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 26.]                     rogation week.                               207
the active part which persons of the highest rank in the neighbourhood took in its annual celebration.
Latterly, however, the festival sadly degenerated, and in the year 1830, the town and the manor passing into the hands of the same proprietor, it ceased altogether, and is now one of those many observances which are numbered with the past. If this had not happened, however, the necessity for it no longer exists. The ancient borough is no longer indebted to the lord of the manor for its water, for, through the liberality of the Marquis of Westminster, its present owner, the town is bountifully supplied with the purest water from an artesian well sunk at his expense.—The Book of Days, vol. i. p. 585; Hutchins, History of Dorset, 1803, vol. ii. p. 425.
In Rogation week, about Keston and Wickham, a number of young men meet together and with a most hideous noise run into the orchards, and, encircling each tree, pronounce these words:
•" Stand fast root; bear well top; God send us a youling sop! Every twig, apple big ; Every bough, apple enow."
For this incantation the confused rabble expect a gratuity in money, or drink, which is no less welcome; but if they are disappointed of both, they with great solemnity anathe­matize the owners and trees with altogether as insignificant a curse. It seems highly probable that this custom has arisen from the ancient one of perambulation among the heathen, when they made prayers to the gods for the use and blessing of the fruits coming up, with thanksgiving for those of the preceding year ; and as the heathens supplicated JEolus, god of the winds, for his favourable blasts, so in this custom they still retained his name with a very small variation: this ceremony is called youling, and the word is often used in their invocations.—Hasted, History of Kent, vol. i. p. 109.
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