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 ii.]                      whitsun monday.                              285
in procession dressed in ribbons, with what they called the King of the Millers at their head.
A writer (in 1787) describing one of these fairs says : To the old ceremony of riding millers, many improvements were made upon a more extensive and significant plan : several personages introduced that bore allusions to the manufacture, and were connected with the place. Old Hugo Baron de Grentemaisnel, who made his first appearance in 1786, armed in light and easy pasteboard armour, was this second time armed cap-a-pie in heavy sinker plate, with pike and shield, on the latter the arms of the town. The representative baron of Hinckley had the satisfaction of being accompanied by his lady, the Baroness Adeliza, habited in the true antique style, with steeple hat, ruff-points, mantle, &c, all in suitable colours; each riding on nimble white steeds properly caparisoned; they were preceded by the town banner, and two red streamers embroidered with their respective names. Several bands of music gave cheerful spirit to the pageant, but more par­ticularly the militia band from Leicester. The frame-work knitters, wool-combers, butchers, carpenters, &c, had each their plays, and rode in companies bearing devices or allu­sions to their different trades. Two characters, well supported, were Bishop Blaise and his chaplain, who figured at the head of the wool-combers. In their train, appeared a pretty innocent young pair, a gentle shepherd and shepherdess : the latter carrying a lamb, the emblem of her little self more than of the trade. Some other little folks, well dressed, were mounted on ponies, holding instru­ments, the marks of their fathers' businesses, and ornamented with ribbons of all colours waving in the air.—See Nichols, History of Hinckley, 1813, p. 678.
Throsby, in his History of Leicester (1791, vol. iii. p. 85), gives the following account of a custom observed in his time at Ratby. He says:—There shall be two persons chosen annually, by a majority, to be called caterers, which shall on every Whit Monday go to Leicester, to what inn they shall think proper, where a calf's head shall be pro­vided for their breakfast; and when the bones are picked clean, they are to be put into a dish and served up with the
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