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Blessing of Bacon.—“ Anno 1395—33.—John Bukingham, Bp. of Lincolns, takes notice of a custom at Nettleham, near Lincoln, for the people to oblige the rector of the church, at Easter, immediately after high Mass, to bring a piece of bacon to the church, and during the time of service solemnly to bless it; and that being done it was carried from house to house through the parish velut quoddam sacramentale-as something sacred. This Bishop calls it a part of idolatry and a superstitious practice, and as such condemns and forbids it of excommunication. (Memoranda Bukingham Epi. MS.) The custom. is still observed in many, especially the western parts of England, to bring out the gammon of bacon on Easter Day to entertain their friends.”*
Barbers' Sunday- Custom.--" It was an old custom for the barbers to come and shave the parishioners in the churchyard on Sundays and high festivals before matins, which liberty was restrained by a particular inhibition of Richard Flemmyng, Bp. of Lincoln, 1422."†
Burning of the Hill.-(Mendip Hills; Somersetshire.) “The Groviers,—for so the miners are called, as the pits they sink are called groves-living at some distance, leave their tools, and the ore they have got, sometimes open upon the hill, or at most only shut up in a slight hut. Whoever among them steals any thing, and is found guilty, is thus punished; he is shut up in a hut, and then dry fern, furz, and such other combustible matter, is put round it, and fire set to it. When it is on fire, the criminal, who has his hands and feet at liberty, may
per procuratores suos percipiebant, unde ne denarium quidem hodie capiunt. Tantò magis est lucritiva superstitio quam religio orthodoxa. Unde proverbiù nunc temporis agitatum, he will follow me like a Tantonie pig'-FRITH; CATAL. DECAN. ET CANON, de Windesor."
IDEM, folio 16.
with them (if he can) break down his hut, and making himself a passage out of it, get free and be gone; but he must never come to work, nor have to do any more on the hill. This they call, BURNING OF THE HILL.'
Riding of Women.—“ Here also died Anne, wife of King Richard II., sister to Wenceslaus, the emperor, and daughter of the emperor Charles IV.; she first taught the English women that way of riding on horseback, which is now in use, whereas formerly their custom was—though a very unbecoming one-to ride astride like the men."†
Roses on Graves.—" Here also (Ockley, in Surry, so called from the oaks)—is a certain custom, observed time out of mind, of planting rose-trees upon the graves, especially by the young men and maids, who have lost their lovers, so that this church-yard is now full of them. It is the more reasonable, because we may observe it to have been anciently used both among the Greeks and Romans, who were so very religious in it, that we find it often annexed as a codicil to their wills-(as appears by an old inscription at Ravenna, and another at Milan. Hence that of Propertius implying the usage of burying amidst roses. And old Anacreon speaking of it says that 'it does protect the dead.' "'§
Debts in the Isle of Man." They had here an old custom concerning debts which is now abolished. When the debtor died and was buried, and there remained no *Camden's Britannia, by Gibson, vol. 1, p. 185, fol., London.
Id., vol. 1, p. 238.
"Illa meo caros donasset funere crines,
Molliter et tenera poneret ossa rosa."
PROPERTII ELEGIA Xvii. v. 21.
§ Camden's Britannia, vol. 1, p. 236. The passage alluded to by Camden is Anacreon's second Ode to the Rose.
writings to prove the debt, the creditor came to the grave of the deceased and laid himself all along with his back upon the grave, with his face towards Heaven, and a bible on his breast; and there he protested before God that is above him, and by the contents of the bible on his breast, that the decease there buried under him did owe him so much money, and then the executors were bound to pay him. But in the year 1609 this custom was abolished."*
Leap-Candle-Dancing the Candle Rush.-"The young girls in and about Oxford have a sport called LeapCandle, for which they set a candle in the middle of the room in a candlestick, and then draw up their coats into the form of breeches, and dance over the candle back and forth with these words,
The tailor of Bicitert he has but one eye
He can not cut a pair of green galagaskins if he were to die. This sport is called in other parts, dancing the candlerush."
Invisibility." Take on Midsummer night at twelve, when all the planets are above the earth, a serpent, and kill him, and skinne him; and dry it in the shade, and bring it to a powder. Hold it in your hand, and it will be invisible. This receipt is in Joannes de Florentia (a Rosycrucian) a booke in 8vo. in High Dutch. Ridgeley, the physitian hath it, who told me of this."§
A Magicall Receipt to know whom we shall marry "Eggs roasted hard, and the yolke taken out, and salt putt in its Additions to the Isle of Man; p. 1066, Gibson's Edition of
i.e. Bicester, Bisseter, or Burcester, situated on a stream that runs into the Charwell at Islip.
AUBREY'S REMAINS OF GENTILISME, fol. 123. MS. Bibl: Langdown; 231. This notice however has the initials M. K. to it.
§ Idem, folio 131.
sted, filled up, to be eaten fasting to your supper when
A marginal note however says, "I think only one egge."
But all this
to be done in serious silence without one word or
New-Moon." In Yorkshire, &c., northwards, some
Misselto (Mistletoe).-"As for the magical qualities of
* I know of no such place as Albury, or Albery, in Oxfordshire.
IDEM, folio 137.
IDEM, folio 139. I have also given another account of the
SIDEM, folio 151.
solemnity. For after sacrifice the priest in a white garment ascended the tree, cut down the misselto with a golden hook, and received it in a white coate ;* the virtue whereof was to resist all poisons, and make fruitful any that used it-vertues not expected from classical practice; and did they fully answer their promise, which are so commended in epileptical intentions,† we would abate‡ these qualities. Country practices hath added another, to provoke after-birth—and in that case its decoction is given unto cows. That the berries are poison as some conceive, we are so far from averring, that we have safely given them inwardly; and can confirm the experiment of Brassavolus, that they have some purgative quality."||
Oak-leaves and Acorns.- "The Druides performed no sacred services without the leaves of oak, and not only the Germans, but the Greeks, adorned their altars with green leaves of oak. In the rites performed to Ceres they were crowned with oak; in those of Apollo, with bays; in those to Hercules with poplar; in those to Bacchus with myrtle (qy. vine?) Was not the oak
* i.e., a white cloth, or tunic. In Holland's translation of Pliny, from whom it is plain that Aubrey has borrowed this account, we find, "the priest araied in a surplesse or white vesture climeth up into the tree, and with a golden hooke or bill cutteth it off, and they beneath receive it in a white soldier's cassock or coat of arms. (Holland's Pliny, Book xvi, chap. 44, p. 497, vol. 1.) Now the original word in Pliny is indeed sagum, which in its most common acceptation meant a military robe; but as soldiers' equipments seem quite out of place in a religious ceremony, and as sagum was also used for the cloth, of which the cassock was made, I have no doubt that Pliny meant us merely to understand a white cloth, or woollen robe.
Disregard, dispense with.
§ By country-practice, Aubrey means the practice of the rustics. AUBREY'S REMAINS of Gentilisme, &c.; folio 154.