British Popular Customs Present And Past - online book

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

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203                                 rogation week.                   [april 26.
At Stanlake, says Plot, the minister of the parish, in his procession in Rogation Week, reads the Gospel at a barrel's head, in the cellar of the Chequer Inn, in that town, where, according to some, there was formerly a hermitage, according to others a cross, at which they read a Gospel in former times; over which the house, and particularly the cellar, being built, they are forced to continue the custom.—History of Oxfordshire, 1705, p. 207.
Among the local customs which formerly prevailed at Wolverhampton may be noticed that which was popularly called " Processioning." Many of the older inhabitants can well remember when the sacrist, resident prebendaries, and members of the choir assembled at morning prayers on Monday and Tuesday in Rogation Week, with the charity children bearing long poles clothed with all kinds of flowers then in season, and which were afterwards carried through the streets of the town with much solemnity, the clergy, singing-men and boys, dressed in their sacred vestments, closing the procession, and chanting, in a grave and appro­priate melody, the Canticle, Benedicite, omnia opera, &c. This ceremony, innocent at least, and not illaudable in itself, was of high antiquity, taking probably its origin in the Roman offerings of the Prim1ste, from which (after being rendered conformable to our purer worship) it was adapted by the first Christians, and handed down, through a succession of ages, to modern times. The idea was, no doubt, that of re­turning thanks to God, by whose goodness the face of nature was renovated, and fresh means provided for the sustenance and comfort of his creatures. It was discontinued about 1765.
The boundaries of the township and parish of Wolver-hanipton are in many points marked out by what are called Gospel trees, from the custom of having the Gospel read under or near them by the clergyman attending the parochial peram-
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