British Popular Customs Present And Past - online book

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

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422                     queen Elizabeth's accession. [Nov. 17.
Nov. 14.] St. EKCONWALD'S DAY.
Strype, in his Ecclesiastical Memorials (1822, vol. iii. pt. i. p. 322), says :—" It was commanded, that every priest in the diocese of London should go to St. Paul's in procession in copes on St. Erconwald's Day." [November 14th, 1554].
Queen Elizabeth's accession was long observed as a Pro­testant festival, and with the society of the Temple, the Exchequer, Christ's Hospital, Westminster, and Merchant Taylors' Schools, is, says Timbs, kept as a holiday. The Pope in effigy, in a chair of state, with the devil, a real person, behind him, caressing him, &c, was formerly paraded in pro­cession on this day in the streets of London, and afterwards thrown into a bonfire. In Queen Anne's time the Pretender was added to the Pope and the devil. There were also great illuminations in the evening. This anniversary was first publicly celebrated about 1570, twelve years after Elizabeth's accession. (Timbs, Something for Everybody, p. 122.) Brayley in his Londiniana, vol. iv. p. 74, et seq., has given a very interesting account of these processions.
A correspondent of N. & Q. (1st S. vol. iv. p. 345) says that when he was at Christ's Hospital the following curious custom prevailed on the 17th of November.
Two or more boys would take one against whom they had any spite or grudge, and having lifted him by the arms and legs, would bump him on the hard stones of the cloisters.
In reading Sir Roger de Coverley, with notes by Willis, published in the Travellers Library, the same correspondent says that he found (at p. 134) what he considered a fair ex­planation. A full account is there given, he says, of the manner in which the citizens of London intended celebrating, in 1711, the anniversary of Queen Elizabeth's accession on the 17th of November, some parts of which would almost
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