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.]
the private houses not being large enough, they began to enter­tain at their respective halls.—Brayley, Londiniana, 1829, vol. ii. p. 28.
Formerly, at Easter and Whitsuntide, the mayor, aldermen, and sheriff of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, with a great number of the burgesses, went yearly to the Forth, or Little Mall of the town, with the mace, sword, and cap of maintenance carried before them, and patronised the playing at hand-ball, dancing, and other amusements, and sometimes joined in the ball-play, and at others joined hands with the ladies.—Every Day Book, vol. i. p. 480.
Deering, in his Historical Account of Nottingham (1751, p. 125), says:—By a custom time beyond memory, the mayor and aldermen of Nottingham and their wives have been used on Monday in Easter week, morning prayer ended, to march from the town to St. Anne's Well, having the town waits to play before them, and attended by all the clothing, i.e., such as have been sheriffs, and ever after wear scarlet gowns, together with the officers of the town, and many other burgesses and gentlemen, such as wish well to the wood­ward—this meeting being first instituted, and since continued for his benefit.
Easter Monday and Tuesday, says a correspondent of Brand's Pop. Antiq. (1849, vol. i. p. 183), were known by the name of heaving-days, because, on the former day, it was customary for the men to heave and kiss the women, and on the latter for the women to retaliate upon the men. The women's heaving-day was the most amusing. Many a time have I passed along the streets inhabited by the lower orders of people, and seen parties of jolly matrons assembled round tables on which stood a foaming tankard of ale. There they sat in all the pride of absolute sovereignty, and woe to the luckless man that dared to invade their prerogatives! As sure as he was seen he was pursued; as sure as he was pursued
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