British Popular Customs Present And Past - online book

A calendar of the traditional customs, practices & rituals of the British Isles.

Home Main Menu Order Support About Search

Share page  

Previous Contents Next

170                                       EASTER MONDAY.                     [MARCH 23.
already referred to and published in Lysons' Magna Bri­tannia, is the following account of a curious practice once observed at Chester, " There is an anchant custome in this cittie of Chester: the memory of man now livinge not knowing the original, that upon Monday in Easter weeke, yearely, commonly called Black Mondaye, the two sheriffes of the cittie do shoote for a breakfaste of calves-heades and bacon, commonly called the Sheriffes' Breakfaste, the maner being thus : the day before, the drum soundeth through the cittie; with a proclamation for all gentlemen, yeomen, and good fellowes, that will come with their bowes and arrowes to take part with one sheriff or the other, and upon Monday morning, on the Rode-dee, the Mayor, shreeves. aldermen, and any other gentlemen that be there, the one sherifo chosing one, and the other sherife chosing another, and soe of the archers; the one sherife shoteth, and the other sherife he shoteth to shode him, beinge at length some twelve score, soe all the archers on one side to shote till it be shode, and so till three shutes be wonne, and then all the winners' side goe up together, first with arrowes in their hands, and all the loosers with bowes in their hands together, to the common hall of the cittie, where the maior, aldermen, and the reste, take parte together of the saide breakfaste in loveing manner. This is yearely done, it beinge a commendable exercise, a good recreation, and a lovinge assemblye."
In the year 1640 the sheriffs gave a piece of plate to be run for, instead of the calves'-head breakfast. In 1674, a resolution was entjred in the Corporation journals that the calves'-head feast was held by ancient custom and usage, and was not to be at the pleasure of the sheriffs and leave-brokers. In the month of March, 1676-7, the sheriffs and leave-brokers were fined £10, for not keeping the calves'-head feast. For this feast an annual dinner was afterwards substituted, usually given by the sheriffs at their own houses on an^ day most suitable to their convenience.
During a visit to the little village of Castleton, says a
correspondent of N. & Q. (4th S. vol. v. p. 595), I notic
Previous Contents Next