Traditions and Folklore

A Christmas Custom

on Tuesday, 10 December 2013. Posted in Traditions and Folklore

Mummers’ plays were an important part of Christmas for many agricultural labourers in the 19th and early 20th centuries. These seem to be first recorded in the mid 18th century and although there are medieval precedents the connections between the two are uncertain. The later ones provided an opportunity for poorly paid labourers to make some extra income by taking their play around the houses of local farmers and gentry where they would normally receive food, drink and some money.


Ganderflanking with Eminem

on Thursday, 05 December 2013. Posted in Traditions and Folklore

It all started with an interview on the Radio Wiltshire morning show on the last Friday in November. I was there to talk about the Lacock Unlocked project, Wiltshire dialect and the Wiltshire Folk Life audio archive held at the Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre. After spouting ‘The Farmers Rant’, a rap in Wiltshire dialect, we talked about old dialect words, long forgotten or fallen out of use. Presenter Sim was much taken with the word ‘ganderflanking’ meaning aimless messing around.

Within minutes of the interview concluding he had begun a campaign to get the word into the Oxford English Dictionary. Listeners were encouraged to use the word and the editor of the OED was interviewed and later confirmed that the word did exist (phew!)


Easter Folklore

on Saturday, 23 March 2013. Posted in Traditions and Folklore

Easter was the feast of the pagan goddess of spring, Eoste. It was a tradition to give a gift of coloured eggs which represented the new life of the countryside.

Hot cross buns were baked on Good Friday and were ‘carefully hung up in the inglenook, and kept for medicinal purposes’! A small piece of the dried bun was grated and mixed with water – it was drunk as a cure for diarrhoea, but to work it must be hand baked on a Good Friday! The provision of hot cross buns on Good Friday is thought to be one of the strongest surviving symbols of pre-reformation England.

It has been said that to wash clothes on Good Friday was considered an awful sin. A story is told ‘A young woman went a –washing on Good Friday. As she were about it, up comes a gentleman, and he asks the way somewhers, most pleasant like’. While he stands talking, the woman chances to look at his feet, and discovers he has a cloven foot; so she answers him very shortly, and refuses the money he offers her. ‘Whereupon the gentleman, who, of course, is the Devil, walks away, and the woman, in a fright, puts aside her washing’. You should always wear something new on Easter Sunday, ‘for good fortune’. A new pair of gloves was the luckiest item, and these were often given as an Easter present. Told by A. Clark in 1893.


Family entertainment enjoyed by all...

on Thursday, 04 March 2010. Posted in Traditions and Folklore

Victorian style!

Hundreds of visitors of all ages enjoyed a great day of family entertainment at our Victorian Day just over a week ago.

Dr Cuttlebung and his brother Decimus were on hand to deal with any medical emergencies – however as Victorian medicines contained cocaine, strychnine and lead its lucky no-one required first aid. The cure could well have killed them!

Family entertainment enjoyed by all...
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