British Popular Customs Present And Past - online book

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

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324                                      MIDSUMMER DAY.                          [JUNE 24.
the village, and afterwards on the green where it is cele­brated. It appears to have assumed its legal form in the reign of Henry III.—Brayley and Britton, Beauties of England and Wales, 1809, vol. ii. p. 110.
In former times there was a privilege of licensing the minstrels, peculiar to the ancient family of Dutton. The original grant came from Earl Randal Blundeville to Roger Lacy, constable of Chester; and his son, John Lacy, assigned the privilege to the family of Dutton. The anniversary of this solemnity was constantly celebrated on the festival of St. John the Baptist by a regular procession of all the minstrels to the church of this tutelary saint in the city of Chester. But after having been constantly observed for at least 550 years, it seems to have been discontinued in 1758; and, as an instance how sacred these exclusive privileges were esteemed by legislative wisdom, the Act of the 29th of Elizabeth, which declares all itinerant minstrels to be vaga­bonds, particularly excepts the minstrel-jurisdiction of John Dutton, of Dutton in Cheshire, Esq.—Gower, Materials for a History of Cheshire, 1771, p. 67.
Hitching, in his History of Cornwall (1824, vol. i. p. 717), says: Midsummer Day is considered as a high holiday, on which either a pole is erected, decorated with garlands, or some flags displayed, to denote the sanctity of the time. This custom has prevailed from time immemorial, of which it is scarcely possible to trace the origin.
Lynton revel begins on the first Sunday after Midsummer Day. It formerly lasted a week. As in the days before the Keformation, revels until lately began on a Sunday in Lynton and Lynniouth, a barrel of beer having been placed near the church gate in readiness for the people coming out of church,
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