British Popular Customs Present And Past - online book

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

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Nov. 25.]                  st. Catherine's day.                           427
The following extract is taken from N. & Q. (2nd S+ vol v. p. 47):—On Wednesday (the 25th) night last the towns of Chatham, Kochester, and Brompton exhibited con­siderable excitement in consequence of a torchlight proces­sion appearing in the streets, headed by a band of fifes and drums. Notwithstanding the late hour (eleven o'clock) a large number of persons of both sexes, accompanied the party. The demonstration was got up by the rope-makers of the dockyard, to celebrate the anniversary of the founder of the ropery (Queen Catherine). The female representing her Majesty (who was borne in a chair of state by six rope-makers) was dressed in white muslin, wore a gilt crown, and carried in her hand a Roman banner.
At one time it was customary, at Peterborough, till the introduction of the new poor laws, for the female children belonging to the workhouse, attended by the master, to go in procession round the city on St. Catherine's Day. They were all attired in white, and decorated with various coloured ribbons, principally scarlet; the tallest girl was selected to represent the Queen, and was adorned with a crown and sceptre. The procession stopped at the houses of the prin­cipal inhabitants, and they sang the following rude ballad,, begging for money at every house as they passed along:
" Here comes Queen Catherine, as fine as any queen, With a coach and six horses a coming to be seen.
And a spinning we will go, will go, will go, And a spinning we will go.
Some say she is alive, and some say she is dead, And now she does appear with a crown upon her head. And a spinning we will go, &c.
Old Madam Marshall she takes up her pen, And then she sits and calls for all her royal men. And a spinning we will go, &c.
All you that want employment, though spinning is but smallr Come list, and don't stand still, but go and work for all. And a spinning we will go, &c.
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