British Popular Customs Present And Past - online book

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

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346                                   swan-upping.                              [Aug.
July 26.]                    MACE MONDAY.
The first Monday after St. Anne's Day, July 26th, a feast is held at Newbury, the principal dishes being bacon and beans. In the course of the day a procession takes place; a cabbage is stuck on a pole, and carried instead of a mace, accompanied by similar substitutes for other emblems of civic dignity.—Every Day Book, vol. ii. p. 1045.
July 29.]                ST. OLAVE S DAY.
Strype in his Ecclesiastical Memorials (1822, vol. iii. pt. ii. p. 11), says: "On the 29th July, 1557, being St. Olave's Day, was the church holiday in Silver Street, the parish church whereof was dedicated to that saint. And at eight of the clock at night began a stage play of a goodly matter (relating, it is like, to that saint), that continued unto twelve at midnight, and then they made an end with good song,''
August.]                     SWAN-UPPING.
Formerly the members of the Corporation of London, in gaily-decorated barges, went up the Thames annually in August, for the purpose of niching or marking, and counting their swans. They used to land off Barnes Elms, and par­take of a collation. This yearly progress was commonly but incorrectly called " swan-hopping : " the correct desig­nation is shown by the ancient statutes to be " swan-upping,'* the swans being taken up and nicked, or marked. A 4t swan-with-two-nicks " indicated, by his second nick, that he had been taken up twice.*
* Among the Loseley MSS. is an original roll of swan-marks, show­ing the beaks of the swans to have been notched with stars, chevrons, crosses, the initials of the owners' names, or other devices.—See N. & Q. 2nd 8. vol. x. p. 393.
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