British Popular Customs Present And Past - online book

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

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286                                 WHITSUN MONDAY.                        [MAY II.
dinner. Likewise, the innkeeper is to provide two large rich pies, for the caterers to take home, that their families may partake of some of their festivity. Likewise, there shall be provided for every person a short silk lace, tagged at both ends with silver, which, when so equipped, they shall all proceed to Enderby, and sell the grass of the Wether (a meadow so called) to the best bidder; from thence they shall go to the meadow, and all dismount, and each person shall take a small piece of grass from the before-mentioned Wether, and tie it round with their tagged lace, and wear it in their hats, and ride in procession to the High Cross in Leicester, and there throw them among the populace; from thence proceed to their inn, and go in pro­cession to St. Mary's Church, where a sermon shall be preached for the benefit of the hospital founded by Henry, Earl of Leicester. When service is over, a deed shall be read over by the clergyman, concerning the gift of the above Wether, and the church shall be stuck with flowers. When the ceremony is over, they are to return to their inn to dinner, and close the day with mirth and festivity.
At Corby near Rockingham, every twentieth year, the inhabitants assemble at an early hour, and stop up all roads and bye-ways in the parish, and demand a certain toll of every person, gentle or simple, who may have occasion to pass through the village on that day. In case of non­compliance a stout pole is produced, and the nonconformist is placed thereon, in a riding attitude, carried through the village, and taken to the parish stocks and imprisoned until the authorities choose to grant a dismissal. It appears that Queen Elizabeth granted to the inhabitants of Corby a charter to free them from town toll throughout England, Wales, and Scotland; and also to exempt them from serving on juries at Northampton, and to free the knights of the shire from the militia law. This custom of takiig toll has been observed every twenty years in commemoration of the granting of the charter.—JV". & Q. 3rd S. vol. i. p. 424.
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