British Popular Customs Present And Past - online book

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

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288                                 WHITSUN MONDAY.                        [may 11
hill, where every householder failing to answer his name when called from the dozeners' list was fined a penny. The origin of this singular ceremony is unknown; it existed long before the charters of incorporation, and may perhaps be the remains of the commissions of array issued in the time of Henry V., who ordered every man to keep in his possession arms and armour, according to his goods and station in life, whence the enrolment of a regular armour took place. These statutes of array were repealed. Some­thing, however, like the old custom was continued, and a booth erected for this purpose, in which the magistrates received all the inhabitants who chose to visit them, and partake of a collation provided for that purpose.
The business of the day commenced about eight o'clock in the morning, when the constables, attended by armed men wearing their colours of distinction, with drums beating, preceded by morris dancers, with the Maid Marian, tabor and pipe, &c, conducted the bailiffs and sheriff, and other city officers, to the bower, where they were received with a salute from the men at arms. The constable then returned to collect the dozeners with their standards or posies, who, with the inhabitants of each separate ward, were with like ceremonies conducted to the bower. The posies were probably originally images of saints: they afterwards became emblems of trades, or in many instances mere puppets or garlands borne upon the heads of their ancient halberds; these were in every ward received with a volley from the men at arms, who also fired over every separate house, for which they received money and liquor from the inhabitants. Greenhill was on these occasions crowned with shows, booths, and stalls, and the day was regarded as a festival for the city and neighbour­hood. About nine o'clock in the evening, the whole of the posies being collected, a procession was formed to conduct them to what was called the christening, and was in the following order:—
Tabor and pipe decorated with ribands. Tom fool and Maid Marian. Morrice dancers, dancing sarabands, clashing their staves. Two captains of the armed men.
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