British Popular Customs Present And Past - online book

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

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April 25.]                    WALKING THE FAIR.                                   203
accompanied by a large concourse of people in carriages, &c. Having paraded the streets, the new freemen and the other equestrians enter the Castle, where they are liberally regaled, and drink the health of the lord and lady of the manor. The newly-created burgesses then proceed in a body to their respective houses, and around the holly-tree drink a friendly glass with each other. After this they proceed to the market-place, where they close the ceremony over an enlivening bowl of punch.—Antiquarian Repertory, 1809, vol. iv. p. 387; History of Alnwick, 1822, pp. 304-309 ; Gent. Mag., 1756, vol xxvi. p. 73.
In the Lonsdale Magazine (1828, vol. iii. p. 312) occurs the following: On Wednesday (St. Mark's Day) twelve persons were made free of the Borough of Alnwick, by scrambling through a muddy pool, and perambulating the boundaries of the moor.
At the fairs held in Wednesbury on the 25th of April and 23rd of July (old style) a custom prevailed for many years called " Walking the Fair." The ceremonies connected with it were conducted in the following manner ; On the morning of the fair the beadle appeared in the market-place dressed for the occasion, and wearing as badges of his office a bell, a long pike, &c. To him assembled a number of the prin­cipal inhabitants of the parish, often with a band of music. They then marched in procession, headed by the beadle, through different parts of the town; called at the Elephant and Castle, in the High Bullen, drank two tankards of ale, and then returned into the market-place where they quenched their thirst again with the same kind of beverage. After this they dined together at one of the public-houses. The expenses incurred in this " Walking the Fair " were defrayed by the parish funds.—Hist, of Wednesbury, 1854, p. 153.
flowers, who welcomed them with dancing and singing; they were called timber-waits, probably a corruption of timbrel-waits, players on timbrels, waits 1 eing an old appellation for those who play on musical instruments in the btreet.
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