British Popular Customs Present And Past - online book

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

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212                                 ascension DAY.                    April 30
A correspondent of the Gent. Mag. (1787, vol. lvii, p. 718), says : It is the custom in many villages in the neighbourhood of Exeter " to hail the Lamb," upon Ascension morn. That the figure of a lamb actually appears in the east upon this morning is the popular persuasion; and so deeply is it rooted, that it has frequently resisted (even in intelligent minds) the force of the strongest argument.
At Exeter, says Heath in his Account of the Islands of Stilly (1750, p. 128), the boys have a custom of throwing water, that i&, of damming up the channel in the streets, at going the bounds of the several parishes in the city, and of splashing the water upon the people passing by. Neighbours as well as strangers, are forced to compound hostilities by giving the boys of each parish money to pass without duck­ing ; each parish asserting its own prerogative in this respect.
The Oyster Fishery has always formed a valuable part of the privileges and trading property of the town of Colchester. Richard I. granted to the burgesses the fishery of the River Colne, from the North Bridge as far as Westnesse ; and this grant was confirmed to them by subsequent charters, especially that of Edward IV. This fishery includes not merely the plain course of the Colne, but all the creeks, &c, with which it communicates : that is to say, the entire Colne Water, as it is commonly called. It is, moreover, proved by records that the burgesses of Colchester are legally entitled to the sole right of fishing in this water, to the exclusion of all others not licensed and authorized by them ; " and have, and ever had, the full, sole, and absolute power to have, take, and dispose of to their own use, all oysters and other fish within the said river or water." There are some parishes adjoining the water whose inhabitants are admitted, upon licence from the mayor, to fish and dredge oysters therein, these parishes being Brightlingsea, Wivenhoe, and East Doniland, For the better preservation of this privilege Courts of Admiralty or Conservancy have been customarily
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