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.                               289
Twenty-four armed men with drums.
Twenty-one dozeners with standards or posiea.
Two constables.
Gaoler.
Sheriff.
Serjeants at Mace and Town Crier.
Bailiffs, and Town Clerk.
Citizeus3 inhabitants, &c.
On arriving at the door of St. Mary's Church, after passing up Boar Street, and down Sadler Street, an address was made by the town clerk, recommending a peaceable demeanour, and watchful attendance to their duty; and a volley being fired over the posies the business of the day ended. At one time the images were deposited in the belfry of the adjoining church, from which it may be concluded that the origin of this procession was religious. This custom was abolished by the magistrates in 1805, at which time the expense was annually about £70; but was afterwards in some degree continued by private subscription.—Account of Lichfield, 1818, 1819, p. 87.
Southey, in his Common Place Book (1849, 2nd S. p. 336), gives the following extract from Mrs. Fienne's MSS:—
"At Lichfield they have a custom at Whitsuntide, ye Monday and Tuesday, called the Green Bower Feast, by which they hold their charter. The bailiff and sheriff assist at the ceremony of dressing up babies with garlands of flowers and greens, and carry them in procession through all the streets, and then assemble themselves at the market­place, and so go in a solemn procession through the great street to a hill beyond the town, where is a large green bower made, in which they have their feast. Many smaller bowers are made around for company, and for booths to sell fruit, sweetmeats, ginger-bread," &c.
WALES.
At Tenby a women's benefit club walked in procession to church with band and banners before them and bunches of flowers in their hands. After the service they dined, and wound up the evening by dancing.—Mason's Tales and Traditions of Tenby, 1858, p. 23.
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