British Popular Customs Present And Past - online book

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

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May io.]                          whitsunday.                                   281
to give a certain quantity of malt to brew ale to be given away at Whitsuntide, and a certain quantity of flour to make cakes. Every one who kept a cow sent curd; others, plums, sugar and flour. A contribution of sixpence from each person was levied for furnishing an entertainment, to which every poor person of the parish who came was presented with a quart of ale, a cake, a piece of cheese, and a cheese­cake.—Rudder, History of Gloucestershire, 1779, p. 817.
At Monk Sherborne, near Basingstoke, both the Priory and parish churches were decorated with birch on Whit­sunday.—N. & Q. 4th S. vol. ii. p. 190.
On Whitsunday, says a correspondent of N. & Q. (Ath S. vol. i. p. 551), I was in the church of King's Pion, near Hereford, and was struck with what seemed to me a novel style of church decoration. Every pew corner and " point of vantage " was ornamented with a sprig of birch, the light green leaves of which contrasted well with the sombreness of the woodwork. No other flower or foliage was to be seen in the church.
Miss Baker (Glossary of Northamptonshire Words, 1854, vol. ii. p. 433) describes the celebration of a Whitsun-ale early in the present century in a barn at King's Sutton, fitted up for the entertainment, in which the lord, as the principal, carried a mace made of silk, finely plaited with ribbons, and filled with spices and perfumes for such of the company to smell as desired it; six morris dancers were among the performers.
In a Whitsun-ale, last kept at Greatworth in 1785, the fool, in a motley garb, with a gridiron painted, or worked with a needle, on his back, carried a stick with a bladder, and a calf's tail. Majordomo and his lady as Queen of May, and my lord's morris (six in number) were in this procession.
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