British Popular Customs Present And Past - online book

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

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Aug. I.]                         LAMMAS DAY.                                         34£
Laxcy, and by the well at Peel, also dedicated to St. Patrick, which, says the tradition, just sprang forth where St. Patrick was prompted by Divine instinct to impress the sign of the cross on the ground. Many extraordinary properties were ascribed to the Nunnery Well, but the most celebrated in modern times for its medicinal virtues is the fine spring which issues from the rocks of the bold promontory called Maughold Head, and which is dedicated to the saint of the name, who, it appears, had blessed the well and endowed it with certain healing virtues. On this account it is yet resorted to, as was the pool of Siloam of old, by every invalid who believes in its efficacy.
On the first Sunday in August the natives, according to-ancient custom, still make a pilgrimage to drink its waters ; and it is held to be of the greatest importance to certain females to enjoy the beverage when seated in a place called the saint's chair•, which the saint, for the accommodation of succeeding generations, obligingly placed immediately con­tiguous.—Bennet, Sketches of the Isle of Man, 1829, p. 65; Waldron, Description of Isle of Man, p. 151; Train, History of the Isle of Man, 1845, vol. ii. p. 121.
Lammas Day is noted in London for an annual rowing match on the Thames, instituted by Thomas Doggett,* an actor of celebrity, in honour of the accession of George I. to the throne of England. Doggett was so warmly attached to the Brunswick family that Sir Richard Steele termed him " a Whig up to the head and ears." In the year after George I. came to the throne, Doggett gave a water­man's coat and silver badge, to be rowed for by six watermen on the 1st of August. This he not only continued till his death, but he bequeathed a certain sum of money, the interest of which was to be appropriated annually, for ever, to the
* He first appeared on the Dublin stage, and afterwards, with Colley Cibber and Robert Wilkes, became joint manager of Drury Lane Theatre. He died in 1721. —Faulkner, History of Chelsea, 1829, p. 188.
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