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 30.]                    ascension day.                                 211
torn :—In the walking of the boundaries of the parish the " men of Frodsham passed, across the brook dividing it from Helsby (then in the adjoining parish of Durham), the Frodsham banner to the " men of Helsby,'' who in their turn passed over the Helsby banner.
One of the prettiest customs of the county of Derby is that of wTell-dressing on Holy Thursday or Ascension Day at Tissington, near Dovedale. In the village are five springs or wells, and these are decorated with flowers, arranged in the most beautiful devices. Boards are cut into arches, pediments, pinnacles, and other ornamental forms, and are covered with moist clay to the thickness of about half-an-inch; the flowers are cut off their stems and impressed into the clay as closely together as possible, forming mottoes, borders, and other devices; these are then placed over the wells, and it is impossible to conceive a more beautiful appearance than they present, the water gurgling from beneath them, and overhung by the fine foliage of the numerous evergreens and forest trees by which they are surrounded. ' There is one particular variety of the double daisy known to gardeners as the Tissington daisy, which appears almost peculiar to the place, and is in much repute for forming the letters of the texts and mottoes, with which the wells are adorned. The day is observed as a complete holiday, and the festival attracts a considerable number of visitors from all the neighbouring towns and villages. Divine Service is performed in the Church, and on its con­clusion the minister and congregation join in procession and visit each well. A portion of Scripture is read at each, and a psalm or appropriate hymn is sung. The whole of the wells being visited, and a prayer offered up, the company separate and, from the absence of public-houses in the village, spend the rest of the day in temperate enjoyment. The same custom was observed at Brewood and Bilbrook, in the County of Stafford.—Gent. Mag. 1794, lxiv. pp. 115, 226; Jour, of the Arch. Assoc. 1852, vol. vii. p. 205; vide Times, May 19th, 1874.
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