« AnteriorContinuar »
Your transient colours, fleet as theirs,
They heard—they frown'd—but fled the
green, As if a thunderbolt had been.
Lottwithiel Custom. A very singular custom formerly prevailed at Lostwithiel, in Cornwall, on Easter Sunday. The freeholders of the town and manor having assembled together, either in person or by their deputies, one among them, each in his turn, gaily attired and gallantly mounted, with a sceptre in his hand, a crown on his head, and a sword borne before him, and respectfully attended by all the rest on horseback, rode through the principal street in solemn state to the church. At the churchyard stile, the curate, or other minister, approached to meet him in reverential pomp, and then conducted him to church to hear divine service. On leaving the church, he repaired, with the same pomp and retinue, to a honse previously prepared for his reception. Here a feast, suited to the dignity he had assumed, awaited him and his suite; and, being placed at the head of the table, he was served, kneeling, with all the rites and ceremonies that a real prince might expect. This ceremony ended with the dinner; the prince being voluntarily disrobed, and descending from his momentary exaltation, to mix with common mortals. On the origin of this custom, but one opinion can be reasonably entertained, though it may be difficult to trace the precise period of its commencement. It seems to have originated in the actual appearance of the prince, who resided at Restormel castle in former ages; but on the removal of royalty, this mimic grandeur stepped forth as its shadowy representative, and continued for many generations as a memorial to posterity of the princely magnificence with which Lostwithiel had formerly been honoured.*
• Hitchin.'i Cornwall
The Biddenden Maids. To the Editor of the Every-Day Book. Tenterden, February, 1826.
Sir,—I beg to enclose you a specimen of a Biddenden cake, and a printed account, which you may perhaps think worth insertion in the Every-Day Book.
The small town of Biddenden is about four miles from Tenterden, on the right of the road. It is at present populous, though the clothing manufacture, which first occasioned the increase of the population of this part of the county, in the reign of Edward III. when the Flemings first introduced it, has for many years failed here: several good houses, still remaining, discover the prosperity of the former inhabitants. The church is a handsome regular building, and its tower a structure of a considerable height and strength; a portion of the old part is still remaining. In this there is a free grammar school, endowed with a good house and garden, and a salary of 20/. per annum. Two maiden sisters left some land adjoining the glebe to the parish, of the rent of 20/. a year, which is held by the churchwardens, and distributed in bread to the poor on Easter-day. A representation of the donors is impressed on the leaves, and on the cakes, which were formerly thrown from the roof of the church.
In the high chancel against the north wall is a monument, with a bust in white marble, executed by Scheemaker, of sir John Norris, who died in 1749; admiral of the British fleets, and vice-admiral of England. I am, &c. J. J. A. F.
Tie " Biddenden cake," transmitted through this obliging correspondent, appears to have been made some years ago, and carefully preserved; the " printed account" accompanying it, is " adorned" by a wood cut figure of the founders of the endowment, improved by the engraver from the impressions on the cakes. But, altogether setting aside that wood cut, the annexed engraving is an exact representation of the baker's impress on the cake sent to the editor, and w of the exact size of the cake. A verbatim copy of the " printed account" on a half sheet of demy, circulated at this time, is subjoined to the present engraving.
A NEW AND ENLARGED ACCOUNT OF THE
BIDDENDEN MAIDS IN KENT,
BORN JOINED AT THE HIPS AND SHOULDERS: With a well authenticated Account of a similar Phenomenon of Two Brothers.
ON Easter Sunday in every year after Divine Service in the afternoon at the Parish Of Biddenden, in the County of Kent, there are by the Churchwardens, given to Strangers about 1000 Rolls, with an impression on them similar to the Plate. The origin of this Custom is thus related.
In the year 1100 at Biddenden, in Kent, were born Elizabeth and Mary Chi'licHurst, Joined together by the Hips and Shoulders, and who lived in that state, Thirty Four Years!! at the expiration of which time, one of them was taken ill and after a shoit period died ; the surviving one was advised to be separated from the corpse which she absolutely refused by saying these words, " as we came together, we will also go together," and about six hours after her sister's decease, she was taken ill and died also. A Stone near the Rector't Pew marked with a diagonal line is shewn as the place of their interment.
C$t moon on tlje cast oriel ilfant, Chrough, sltnBtt sljafts of shaptli) stout, C^t iiibtx ligfrt, 40 pah ana faint, $t)ttortl tfjetujinStStnSanu manna Saint, ZEOfoit tmagrS on tfjc glass tone onto ; fBtosttriouS maiocnS Siot bg sioe. CI)t moon btam feissrtJ tljt ijoly Pant> ^no thrth) on tljt pabtmtnt a mnstit Stain.
It is farther stated, that by their will, they bequeathed to the Churchwardens of the Parish of Biddenden, and their successors, Churchwardens for ever, certain pieces or parcels of Land in the Parish, containing about 20 Acres, which is hired at 40 Guineas per annum, and that in commemoration of this wonderful Phenomenon of Nature, the Rolls and about 300 Quartern Loaves and Cheese in proportion, should be given 1o the Poor Inhabitants of the Parish.
This account is entirely traditionary, the Learned Antiquarian Hasted, in his account of the Charities of the Parish, states the Land " was the gift of two Maidens, of the name of Preston: and that the print of the women on the cakes has only been used within these 80 years, and was made to represent two poor widows, as the general objects of a charitable benefaction." It is probable that the investigation of the learned Antiquary, brought to light some record of the name of the Ladies, for in the year 1656, the Rev. W. Horner, then Rector of the Parish, claimed the Land, as having been given to augment his glebe, but was non-suited in the court of Exchequer. In the pleadings preserved in the Church, the names of the Ladies are not stated, not being known. There are also two other Places where such Phenomena are said to have occurred.
If these statements weaken the credibility of the tradition, the following account of a Lusus Natures, compiled from the London Medical Repository, for 1821, page 138, will unquestionably confirm the opinion of many as to the probability of the Phenomenon of the Biddenden Maids,—Mr. Livingstone, the Surgeon of the British Factory at Canton, relates that there was shewn at Macao, A-he, a boy about sixteen years of age, to whom was attached another Male Child, united at the pit of the stomach by the neck, as if his head was plunged into Ake's breast. At the time of their birth they were nearly of an equal sixe, but the parasite has not much increased since that period. The skin of A-he joins regularly and smoothly, the neck of the parasite, so that he can turn his brother on either of his sides upon himself, but the natural position is breast to breast; on the whole the parasite is well formed being about two feet
in length. A-he thinks that at one period their feelings were reciprocal, but for some
time he has not perceived it except in one particular act, when his brother never fails to do the same, ne however feels the slightest touch applied to his brother.
A-he has generally a sickly appearance, but excepting the parasite, is well formed; about 4 feet 10 inches high ; is easily fatigued in walking or ascending a flight of steps being obliged to support his brother with his hands. When fatigued he breathes with difficulty, and is only relieved by laying down.
CHAMBERS Add EXALL, Printen, (Kingi Arms Printing Office) TENTERDEN.
The preceding " account" is an enlarge- Biddenden is completely thronged. The
ment of a preceding one of the same size, public houses are crowded with people
on a larger type, with this imprint, attracted from the adjacent towns and
"Biddenden: Printed and Sold by R. villages by the usage, and the wonderful
Weston—1808. [Price Twopence.]" account of its origin, and the day is spent
R. Weston's paper does not contain the in rude festivity.
story of "A-he," which is well calculated to
make the legend of the "Biddenden To elucidate this annual custom as
Maids," pass current with the vulgar. fully as possible, all that Mr. Hasted says
Our Tenterden correspondent adds, in of the matter is here extracted :— • subsequent letter, that, on Easter Sunday, "Twenty acres of land, called the
Bread and Cheese Land, lying in fire pieces, were given by persons unknown, the yearly rents to be distributed among the poor of this parish. This is yearly done Od Easter Sunday in the afternoon, in six hundred cakes, each of which have the figures of two woman impressed on them, and are given to all such as attend the church; and two hundred and seventy loaves, weighing three pounds and a half a piece, to which latter is added one pound and an half of cheese, are given, to the parishoners only, at the same time. "There is a vulgar tradition in these parts, that the figures on the cakes represent the donors of this gift, being two women, twins, who were joined together in their bodies, and lived together so, till they were between twenty and thirty years of age. But this seems without foundation. The truth seems to be, that it was the gift of two maidens of the name of Preston, and that the print of the women on the cakes has taken place only within these fifty years, and was made to represent two poor widows as the general objects of a charitable benefaction. William Horner, rector of this parish in 1656 brought a suit in the exchequer for the recovery of these lands, as having been given for an augmentation of his glebe land, but he was nonsuited. The lands ate bounded on the east by the glebe, on the south by the highway, and one piece on the north of the highway; they are altogether of the yearly value of about 311 10*."*
Allusion is made by the rev. Mr. Fosbroke, to a custom in the thirteenth century of seizing all ecclesiastics who walked abroad between Easter and Pentecost, because the apostles were seized by the Jews after Christ's passion; and making them purchase their liberty by money.f
Mr. Brand relates, "that on Easter Sunday, is still retained at the city of Durham in the Easter holidays: on one day the men take off the women's shoes, or rather buckles, which are only to be redeemed by a present: on another day the women make reprisals, taking off the men's in like manner." The annexed letter shows that the practice in that city is not quite out of fashion, though buckles are.
To the Editor of the Every-Day Book.
Durham, March 3, 1826. Sir,—To contribute towards the information you desire to convey concerning popular customs, Sec. I will describe one, much practised in Durham, which I think you nave not noticed in the former volume of your interesting work.
On Easter Sunday it is a common custom here, for a number of boys to assemble in the afternoon, and as soon as the clock strikes four, scour the streets in parties, and accost every female they may happen to meet, with " pay for your shoes if you please," at the same time, stooping to take them off; which, if they do, and do not immediately get a penny or twopence, they will actually carry off by main force. I have known the boys have, at least, a dozen odd shoes; but generally, something is given, which in the evening they either spend in public houses, or divide. On Easter Monday, the women claim the same privilege towards the male sex. They begin much earlier in the day, and attack every man and boy they can lay hold of to make them pay for their shoes; if the men happen to wear boots, and will not pay any thing, the girls generally endeavour to seize their hats and run off. If a man catches the girl with the hat, it is usually thrown or handed about to the great amusement of the spectators, till the person is baffled out of a sixpence to redeem the right of wearing it again: but this, like all other old customs, has greatly fallen off lately, and is now chiefly practised by a few children.
I am, Sec.
A contributor to the " Gentleman's Magazine" in August, 1790, says that, at Rippon, in Yorkshire, "on Easter Sunday, as soon as the service of the church is over, the boys run about the streets, and lay hold of every woman or girl they can, and take their buckles from their shoes. This farce is continued till the next day at noon, when the females begin, and return the compliment upon the men, which does not end till Tuesday evening; nay, I was told that, some years ago, no traveller could pass through the town without being stopped and having his spurs taken away, unless redeemed by a little money, which is the only way to have your buckles returned.""
Pressing in Church.
On the morning of Easter Sunday, 1596, during the reign of queen Elizabeth, the lord mayor and aldermen of London received the royal command to -aise a thousand men with the utmost expedition; wherefore they repaired with iheir deputies, constables, and other officers, to the churches, and having caused the doors to be shut, took the people during divine service from their worship, till the number was completed, and having armed them, the men, so raised and equipped, were marched the same night for Dover, in order to their embarkation for France; but in the mean time, Elizabeth having received advice of the reduction of Calais by the Spaniards, they were countermanded, and returned to the city in about a week after their departure.*
Easteh Day Customs At Twickenham and Paddington. According to Mr. Lysons, " There was an ancient custom at Twickenham, of dividing two great cakes in the church upon Easter-day among the young people; but it being looked upon as a superstitious relic, it was ordered by parliament, 1645, that the parishioners should forbear that custom, and, instead thereof, buy loaves of bread for the poor of the parish with the money that should have bought the cakes. It appears that the sum of £1. per annum is still charged upon the vicarage for the purpose of buying penny loaves for poor children on the Thursday after Easter. Within the memory of man they were thrown from the church-steeple to be scrambled for; a custom which prevailed also, some lime ago, at Paddington, and is not yet totally abolished." A correspondent imagines that the Paddington custom of throwing bread from the church-steeple, which exists also in other parishes, was derived from largesses bestowed on the poor by the Romish clergy on occasion of the festival, and that it has been continued since the Reformation, and, therefore, since the institution of poor rates, without due regard to its original object.
Biddenden Custom. Since the former sheet was printed, an article occurs to the editor in the " Gentleman's Magazine," which it seems proper to
notice. The writer there states, that" Biddenden is a parish of great extent, as most parishes in the wealdof Kent are;" that this part of the country is called the weald, "from the growth of large timber, oak particularly;" that the town of Biddenden is about five miles equi-distant from three several market towns, Cranbrook, Smarden, and Tenterden ; and is distant about fifteen miles from Maidstone. On the same authority, is now added that it does not furnish any antique inscriptions, nor does the weald in general yield the inquirer any thing antique or invaluable to repay his search. In the reign of queen Elizabeth, John Mayne, esq. endowed" a good house and garden with 20/. per annum, for a free grammar school, which owing to the salary being fixed at that amount by the founder, is neither eligible to persons qualified under the regulations, nor is it capable of being increased. The visitation of the school, was formerly in the archbishop of Canterbury, but is so no longer, and the schoolmaster is appointed by the lord. The archbishop is patron of the rectory, which, in the reign of Henry VIII., was valued so high as 35/. The fair here is on the 8th of November. Mr. Urban's correspondent noticing "the two maided-sisters who grew together from the waist downwards, refers to accounts of similar wonders, and waggishly ends his list by directing to the "Memoirs of Scriblerus, by A Pope," as an authority corroborative of the apocryphal "Biddenden Maids."
Paste Eggs. A correspondent, T. A., mentions this custom in Cheshire: " Children go round the village and beg eggs for their Easter dinner; they accompany it by a short song, which I am sorry I am unable to present to you, but the burthen of it is addressed to the farmer's dame, and asking 'an egg, bacon, cheese, or an apple, or any good thing that will make us merry,' ends with 'And I pray you, good dame, an Easter egg.'"
In Cumberland and Westmorland, and other parts of the north of England, boys beg, on Easter eve, eggs to play with, and beggars ask for them to eat. These eggs are hardened by boiling, and tinged with the juice of herbs, broom-flowers, &c. The eggs being thus prepared, the boys go out and play with them in the fields;