British Popular Customs Present And Past - online book

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

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338                          ST. THOMAS A BECKET's DAY.               [JULY 7.
July 5.]                        Leicestershire.
At Glenfield, the parish clerk, in accordance with an old custom, strews the church with new hay on the first Sunday after the 5th of July.—Edwards, Old English Custom* and Charities, p. 219.
The festival called Bodmin Biding was kept on Sunday and Monday after St. Thomas a Becket's Day (July 7th). A puncheon of beer having been brewed in the preceding October, and bottled in anticipation of the time, two or more young men who were entrusted with the chief management of the affair, and who represented the " wardens," went round the town attended by a band of drums and fifes, or other instruments. The crier saluted each house with, " To the people of this house a prosperous morning, long life, and a merry riding!" The musicians then struck up the riding tune, and the householder was solicited to taste the riding ale, which was carried round in baskets. A bottle was usually taken in, and it was acknowledged by such a sum as the means or humour of the townsman permitted, to bo spent on the public festivities of the season. Next morn­ing a procession was formed : all who could afford to ride mounted on horse or ass, which proceeded first to the Priory, to receive two large garlands of flowers fixed on staves, and then through the principal streets to the Town End, where the games were formally opened. The sports, which lasted two days, consisted of wrestling, foot-racing, jumping in sacks, &c. It should be remarked that a second or inferior brewing, from the same wort, was drunk at a minor merry­making at Whitsuntide. In an order, dated November 15th, 1583, regulating the business of the shoemakers, a class of tradesmen which seems for ages to have been more than
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