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HoRNchurch. For the Every-Day Book.
On Christmas-day, the following custom has been observed at Hornchurch, in Essex, from time immemorial. The lessee of the tithes, which belong to New College, Oxford, supplies a boar's head dressed, and garnished with bay-leaves, &c. In the afternoon, it is carried in procession into the Mill Field, adjoining the church-yard, where it is wrestled for; and it is afterwards feasted upon, at one of the public-houses, by the rustic conqueror and his friends, with all the merriment peculiar to the season. And here it may be observed, that there is another custom, at this place, of having a model of an ox's .. with horns, affixed on the top of the eastern end of the chancel
of the church. A few years ago it had been suffered to fall into decay; but in the year 1824 it was renewed by the present vicar. This church formerly belonged to the convent on Mount St. Bernard in Savoy; and it has been suggested, that the ox's head, with the horns, may perhaps be the arms or crest of the convent, and that the custom, as well as the name of the place, originated from that circumstance. I shall be happy to be informed whether this suggestion be founded on matter of fact; and if not, to what other cause the custom can be assigned. Ignotus.
Of the ancient doings of Christmas, there is a bountiful imagining, by a modern writer, in the subjoined verses:—
hundred years ago, which swallowed up a whole village, together with the church. Formerly, it was a custom for people
Dear Sir, Near Raleigh, in Notting- to assemble in this valley, on Christmashamshire, there is a valley, said to have day morning, to listen to the ringing o been caused by an earthquake several the bells of the church beneath them 1
This it was positively asserted might be heard by putting the ear to the ground, and harkening attentively. Even now, it is usual on Christmas morning for old men and women to tell their children and young friends to go to the valley, stoop down, and hear the bells ring merrily. I am, &c. C. T.
ChRISTMAs At Christ's Hospital.
In an Essay on Christ's Hospital, “Let me have leave to remember,” says Mr. Lamb, “the festivities at Christmas, when the richest of us would club our stock to have a gaudy day, sitting round the fire, replenished to the height with logs; and the pennyless, and he that could contribute nothing, partook in all the mirth, and in some of the substantialities of the feasting; the carol sung by night at that time of the year, which, when a young boy, I have so often laid awake from seven (the hour of going to bed) till ten, when it was sung by the older boys and monitors, and have listened to it in their rude chanting, till I have been transported to the fields of Bethlehem, and the song which was sung at that season by the Angels' voices to the shepherds.”
The CLAYEN CUP. To the Editor of the Every-Day Book.
January 12, 1825.
Sir, In your account of the ceremonies now practised in Devon at Christmas, regarding the apple-trees,” you are wrong in calling it a “clayen cup,” it should be a clome or clomen cup: thus all earthenware shops and china shops are called by the middling class and peasantry clome or clomen shops, and the same in markets where earthenware is displayed in Devon, are called clome-standings. I feel assured you will place this note to the right account, a desire that so useful and interesting a work should be as perfect as possible.
Perhaps the spirit of Christmas is kept up more in Devon, even now, than in any other part of England.
I am, &c.
NATURALISTS' cALEN DAR. Mean Temperature ... 36 75.
* See vol. i., 41
Sir, – As I have frequently derived much pleasure from the amusing descriptions of local customs in your Every-Day Book, I take the liberty of forwarding some reminiscences of customs which existed when I first drew halfpence from my breeches pockets, and which still remain in the north of England; I allude to a fair held at Avingham, a small hamlet situated on the banks of the Tyne, about twelve miles west of Newcastle.
Avingham fair is on the 26th of April and 26th of October. Formerly, an agricultural society awarded prizes to the successful candidates for the breed of horses, cows, sheep, &c. The April cattle
show was entirely of the male kind, and in every respect calculated to afford pleasure and instruction to the naturalist, being replete with variety, form, colour, and as much beauty as could be found in that part of the animal creation; so much 80, ū. in turning from the scene with reluctance, you might exclaim, “Accuse not nature, she hath done her part; man, do thou but thine.” Morland, Potter, Cooper, and Bewick," might all have found variety for the exercise of their several powers; and, indeed, the latter has given portraits of many of the specimens there exhibited, in his “History of Quadrupeds.” The October show was of the female kind, and inferior to the former. At this meeting, two additional prizes were given; one to the grower of the finest crop of turnips, which was decided by taking so many rows of a given number of yards in length, and weighing them; the other was the sum of ten pounds, to the person who could prove that he had reared the largest family without assistance from the parish. The privilege of contest was confined to hinds (husbandmen.) The fair is principally for the sale of cattle, and the show is not greater than that of Smithfield on market-day, excepting pigs, which here and at Stainshaw (Stagshaw) bank fairs supply the principal stock to the č. and Westmoreland pig feeders. In the morning a procession moves from the principal alehouse for the purpose of riding the fair, as they call it, headed by the two Northumberland pipers, called the duke of Northumberland's pipers, in a light blue dress, a large cloak of the same colour with white cape, a silver half-moon on one arm as a cognizance, and white band and binding to the hat. Each is mounted on a rosinante, borrowed, without consent, by the busy hostler from some whiskey smuggler or cadger, reconciled to the liberty by long custom. Those who have noticed the miller and his horse in Stothard's icture of the “Pilgrimage to Canterury,” may form a tolerable notion of the manner in which this “Jemmy Allen” and son are mounted; the accompanying sketch, from recollection, may more conveniently illustrate my description:
• The small cottage wherein, Bewick was born, stands at a short distance from this village (Avingham.
The pipers, followed by the duke's agent, bailiff, constable, and a numerous body of farmers, principally the duke's tenantry, proceed first through the fair, where the proclamation is read, that the fair shall last nine days, &c.;” and then, the duke being lord of the manor, they walk the boundary of all that is or has been common or waste land. That task completed, they return to the alehouse with the pipers playing before them, where they partake freely of store of punch at the duke's expense. The farmers are so proud of being able to express their attachment to his grace “in public,” as they term it, that they mount their sons on cuddies, (asses,) rather than they should not join the procession, to drink with them “the health o' his grace, and lang may he leeve ta pratect and study the interests o' his tanentry.” Then there's “Here's te ye Tam, thank's teye Joke,” and so they separate for the fair, there to “ettle how mickle per heed they con git for their nowte an swine.”
Avingham fair, like others, is attended
• It never continues longer than one day
by many a “gaberlunzie,” with different kinds of amusement for children, such as the “E and O, black-cock and grey;” and, above all, for the amusement of the
ig drivers and “gadsmen,” Punch and #. (so called by them,) and a number of those gentlemen who vomit fire, as if they had swallowed the wicks of all the candles they had snuffed for Richardson. Many of those worthies I recollect having attended ever since I was able to see above the level of their stalls. At my last visit, I was much amused with one who seemed to have been iust arrived from the sister kingdom; he was surrounded by ploughboys and their doxeys, their cheeks as red as their topknots. He had a large pan suspended from his neck, and, as the girls observed, a “skimmering” white apron and bib, and he bellowed as loud as he could, “Hearse a' yer rale dandy candy, made ap wa’ sugar an brandy, an tha rale hoile a mint; it's cood far young ar hold, cough or cold, a shortness a’ breath, ar a pain at tha stamach; it's cood far hany camplaint whatsamever; A, fate 1 an yil try it:-noo leddies, his ye try it, an yer sure ta buy it.” And sure
enough this was the case, for whatever might be its qualities, it pleased the “leddies,” who purchased in such abundance, that they besmeared their faces so as to destroy that rosy red, love's proper hue, which dwells upon the cheeks of our northern rustic beauties. I must not forget to mention that the October fair is more numerously attended by those who go for pleasure. Unlike the southern holyday folks, they prefer autumn for this reason, that “hearst” is just ended, and they have then most money, which, with the “leddies,” is generally expended in dress suitable to this and similar occasions. After baking asufficient number of barley bannocks for the following day, and the milk set up, they throw off their “linsey-woolsey petticoats,” and “hale made bed-goons” for a gown, a good specimen of their taste, in the two warmest colours, a red flower or stripe upon a yellow ground, and as much of a third colour round the waste, as would make them vie with Iris. In this butterfly state they hasten to the scene of mirth, and most of them dance till they have reason to suppose it is time to “gang hame, an git a' ready be’ crowdie time.” The style of dancing is the same as in Scotland, country dances, reels, jigs, and hornpipes; the last mentioned is much admired. No merry-making is allowed to pass over without some rural “admirable Crichton” having shown his agility in this step. The hornpipe is introduced between each country dance, while “Love blinks, wit sleeps, an’social mirth forgets their's care upon the earth.” The following day is called by the inhabitants “gwonny Jokesane's" day; why so is not known; all they know is, that it is and has been so called since the recollection of the oldest alive; and that is sufficient to induce them to continue a custom, which is peculiar to it, as follows. When a sufficient number have assembled, they elect what they are pleased to call a mayor, who they mount upon a platform, which is borne along by four men, headed by the musician that attended the preceding evening, and followed by a number of bailiffs with white “wans,” and all the men, wives, maids, and white-headed urchins in the village. Thus, all in arms, they proceed first to the munister's house, and strike up a dance in front. His worship, “the mayor,” as a privileged person, sometimes evinces a little impatience, and if the minister has not made his appearance,
demands to speak to him. ... On his advancing, “his wo begins thus, “A yes! twa times a yes! an' three times a yes! If ony man, or ony man's man, lairds, loons, lubburdoons, dogs, skelpers, gabbrigate swingers, shall commit a parliament as a twarliament, we, in the township o' Avingham, shall hea his legs,
an heed, tied tatha cagwheel, till he say
yence, twice, thrice, prosper the fair o' Avingham, an’gwonny Jokesane's day.” This harangue, however ridiculous, is always followed with cheering, in which their good-tempered pastor freely joins, with his hat above his head, and stepping forward, shakes “his worship” by the hand, giving him a cordial welcome, trusting he will not leave the manse till he takes a “drap a yel, a his ain brewin.” This is of course acceded to. The ale being handed round in plenty, and bein found to be good, “an' what is na gui that the minister hes,” they engage themselves for some time, “while news much older than their ale goes round.” The musicians meanwhile play such airs as “The Reel Rawe,” “The Bonny Bit,” “Laddie Wylam away,” &c. The dance goes round, “the young contending as the old survey,” until silence is called, when “his worship" gives as a toast, “Health, wealth, milk, and meal, the de'al takye a' thot disent wish him (the minister) weal—hip ! hip ! huzza!" Raising “his worship” shoulder height again, they proceed round the village, repeating their gambols in front of very respectable house where they meet with a similar reception. After this, foot-racing commences, for hats, handkerchiefs, and (as Mathews calls them) she-shirts. The several races run and prizes distributed, they return to the last and gayest of their mirthful scenes, not without bestowing some little pains in selecting colours calculated to give the finishing touches to the picture. “Wi' merry sangs, an' friendly cracks, I wat they did na weary; An' unco tales, an’ funny jokes, Their sports were cheap an' cheary. * o - * Syne, wi' a social glass o' strunt, #. parted aff careerin, Fu' blythe that night.”
So ends the fair of Avingham and its sports, which was to me, “in my youthful days,” a source of great amusement; but whether it is in comparing the pre