British Popular Customs Present And Past - online book

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

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280                                     WHITSUNDAY.                             [MAY IO.
men, with similar designs, follow them, and, having eyed the lasses, each picks up a sweetheart, whom they conduct to a dancing-room, and treat with punch and cake. Here they spend their afternoon, and part of their half-year's wages, in drinking and dancing, unless, as it frequently happens, a girl becomes the subject of contention, when the harmony of the meeting is interrupted, and the candidates for her affec­tion settle the dispute by blows without further ceremony. Whoever wins the victory secures the maid for the present, but she is sometimes finally won by the vanquished pugilist. When the diversions of the day are concluded, the servants generally return to their homes, where they pass about a week before they enter on their respective services.—Britton and Brayley, Beauties of England and Wales, 1803, vol. iii. p. 243.
Essex.
Heybridge Church, near Maldon, was formerly strewn with rushes, and round the pews, in holes made apparently for the purpose, were placed small twigs just budding.— N. & Q. 2nd S. vol. i. p. 471.
Gloucestershire.
At St. Briavels, after divine service, formerly, pieces of bread and cheese were distributed to the congregation at church. To defray the expenses, every householder in the parish paid a penny to the churchwardens, and this was said to be for the liberty of cutting and taking the wood in Hudnalls. According to tradition, the privilege was ob­tained of some Earl of Hereford, then lord of the Forest of Dean, at the instance of his lady, upon the same hard terms that Lady Godiva obtained the privileges for the citizens of Coventry.—Budder, History of Gloucestershire, 1779, p. 307. See N. & Q. 2nd S. vol. x. p. 184.
A remnant of the old customs of Whitsuntide is retained at the noble old church of St. Mary Bedcliffe, Bristol, which is annually strewn with rushes in accordance with ancient practice.—See Edwards, Old English Customs and Charities, pp. 216, 217.
A custom existed at Wickham for the lord of the manor
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