British Popular Customs Present And Past - online book

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

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392                        CHETWODE " RHYNE TOLL." [OCT. 30.
manner and form before mentioned, otherwise the said cattle that shall so remain, shall be the lord's as strays," This toll was formerly so rigidly enforced, that if the owner of cattle so impounded made his claim immediately after the procla­mation was over, he was refused them, except by paying their full market price.
Though the custom is still regularly observed, it has undergone some changes since the date of the above docu­ment. The toll now begins at nine in the morning instead of at sunrise, and the horn is first sounded on the church-hill at Buckingham, and gingerbread and beer distributed among the assembled boys, the girls being excluded. The officer then proceeds to another part of the liberty on the border of Oxfordshire, and there, after blowing his horn as before, again distributes gingerbread and beer among the assembled boys. The toll is then proclaimed as begun, and collectors are stationed at different parts to enforce it, at the rate of two shillings a score upon all cattle and swine passing on any road within the liberty, until twelve o'clock at night on the 7th of November, when the " Ehyne " closes.
The occupiers of land within the liberty have long been accustomed to compound for the toll by an annual payment of one shilling. The toll has sometimes been refused, but has always been recovered with the attendant expenses. It realised about 20Z. a year before the opening of the Buck­inghamshire Railway; but now, owing to Welsh and Irish cattle being sent by trains, it does not amount to above 4Z., and is let by the present lord of the manor for only 11. 5s. a year.
The existence of this toll may be traced to remote antiquity, but nothing is known of its origin except from local tradition, which, however, in this case has been so remarkably confirmed, that it may safely be credited. The parish of Chetwode, as its name implies, was formerly thickly wooded; indeed it formed a part of an ancient forest called Rookwoode, which is supposed to have been conterminous with the present liberty of Chetwode. At a very early period, says our tradition, this forest was infested with an enormous wild boar which became the terror of the sur­rounding country. The inhabitants were never safe from
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