British Popular Customs Present And Past - online book

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

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Sept. 4.]                  st. cuthbert's DAY.                              371
of ladies also attended. The steamer proceeded out to sea until she reached an imaginary line between Poor Head and Cork Head, which is supposed to be the maritime boundary of the borough. Here the mayor donned his official robes and proceeded, attended by the mace and sword bearer, the city treasurer, and the town clerk, all wearing their official costumes, to the prow of the vessel, whence he launched his javelin into the water, thereby asserting his authority as lord high admiral of the port. The event was celebrated by a banquet in the evening.
Sept. 4.]             ST. CUTHBEKT'S DAY.
An offering of a stag was at one time annually made on St. Cuthbert's Day, in September, by the Nevilles of Eaby. On one occasion, however, Lord Neville claimed that himself, and as many as he might bring with him, should be feasted by the Prior upon the occasion. To this the Prior demurred, as a thing that had never been before claimed as of right, and as being a most expensive and onerous burden, for the trains of the great nobility of that day were numerous in the extreme. The result was that the Prior declined to accept the stag when laid before the shrine, by which they of the Nevilles were so grievously offended that from words they got to blows, and began to cuff the monks who were ministering at the altar. The latter, upon this occasion, were not contented to offer a mere passive resistance, for they made such good use of the large wax candles which they carried in belabouring their opponents as to compel them to retreat. The retainers of the Nevilles did not, however, condescend to take back again the stag which, as they deemed, had been so uncour-teously refused. The stag was an oblation by the Nevilles of great antiquity, and appears to have been brought into the church, and presented with winding of horns.—Ornsby, Sketches of Durham, 1846, p. 77; Mackenzie, View of County cf Durham, 1834, vol. ii. p. 201.
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