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. J                     midsummer day.                                327
inhabitants of ye parish and their wives, and others also then at church, make their offering likewise; and the money so offered is given to the poor decrepit Porters of the said fellowship for their better subsistence."—Newcomb's MS* Collect., cited by Bishop Kennett.
It was the custom to strew the church of Middleton Chenduit, in summer, with hay gathered from six or seven straths in Ash Meadow, which were given for this purpose. In the winter the rector found straw.—Bridges's History of Northamptonshire* 1791, vol. i. p. 187.
It is customary on this day to dress out stools with a cushion of flowers. A layer of clay is placed on the stool, and therein is stuck, with great regularity, an arrangement of all kinds of flowers, so close as to form a beautiful cushion. These are exhibited at the doors of houses in the villages, and at the ends of streets and cross lanes of larger towns, where the attendants beg money from passengers to enable them to have an evening fete and dancing.
This custom is evidently derived from the " Ludi Com-pitalii" of the Romans ; this appellation was taken from the compita, or cross lanes, where they were instituted and celebrated by the multitude assembled before the building of Eome. It was the feast of the lares, or household gods, who presided as well over houses as streets.—Hutchinson's History of Northumberland.
The following notice of a curious custom, formerly observed at Magdalen College, Oxford, is taken from the Life of Bishop Home, by the Eev. William Jones (Works, vol. xii. p. 131) :—" A letter of July the 25th, 1755, informed me that Mr. Home, according to an established custom at Magdalen College, in Oxford, had begun to preach before
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