British Popular Customs Present And Past - online book

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

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214                                    ASCEN8I0N DAY.                       [APRIL 30.
On Ascension Day, says Mackenzie in his History of Newcastle (1827, vol. ii. p. 744), every year the mayor and burgesses of Newcastle survey the boundaries of the River Tyne. This annual festive expedition starts at the Mansion-House Quay, and proceeds to or near the place in the sea called Sparhawk, and returns up the river to the utmost limits of the Corporation at Hedivin Streams. They are accompanied by the brethren of the Trinity House and the River Jury in their barges.
Brockett mentions the smock-race on Ascension Day, a race run by females for a smock. These races were frequent among the young country wenches in the north. The prize, a fine Holland chemise, was usually decorated with ribbons. The sport is practised at Newburn, near Newcastle.—Brand, Pop. Antiq. 1849, vol. i. p. 210.
In Rogation week the bounds of many of the parishes are still beaten with as much pomp by the beadle as ever; and it is believed that if an egg which is laid on Ascension Day be placed in the roof of a house, the building will be preserved from fire and other calamities.—Jour, of Arch. Assoc, 1853, vol. viii. p. 233.
At Oxford the little crosses cut in the stones of buildings to denote the division of the parishes are whitened with chalk. Great numbers of boys, with peeled willow rods in their hands, accompany the minister in .the procession.— Brand, Pop. Antiq. 1849, vol. i. p. 200.
Aubrey, in his Remains of Gentilism and Judaism, says: " The fellows of New College have, time out of mind, every Holy Thursday, betwixt the hours of eight and nine, goune to the hospital called Bart'lemews neer Oxford, when they retire into the chapell, and certaine prayers are read, and an antheme sung, from thence they goe to the* upper end
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