British Popular Customs Present And Past - online book

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

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March 23.]                     easter Monday,                              171
every child without exception had a bottle of elecampane — the younger ones having one tied round their necks—all sucking away at this curious compound of Spanish juice, sugar, and water with great assiduity. I was informed by a very old man that the custom had always obtained at Castleton on this day as long as he could remember.
The custom of lifting was practised in some of the northern parts of this county.—Jour, of Arch. Assoc, 1852, vol. vii. p. 205.
Easter Monday was formerly appropriated to the grand " Epping Hunt." So far back as the year 1226, King Henry III. confirmed to the citizens of London free-warren, or liberty to hunt a circuit about their city, in the warren of Staines, &c.; and in ancient times, the Lord Mayor, aldermen, and corporation, attended by a due number of the con­stituents, are said to have availed themselves of this right of chase " in solemn guise." But years ago, the " Epping Hunt" lost the Lord Mayor and his brethren in their cor­porate capacity; the annual sport subsequently dwindled into a mere burlesque and farcical show amongst the mob, and even that has died away, and is now numbered " amongst the things that were."—Sports, Pastimes and Customs of London, 1847, p. 27.
The following extract illustrative of this ancient custom is taken from the Chelmsford Chronicle (April 15th, 1805); " On Monday last Epping Forest was enlivened with the celebrated stag-hunt. The road from Whitechapel to the Bald-faced Stag, on the forest, was covered with cockney sportsmen, chiefly dressed in the costume of the chase, in scarlet-frock, black jockey cap, new boots, and buckskin breeches. By ten o'clock the assemblage of civil hunters, mounted on all sorts and shapes, could not fall short of 1,200. There were numberless Dianas, also of the chase, from Eotherhithe, the Minories, &c, some in riding-habits, mounted on titups, and others by the side of their mothers, in gigs, tax-carts, and other vehicles appropriate to the sports of the field. The Saffron Walden stag-hounds made their joyful appearance about half after ten, but without any of tho
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