British Popular Customs Present And Past - online book

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

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June 24.]                     midsummer day.                                325
who partook of a glass and a cake, called revel cake, made with dark flour, currants, and carraway seeds. Wrestling formed a chief feature in the amusements, and large sums were raised by subscription to purchase prizes. However odd it may appear, it is not more than twenty years since the silver spoons, bought as prizes to be wrestled for, were exhibited hung in front of the gallery in Countisbury Church during divine service on Eevel Sunday. Of late years, however, owing to the prevalence of drunkenness, especially on the Sunday afternoon, the respectable inhabi­tants have set their faces against these revels, which have now dwindled into insignificance. The collusion which sprang up among the wrestlers to share the prizes, without their being won by a real trial of skill and strength, hastened also greatly to abate the enthusiasm of the subscribers, so that of late the prizes have not been beyond a few shillings collected from the people on the ground. This of itself has given a death-blow to the revel.—Cooper, Guide to Lynton and Lynmouthy 1853, p. 38.
Isle of Man.
On this day a tent is erected on the summit of the Tynwald Hill (called also Cronk-y-Keeillown, i.e., St. John's Church Hill, a mound said to have been originally brought from each of the seventeen parishes of the island), and prepara­tions are made for the reception of the officers of state, according to ancient custom. Early in the morning the Governor proceeds from Castletown under a military escort to St. John's Chapel, situated a few hundred yards to the eastward of the Tynwald Hill. Here he is received by the Bishop, the Council, the clergy, and the keys, and all attend Divine service in the chapel, the Government chaplain officiating. This ended, they march in a procession from the chapel to the mount, the military formed in line on each side of the green turf walk. The clergy take the lead, next comes the Vicar-General, and the two Deemsters, then the bearer of the sword of state in front of the Governor, who is succeeded by the Clerk of the Kolls, the twenty-four keys, and the captains of the different parishes.
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