Weather And Folk Lore Of Peterborough And District Part 4

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The day on which Harvest was finished, and the corn safely "Hovelled"

used to be called "Wheat Hovel Day."

It was also the custom to decorate the last sheaf of corn with ribbons and flowers (It was only a small sheaf) and it was fastened to the wall inside the barn and left there until the next Harvest.


Hail, falling leaves! that patter round, Admonishers and friends.

Come pensive Autumn, with thy clouds and storms, And falling leaves and pastimes lost to flowers. _Clare._


These were a.s.semblies of people after Michaelmas in want of servants (male or female) who were not hired at the Statutes held before Michaelmas.


The 11th November is generally called Martlemas Day and old people still watch for the direction of the wind at noon on this day as they believe it will continue in that quarter for the next three months.

It is also a saying that if the ice will bear a duck before Martlemas it will not bear a goose all winter.


When Winter comes in earnest to fulfil His yearly task at bleak November's close.

Sybil of months, and worshipper of winds I love thee, rude and boisterous as thou art. _Clare._


The Lay Clerks of the Cathedral and friends used to be entertained by the Dean and Chapter at a dinner at which a boiled leg of mutton was the princ.i.p.al dish. After dinner songs and glees were sung.


The female children belonging to the Workhouse were dressed in white, trimmed with coloured ribbons, and went in a procession headed by the Workhouse Master and the tallest girl who wore a crown of gilt paper and carried a sceptre and distaff. They stopped at the houses of the princ.i.p.al inhabitants and sang this song. Money was given them and they had rump steak and onions for dinner, and a tea party, and games in the evening:

Here comes Queen Katrin 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, etc.

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, etc.

All that want employment though spinning is but small, Come list and don't stand still, but go and work for all.

And a spinning we will go, etc.

If we set a spinning we will either work or play, But if we set a spinning we can earn a crown a day.

And a spinning we will go, etc.

And if there be some young men, as I suppose there's some, We'll hardly let them stand alone upon the cold, cold, stone.

And a spinning we will go.

Spinning was the employment for the females in the old Work house, and in the Dean and Chapter's accounts of payments there are entries of payments on St. Catherine's Day for wheels and reels for the children of the Workhouse.



December 11th, commonly called "Tander," used to be kept by the Lace-makers as a feast day. St. Andrew was their Patron Saint. On that day men and women used to go about dressed in each other's clothes, and calling at various houses and drinking hot elder wine. On this day the Morris Dancers or Mummers began their visits. There were from four to eight people who took part in the Mummery. The King, Beelzebub, Doctor, Doctor's man and Jack, the fool. Sometimes one took the part of the Doctor's horse and the Doctor made his entry riding on the horse, who was on his hands and knees but he generally had a small stool in his hands to make him a little higher, when moving about. This is described in Old Customs.

On St. Andrew's Day it was a custom called "Tander" at Easton on the Hill, about 12 miles from Peterborough, and other places, of the boys locking the village Schoolmaster out of School and demanding the rest of the day as a holiday, before the door was reopened. If the Schoolmaster could obtain an entrance to the School before giving his consent, the holiday was not given.


The practice of women going Gooding is fast pa.s.sing away. Very few bands of women are seen now in the towns, but at Farcet last year (1910) the widows received about two shillings each for their share.


For a few weeks before Christmas Day the Waits and Singers still come round during the night time and on Boxing Days they call for their Christmas Boxes. The singers have now degenerated into two or three children who huddle together on the doorsteps of houses and sing through the keyhole and letter box as fast and as loud as they can utter the various hymns of which, "When shepherds watched their flocks by night."

As soon as they receive a halfpenny away they trot to the next house to repeat the performance.

A Green Christmas makes a fat Churchyard.

If a Christmas Day on a Thursday be, A windy winter we shall see.

If the sun shines on Christmas day for however short a time, the following year will be good for fruit.


Called "Dyzema.s.s Day," it is considered very unlucky to begin anything on this day and about sixty or seventy years ago many old people kept this day more sacred than an ordinary Sunday.


In the old County families the Christmas or New Year's dances in which tenants and servants all united together are still kept up in this district and antic.i.p.ated and enjoyed as heartily as ever. The up-to-date dances are divided by the old Country dances which go with a vim and are enjoyed by all. In these dances the Master, Mistress, family and friends dance with the servants to the mutual good will and good feeling of all concerned. The dance is generally opened by a Country dance in which the Lady has the Butler for a partner and the Master the Housekeeper, and it is generally a handsacross and down the middle so that everyone meets during the dance. "The triumph" is a great favourite and opens with the lady being taken down the centre by the gentleman next to her partner who follows them to the bottom of the room and the two bring her back, each holding her by one hand and their other hands clasped and held over the ladys head with a very pretty effect.

"La Tempete" for noise and merriment takes a lot of beating and would suit the modern dancing as it partakes more of a romp than a dance.

The "Ribbon Dance" when each couple holds the end of a ribbon (red, white, or blue). This is very pretty when the ribbons are held up in the dance. There are many others which might be mentioned but s.p.a.ce is limited. Sir Roger de Coverley always closed the ball.

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Weather And Folk Lore Of Peterborough And District Part 4 summary

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