British Popular Customs Present And Past - online book

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Oct. i 8.]                        st. luke's day.                                387
fair had its horns conspicuous in the front. Earns' horns were an article abundantly represented for sale, even the gin­gerbread was marked by a gilt pair of horns. It seemed an inexplicable mystery how horns and Charlton Fair had become associated in this manner, till an antiquary at length threw a light upon it by pointing out that a horned ox is the recognised mediaeval symbol of St. Luke, the patron of the fair, fragmentary examples of it being still to be seen in the painted windows of Charlton Church. This fair was one where an unusual licence was practised. It was customary for men to come to it in women's clothes—a favourite mode of masquerading two or three hundred years ago—against which the puritan clergy launched many a fulmination. The men also amused themselves, on their way across Blackheath, in lashing the women with furze, it being proverbial that " all was fair at Horn Fair."—Book of Days, vol. i. p. 645.
A sermon was formerly preached at Charlton Church on the day of the fair. A practice which originated by a bequest of twenty shillings a year to the minister of the parish for preaching it.—See Every Day Book, 1826, vol. i. pp. 1386-1389.
Drake, in his Eboracum (1736, p. 218), says that a fair was always kept in Micklegate, on St. Luke's Day, for all sorts of small wares. It was commonly called Dish Fair from the great quantity of wooden dishes, ladles, &c, brought to it. An old custom was observed at this fair, of bearing a wooden ladle in a sling on two stangs about it, carried by
I four sturdy labourers, and each labourer was supported by another. This, without doubt, was a ridicule on the meanness of the wares brought to the fair, small benefit accruing to the labourers at it. Drake tells us that in his time St. Luke's Day was known in York by the name of Whip-Dog Day, from a strange custom that schoolboys had of whipping all dogs that were seen in the streets on that day. Whence this uncommon persecution, he says, took its rise is uncertain, and has even been considered by some to be of Eoman origin. He regards, however, the 2 o 2
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