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Old English Sports, Pastimes and Customs   By: (1854-1930)

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First Page:

OLD ENGLISH SPORTS

Pastimes and Customs

by

P. H. DITCHFIELD, M.A.

Fellow of the Royal Historical Society; Rector of Barkham, Berks Hon. Sec. of Berks Arch├Žological Society, etc.

First published by Methuen & Co., 1891

TO

LADY RUSSEL

THIS BOOK IS DEDICATED WITH THE AUTHOR'S KINDEST REGARDS.

PREFACE.

Encouraged by the kind reception which his former book, Our English Villages , met with at the hands of both critics and the public, the author has ventured to reproduce in book form another series of articles which have appeared during the past year in the pages of The Parish Magazine . He desires to express his thanks to Canon Erskine Clarke for kindly permitting him to reprint the articles, which have been expanded and in part rewritten. The Sports and Pastimes of England have had many chroniclers, both ancient and modern, amongst whom may be mentioned Strutt, Brand, Hone, Stow, and several others, to whose works the writer is indebted for much valuable information.

The object of this book is to describe, in simple language, the holiday festivals as they occurred in each month of the year; and the sports, games, pastimes, and customs associated with these rural feasts. It is hoped that such a description may not be without interest to our English villagers, and perhaps to others who love the study of the past. Possibly it may help forward the revival of the best features of old village life, and the restoration of some of those pleasing customs which Time has deprived us of. The writer is much indebted to Mr. E.R.R. Bindon for his very careful revision of the proof sheets.

BARKHAM RECTORY, 1891.

CONTENTS.

CHAPTER I.

JANUARY.

Dedication Festivals New Year's Day "Wassail" Twelfth Night "King of the Bean" St. Distaffs Day Plough Monday Winter Games Skating Sword dancing

CHAPTER II.

FEBRUARY.

Hunting Candlemas Day St. Blaize's Day Shrove tide Football Battledore and Shuttlecock Cock throwing

CHAPTER III.

MARCH.

Archery Lent "Mothering" Sunday Palm Sunday "Shere" Thursday Watching the Sepulchre

CHAPTER IV.

APRIL.

Easter Customs Pace Eggs Handball in Churches Sports confined to special localities Stoolball and Barley brake Water Tournament: Quintain Chester Sports Hock tide

CHAPTER V.

MAY.

May day Festivities May pole Morris dancers The Book of Sports Bowling Beating the Bounds George Herbert's description of a Country Parson

CHAPTER VI.

JUNE.

Whitsuntide Sports Church ales Church house Quarter staff Whistling and Jingling Matches St. John's Eve Wrestling

CHAPTER VII.

JULY.

Cricket Club ball Trap ball Golf Pall mall Tennis Rush bearing

CHAPTER VIII.

AUGUST.

Lammas Day St. Roch's Day Harvest Home "Ten pounding" Sheep shearing "Wakes" Fairs

CHAPTER IX.

SEPTEMBER.

Hawking Michaelmas Bull and Bear baiting

CHAPTER X.

OCTOBER.

Tournaments "Mysteries" "Moralities" Pageants

CHAPTER XI.

NOVEMBER.

All hallow Eve "Soul Cakes" Diving for Apples The Fifth of November Martinmas "Demands Joyous " Indoor Games

CHAPTER XII.

DECEMBER.

St. Nicholas' Day The Boy Bishop Christmas Eve Christmas Customs Mummers "Lord of Misrule" Conclusion

INDEX

CHAPTER I.

JANUARY.

"Come then, come then, and let us bring Unto our pretty Twelfth Tide King, Each one his several offering."

HERRICK'S Star Song .

Dedication Festivals New Year's Day "Wassail" Twelfth Night "King of the Bean" St. Distaff's Day Plough Monday Winter Games Skating Sword dancing.

In the old life of rural England few things are more interesting than the ancient sports and pastimes, the strange superstitions, and curious customs which existed in the times of our forefathers. We remember that our land once rejoiced in the name of "Merry England," and perhaps feel some regret that many of the outward signs of happiness have passed away from us, and that in striving to become a great and prosperous nation, we have ceased to be a genial, contented, and happy one... Continue reading book >>




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