British Popular Customs Present And Past - online book

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

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290
WHITSUN TUESDAY.
[May 12.
May 12.]              WHITSUN TUESDAY.
Bedfordshire.
At Biddenham there is an ancient customary donation of a quantity of malt, made at Whitsuntide by the proprietor of Kempston Mill, near the parish. The malt is always de­livered to the overseers of the poor for the time being, and brewed by them into ale, which is distributed among all the poor inhabitants of Biddenham on Whit Tuesday.— Old English Customs and Charities, 1842, p. 65.
Buckinghamshire.
The Eton Montem was a long celebrated and time-honoured ceremony peculiar to Eton, and said to have been coeval with the foundation of the college, and was observed biennially but latterly triennally down to the year 1844, when it was totally abolished. It was a procession of the scholars dressed either in military or fancy costume, to a small mount on the south side of the Bath Koad (supposed to be a Br1sth or Saxon barrow), where they exacted money for salt, as the phrase was, from all persons present, and from travellers passing. The ceremony was called the Montem. The procession of boys, accompanied by bands of music, and carrying standards, was usually followed by many old Etonians, and even by members of the royal family—in some cases by the king and queen. Arrived at Salt-hill, the boys ascended the"mons," or mount, the 11 captain" unfolded the grand standard, and delivered a speech in Latin, and the " salt" was collected. The principal "salt-bearers" were superbly dressed, and carried embroidered bags for the money. The donation of the king and queen was called the "royal salt," and tickets were given to those who had paid their salt.* Immense numbers
* The mottoes on the tickets varied in different years. In 1773, the words were "Ad Montem;" in 1781 and 1787 "Mos pro lege est;'' in 1790, 1796, 1808, 1812, "Pro more et monte;" and in 1799 and 1805, "Mos pro lege,"—Brand, Pap. Antiq., 1819, vol. i. p. 436,
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