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,                               287
Until within the last century, a custom prevailed in the parish of Ensham, by which the towns-people were allowed on Whitsun Monday to cut down and carry away as much timber as could be drawn by men's hands into the Abbey yard, the churchwardens previously marking out such timber by giving the first chop ; so much as they could carry out again, notwithstanding the opposition of the servants of the Abbey to prevent it, they were to keep for the reparation of the church. By this, service they held their right of commonage at Lammas and Michaelmas, but about the beginning of last century this practice was laid aside by mutual consent.—Every Day Boole, vol. iL p. 669.
An old custom, called the " Boy's Bailiff," formerly pre­vailed at Wenlock, in "Whitsun week. It consisted of a man who wore a hair-cloth gown, and was called the bailiff, a recorder, justices, and other municipal officers. There were a large retinue of men and boys mounted on horse­back, begirt with wooden swords, which they carried on their right sides, so that they were obliged to draw their swords out with their left hands. They used to call at the gentlemen's houses in the franchise, where they were regaled with refreshment; and they afterwards assembled at the Guildhall, where the town clerk read some sort of rigmarole which they called their charter, one part of which was—
" We go from Bickbury, and Badger, to Stoke on the Olee, To Monkhopton, Bound Acton, and so return we."
The first three named places are the extreme points of the franchise, and the other two are on the return to Much Wenlock. This custom is supposed to have originated in going a bannering.—Brand, Pop. Antiq., 1849, vol. i. p. 284.
The Court of Array, or view of men and arms, was held on Whitsun Monday in the vicinity of Lichfield, called Green-
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