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Saturday, 31 October 2015

Bell-ringing, Stone Heads and Ghosts - The Customs and Traditions of Halloween in Dorset

Today is Hallowe'en, otherwise known as All Hallows Eve, a time for fun and games, dressing up and ghost stories. Traditionally it was believed that malevolent spirits, witches and fairies were abroad on this night. (see also Walpurgisnacht - The Springtime Halloween)

Yet contrary to popular belief Hallowe’en does not ha
ve its origins in a celebration of evil but in an ancient celtic harvest festival of thanksgiving. The Celts split the year up into only two seasons: winter, which ran from November to the end of April, and summer, which ran from May to the end of October. They called the festival ‘Samhain’ (pronounced sow' an) meaning ‘Summer End’ and celebrated ‘The Feast of the Dying Sun’ by giving thanks for the year’s harvest, a Celtic equivalent of New Year's Eve.

Traditional Bonfire
Samhain marked the third and final harvest and the storage of provisions for the winter. It was a solar festival consisting of fire rituals and large bonfires that would be lit in honour of the sun, a tradition that still survives today as ‘Bonfire Night’ or ‘Bone Fire Night’ as it was originally called. The Celts believed that on the eve of Samhain the dead rose out of their graves to wander freely about the earth and make trouble by harming crops and causing domestic disturbances. The veil between the worlds of the living and the dead was believed to be at its thinnest point in the year at Samhain, making communication between the living and the dead much easier.

At the same time of year that the Celts were celebrating Samhain, the Romans celebrated the festival of Pomona, the goddess of orchards and the harvest. Apples and nuts were among the special foods used and these retained a place in surviving Halloween festivities.

When the Christian Church set out to convert follow
ers of pagan religions, church leaders astutely saw that they would have an easier time if they incorporated existing holy days and rites into their own. Worship of pagan deities was translated into veneration of the Christian saints. In the 7th century Pope Boniface IV introduced All Saints' Day to replace the pagan festival of the dead on May 13, 610, when he dedicated the Pantheon in Rome to St. Mary and other martyred Christians. Later, Gregory III reestablished the festival to honor the saints of St. Peter's Church and changed the date from May 13 to November 1 to coincide with pagan festivals. (Presently the Greek Orthodox Church still observes it on the first Sunday after Pentecost.) Later in 834AD, the Christian church adopted Samhain and renamed it ‘Hallow Tide’, ‘Hallow’ meaning ‘Holy’, Pope Gregory IV made the festival official, to be observed by all churches. So 31st October was named as ‘All Hallows’ Eve’, which later became known as ‘Hallowe’en’. Church bells would always be rung on Hallowe’en night in order to guide lost Christian souls back to the sanctuary of the church and at the same time, drive evil spirits away. The annual ringing still takes place at Milton Abbey, Milton Abbas

Dorset Folklorist, John Symonds Udal mentioned about the traditions of Hallowe'en Bell -ringing in his book 'Dorsetshire Folklore' published in 1922:
Hone is responsible for the statement that "At Blandford Forum, in Dorsetshire, 'there was a custom, in the papal times, to ring bells at Allhallow-tide for all Christian souls.'""
This assumes that this custom exited practically alon at Blandford.  Hutchins does not notice it; and I have very grave doubts myself whether this statement of Hone can be accepted as justifying this assumption. Brand states (i,310) that"it is stated in Kethe's sermon preached at Blandford Forum in Dorsetshire, January 17th, 1570, p.19, that 'there was a custom, in the papal times, to ring bells at Allhallow-tide for all Christian souls'." He thus shows the authority for Hon'es statement, which is contained in a sermon preached at Blandford in which this allusion to a very general custom appears to have been made.
Instead of sacrifices, the Church promoted honoring the dead with prayers. Food and wine offerings were replaced with soul cakes, little square buns decorated with currants. The cakes were given away to the village poor, who in turn would pray for the dead. "Soulers" would walk about begging for cakes.

The Christian Church also allowed masquerading but emphasized that it was to honor dead saints and not to frighten off spirits.

The Headless Martyr of Halstock

One Dorset Ghost is said to return to haunt the village of Halstock this night, at one hour after midnight. Th
e headless ghost of Saint Juthware is said to be seen carrying her head in the lane leading to Abbots Hill now know as Judith Hill. (see The Quiet Woman Legend)

The Silent Guardians - From Skulls to Stone Heads t
o Jack O' Lanterns.

Shipton Gorge Stone Head
In ancient times the importance of the skull as a sacred symbol originated in archaic beliefs identifying the cranium as the seat of the soul and the link with the world of spirits, hence their use as a protection against evil. In folklore we still see the relevance today as with the Skull of Bettiscombe Manor (see Bettiscombe Skull legend). Carved stone heads were made according to the same tradition of offering protection in hope of dispelling evil spirits from the threshold of buildings and sacred sites, as long as they were treated with respect.

The sacred heads were feared so much that many would not even speak of w
here the heads lay for fear of bad luck. Stone heads were also used for guardian and luck purposes and can still be seen to this day around Britain, two of which were discovered by Jim Chaplin in 1969 when land was being cleared for the construction of Rockway, Shipton Gorge and are now displayed in the Dorset County Museum.

This tradition of a symbolic guardian to the house is carried on today in the form of the surviving Hallowe’en custom of carving images on Jack o' Lanterns. This dates back to when the display of ancestral skulls were replaced by the old custom of using hollowed out turnips, beets or manglewurzels. Candles were used to create grotesque lanterns as a protection from evil. The Irish who immigrated to America found pumpkins a suitable substitute for turnips and beets and these have been an essential part of Halloween celebrations since Victorian days.


Below, extract taken from the Chambers Book of Days October 31st 1864, details the traditions of Halloween.

There is perhaps no night in the year which the popular imagination has stamped with a more peculiar character than the evening of the 31st of October, known as All Hallow's Eve, or Halloween. It is clearly a relic of pagan times, for there is nothing in the church observance of the ensuing day of All Saints to have originated such extra ordinary notions as are connected with this celebrated festival, or such remarkable practices as those by which it is distinguished.

The leading idea respecting Halloween is that it is the time, of all others, when supernatural influences prevail. It is the night set apart for a universal walking abroad of spirits, both of the visible and invisible world; for, as will be afterwards seen, one of the special characteristics attributed to this mystic evening, is the faculty conferred on the immaterial principle in humanity to detach itself from its corporeal tenement anal wander abroad through the realms of space. Divination is then believed to attain its highest power, and the gift asserted by Glendower of calling spirits 'from the vasty deep,' becomes available to all who choose to avail themselves of the privileges of the occasion.

There is a remarkable uniformity in the fireside customs of this night all over the United Kingdom. Nuts and apples are everywhere in requisition, and consumed in immense numbers. Indeed the name of Nutcrack Night, by which Halloween is known in the north of England, indicates the predominance of the former of these articles in making up the entertainments of the evening. They are not only cracked and eaten, but made the means of vaticination in love affairs. And here we quote from Burns's poem of Halloween:

The auld guidwife's well hoordit nits
Are round and round divided,
And mony lads' and lasses' fates
Are there that night decided:
Some kindle, couthie, side by side,
And burn thegither trimly;
Some start awa wi' saucy pride,
And jump out owre the chimly
Fu' high that night.
Jean slips in twa wi' tentie e'e;
Wha 'twas, she wadna tell;
But this is Jock, and this is me,
She says in to hersel':
He bleezed owre her, and she owre him,
As they wad never mair part;
Till, fuff! he started up the lum,
And Jean had e'en a sair heart
To see 't that night.'
Brand, in his Popular Antiquities, is more explicit:

'It is a custom in Ireland, when the young women would. know if their lovers are faithful, to put three nuts upon the bars of the grate, naming the nuts after the lovers. If a nut cracks or jumps, the lover will prove unfaithful; if it begins to blaze or burn, he has a regard for the person making the trial. If the nuts named after the girl and her lover burn together, they will be married.'
As to apples, there is an old custom, perhaps still observed in some localities on this merry night, of hanging up a stick horizontally by a string from the ceiling, and putting a candle on the one end, and an apple on the other. The stick being made to twirl rapidly, the merry makers in succession leap up and snatch at the apple with their teeth (no use of the hands being allowed), but it very frequently happens that the candle comes round before they are aware, and scorches them in the face, or anoints them with grease. The disappointments and misadventures occasion, of course, abundance of laughter. But the grand sport with apples on Halloween, is to set them afloat in a tub of water, into which the juveniles, by turns, duck their heads with the view of catching an apple. Great fun goes on in watching the attempts of the youngster in the pursuit of the swimming fruit, which wriggles from side to side of the tub, and evades all attempts to capture it; whilst the disappointed aspirant is obliged to abandon the chase in favour of another whose turn has now arrived. 

The apples provided with stalks are generally caught first, and then comes the tug of war to win those which possess no such append-ages. Some competitors will deftly suck up the apple, if a small one, into their mouths. Others plunge manfully overhead in pursuit of a particular apple, and having forced it to the bottom of the tub, seize it firmly with their teeth, and emerge, dripping and triumphant, with their prize. This venturous procedure is generally rewarded with a hurrah! by the lookers on, and is recommended, by those versed in Halloween aquatics, as the only sure method of attaining success. In recent years, a practice has been introduced, probably by some tender mammas, timorous on the subject of their offspring catching cold, of dropping a fork from a height into the tub among the apples, and thus turning the sport into a display of marksmanship. It forms, however, but a very indifferent substitute for the joyous merriment of ducking and diving.

It is somewhat remarkable, that the sport of ducking for apples is not mentioned by Burns, whose celebrated poem of Halloween presents so graphic a picture of the ceremonies practised on that evening in the west of Scotland, in the poet's day. Many of the rites there described are now obsolete or nearly so, but two or three still retain place in various parts of the country. Among these is the custom still prevalent in Scotland, as the initiatory Halloween ceremony, of pulling kailstocks or stalks of colewort. The young people go out hand in hand, blindfolded, into the kailyard or garden, and each pulls the first stalk which he meets with. They then return to the fireside to inspect their prizes. According as the stalk is big or little, straight or crooked, so shall the future wife or husband be of the party by whom it is pulled. The quantity of earth sticking to the root denotes the amount of fortune or dowry; and the taste of the pith or custoc indicates the temper. Finally, the stalks are placed, one after another, over the door, and the Christian names of the persons who chance thereafter to enter the house are held in the same succession to indicate those of the individuals whom the parties are to marry.

Another ceremony much practised on Halloween, is that of the Three Dishes or Luggies. Two of these are respectively filled with clean and foul water, and one is empty. They are ranged on the hearth, when the parties, blindfolded, advance in succession, and dip their fingers into one. If they dip into the clean water, they are to marry a maiden; if into the foul water, a widow; if into the empty dish, the party so dipping is destined to be either a bachelor or an old maid. As each person takes his turn, the position of the dishes is changed. Burns thus describes the custom:

In order, on the clean hearth stane,
The luggies three are ranged,
And every time great care is ta'en
To see them duly changed:
Auld uncle John, wha wedlock's joys
Sin' Mar's year did desire,
Because he gat the toom dish thrice,
He heaved them on the fire
In wrath that night.

The ceremonies above described are all of a light sportive description, but there are others of a more weird like and fearful character, which in this enlightened incredulous age have fallen very much into desuetude. One of these is the celebrated spell of eating an apple before a looking glass, with the view of discovering the inquirer's future husband, who it is believed will be seen peeping over her shoulder. A curious, and withal, cautious, little maiden, who desires to try this spell, is thus represented by Burns:

'Wee Jenny to her granny says:
"Will ye go wi' me, granny?
I'll eat the apple at the glass,
I gat frae uncle Johnny."'
A request which rouses the indignation of the old lady:

‘She fuff't her pipe wi' sic a lunt,
In wrath she was sae vap'rin',
She notic't na, an aizle brunt
Her braw new worset apron
Out through that night.

"Ye little skelpie limmer's face!
I daur you try sic sportin',
As seek the foul thief ony place,
For him to spae your fortune:
Nae doubt but ye may get a sight!
Great cause ye hae to fear it;
For mony a ane has gotten a fright,
And lived and died deleeret,
On sic a night."
Granny's warning was by no means a needless one, as several well authenticated instances are related of persons who, either from the effects of their own imagination, or some thoughtless practical joke, sustained such severe nervous shocks, while essaying these Halloween spells, as seriously to imperil their health.

Another of these, what may perhaps be termed unhallowed, rites of All Hallows' Eve, is to wet a shirt sleeve, hang it up to the fire to dry, and lie in bed watching it till midnight, when the apparition of the individual's future partner for life will come in and turn the sleeve. Bums thus alludes to the practice in one of his songs:

‘The last Halloween I was waukin',
My droukit sark sleeve, as ye ken;
His likeness cam' up the house staukin',
And the very gray breeks o' Tam Glen!'

Other rites for the invocation of spirits might be referred to, such as the sowing of hemp seed, and the winnowing of three wechts of nothing, i. e., repeating three times the action of exposing corn to the wind. In all of these the effect sought to be produced is the same the appearance of the future husband or wife of the experimenter. A full description of them will be found in the poem of Burns, from which we have already so largely quoted. It may here be remarked, that popular belief ascribes to children born on Halloween, the possession of certain mysterious faculties, such as that of perceiving and holding converse with supernatural beings. Sir Walter Scott, it will be recollected, makes use of this circumstance in his romance of The Monastery.

In conclusion, we shall introduce an interesting story, with which we have been favoured by a lady. The leading incidents of the narrative may be relied on as correct, and the whole affair forms matter of curious thought on the subject of Halloween divination:
Mr. and Mrs. M were a happy young couple, who, in the middle of the last century, resided on their own estate in a pleasant part of the province of Leinster, in Ireland. Enjoying a handsome competence, they spent their time in various rural occupations; and the birth of a little girl promised to crown their felicity, and provide them with an object of perpetual interest. On the Halloween following this last event, the parents retired to rest at their usual hour, Mrs. M having her infant on her arm, so that she might be roused by the slightest uneasiness it might exhibit. From teething or some other ailment, the child, about midnight, became very restless, and not receiving the accustomed attention from its mother, cried so violently as to waken Mr. M. He at once called his wife, and told her the baby was uneasy, but received no answer. 

He called again more loudly, but still to no purpose; she seemed to be in a heavy uneasy slumber, and when all her husband's attempts to rouse her by calling and shaking proved ineffectual, he was obliged to take the child himself, and try to appease its wailings. After many vain attempts of this sort on his part, the little creature at last sobbed itself to rest, and the mother slept on till a much later hour than her usual time of rising in the morning. When Mr. M saw that she was awake, he told her of the restlessness of the baby during the night, and how, after having tried in vain every means to rouse her, he had at last been obliged to make an awkward attempt to take her place, and lost thereby some hours of his night's rest. 

'I, too,' she replied, 'have passed the most miserable night that I ever experienced; I now see that sleep and rest are two different things, for I never felt so unrefreshed in my life. How I wish you had been able to awake me it would have spared me some of my fatigue and anxiety! I thought I was dragged against my will into a strange part of the country, where I had never been before, and, after what appeared to me a long and weary journey on foot, I arrived at a comfortable looking house. 

I went in longing to rest, but had no power to sit down, although there was a nice supper laid out before a good fire, and every appearance of preparations for an expected visitor. Exhausted as I felt, I was only allowed to stand for a minute or two, and then hurried away by the same road back again; but now it is over, and after all it was only a dream.'
Her husband listened with interest to her story, and then sighing deeply, said: 'My dear Sarah, you will not long have me beside you; whoever is to be your second husband played last night some evil trick of which you have been the victim.' 

Shocked as she felt at this announcement, she endeavoured to suppress her own feelings and rally her husband's spirits, hoping that it would pass from his mind as soon as he had become engrossed by the active business of the day.

Some months passed tranquilly away after this occurrence, and the dream on Halloween night had well nigh been forgotten by both husband and wife, when Mr. M's health began to fail. He had never been a robust man, and he now declined so rapidly, that in a short time, notwithstanding all the remedies and attentions that skill could suggest, or affection bestow, his wife was left a mourning widow. Her energetic mind and active habits, however, prevented her from abandoning herself to the desolation of grief. She continued, as her husband had done during his life, to farm the estate, and in this employment, and the education of her little girl, she found ample and salutary occupation. Alike admired and beloved for the judicious management of her worldly affairs, and her true Christian benevolence and kindliness of heart, she might easily, had she been so inclined, have established herself respectably for a second time in life, but such a thought seemed never to cross her mind. 

She had an uncle, a wise, kind old man, who, living at a distance, often paid a visit to the widow, looked over her farm, and gave her useful advice and assistance. This old gentleman had a neighbour named C, a prudent young man, who stood very high in his favour. Whenever they met, Mrs. M's uncle was in the habit of rallying him on the subject of matrimony. On one occasion of this kind, C excused himself by saying that it really was not his fault that he was still a bachelor, as he was anxious to settle in life, but had never met with any woman whom he should like to call his wife. 'Well, C,' replied his old friend, 'you are, I am afraid, a saucy fellow, but if you put yourself into my hands, I do not despair of suiting you.' 

Some bantering then ensued, and the colloquy terminated by Mrs. M's uncle inviting the young man to ride over with him next day and visit his niece, whom C had never yet seen. The proffer was readily accepted; the two friends started early on the following morning, and after a pleasant ride, were approaching their destination. Here they descried, at a little distance, Mrs. M retreating towards her house, after making her usual matutinal inspection of her farm. The first glance which Mr. C obtained of her made him start violently, and the more he looked his agitation increased. Then laying his hand on the arm of his friend, and pointing his finger in the direction of Mrs. M, he said: 'Mr., we need not go any further, for if ever I am to be married, there is my wife!'

Well, C, was the reply, that is my niece, to whom I am about to introduce you; but tell me, he added, is this what you call love at first sight, or what do you mean by your sudden decision in favour of a person with whom you have never exchanged a word? Why, sir, replied the young man, I find I have betrayed myself, and must now make my confession. A year or two ago, I tried a Halloween spell, and sat up all night to watch the result. I declare to you most solemnly, that the figure of that lady, as I now see her, entered my room and looked at me. She stood a minute or two by the fire and then disappeared as suddenly as she came. I was wide awake, and felt considerable remorse at having thus ventured to tamper with the powers of the unseen world; but I assure you, that every particular of her features, dress, and figure, have been so present to my mind ever since, that I could not possibly make a mistake, and the moment I saw your niece, I was convinced that she was indeed the woman whose image I beheld on that never to be forgotten Halloween.

The old gentleman, as may be anticipated, was not a little astonished at his friend's statement, but all comments on it were for the time put a stop to by their arrival at Mrs. M's house. She was glad to see her uncle, and made his friend welcome, performing the duties of hospitality with a simplicity and heartiness that were very attractive to her stranger guest. After her visitors had refreshed themselves, her uncle walked out with her to look over the farm, and took opportunity, in the absence of Mr. C, to recommend him to the favourable consideration of his niece. To make a long story short, the impression was mutually agreeable. Mr. C, before leaving the house, obtained permission from Mrs. M to visit her, and after a brief courtship, they were married. They lived long and happily together, and it was from their daughter that our informant derived that remarkable episode in the history of her parents which we have above narrated.

Monday, 12 October 2015

Rough Music: The Customs and Traditions of the Sherborne Pack Monday Fair

Rough Music - Teddy Rowe's Band
The Pack Monday Fair after Old Michaelmas Day, 10th October in Sherborne.  This was usually heralded with the arrival of the Teddy Rowe's Band. comprising of a group of young people who paraded the streets making as much discordant noise as possible on horns, bugles, whistles, tin trays, saucepans.  The origin for this noisy custom is explained that Teddy Rowe was the master mason employed in the 15th century to build the great fan vault in the nave of the Abbey Church. When the work was completed, the workmen packed their tools and paraded in triumph around the town, hence why the fair is called ‘Pack Monday’

Teddy Rowe's Band was suppressed in the 1960s because of the potential for anti-social behaviour. The heralding of a fair with a discordant parade is not unique, and such a noisy gathering is also a core feature of rough music traditions (see also Skimmington Ride).

Dorset Folklorist, John Symonds Udal mentioned about the traditions of the  Pack Monday Fair in his book 'Dorsetshire Folklore' published in 1922:
Hutchins (iv.209), speaking of the annual fairs held in the town of Sherborne:

"The first on St. Thomas a Becket's Day, O.S., upon the green near the site of St. Thomas a Becket's chapel; the second in St. Swithin's Street on St. Swithin's day, O.S ; the third, outside the Abbey Close, on the first Monday after the feast of St. Michael, O.S. This last is the most considerable, and is a great holiday for the inhabitants of the town and neighbourhood. It is ushered in by the ringing of the great bell at 4 a.m., and by the boys and young men perambulating the streets with cows' horns at a still earlier hour, to the no small annoyance of their less wakeful neighbours. It has been an immemorial custom in Sherborne for the boys to blow horns in the evenings, in the streets, for some weeks before the fair. It is commonly known as Pack Monday Fair, and there is a tradition that Abbot Peter Ramsam and his workmen completed the nave of the abbey and kept a holiday on that day in 1490, and that the name was derived from the men packing up their tools. These fairs are chiefly for cattle, horses, and sheep. At the last woollen cloths and all sorts of commodities are sold. The tolls of St. Swithin's belong to the Vicar ; those of the others to the lord of the Manor"

In September, 1826, a resident in Sherborne sent to Hone's Every-Day Book (ii, 654) the following very full description of what goes on at Pack Monday Fair. He says :
"This fair is usually held on the first Monday after the 10th of October, and is a mart for the sale of horses, cows, fat and lean oxen, sheep, lambs, and pigs, cloth, earthenware, onions, wall and hazel nuts, apples, fruit trees, and the usual nick nacks for children, toys, ginger-bread, sweetmeats, sugar plums etc. etc. with drapery, hats, bonnets, caps, ribands, etc. for the country belles, of whom, when the weather is favourable, a great number is drawn together from the neighbouring villages. Tradition relates that this fair originated at the termination of the building of the church, when the people who had been employed about it packed up their tools, and held a fair or wake in the churchyard, blowing cows' horns in their rejoicing, which at that time was perhaps the most common music in use. ..

The fair has been removed from the churchyard about six or seven years, and is now held on a spacious parade in a street not far from the church. . .

To the present time Pack Monday fair is annually announced three or four weeks previous by all the little urchins who can procure and blow a cow's horn parading the streets in the evenings, and sending forth the different tones of their horny bugles, sometimes beating an old sauce-pan for a drum, to render the sweet sound more delicious, and not infrequently a whistle-pipe or a fife is added to the band.

The clock's striking twelve on the Sunday night previous is the summons for ushering in the fair, when the boys assemble with their horns and parade the town with a noisy shout, and prepare to forage for fuel to light a bonfire, generally of straw obtained from some of the neighbouring farmyards, which are sure to be plundered, without respect to the owners, if they have not been fortunate enough to secure the material in some safe part of their premises.

In this way the youths enjoy themselves in boisterous triumph, to the annoyance of the sleeping part of the inhabitants, many of whom deplore, whilst others, who entertain respect for old customs, delight in the deafening mirth. At four o'clock the great bell is rang for a quarter of an hour. From this time the bustle commences by the preparation for the coming scene : stalls erecting, windows cleaning and decorating, shepherds and drovers going forth for their flocks and herds, which are depastured for the night in the neighbouring fields, and every individual seems on the alert. The business in the sheep and cattle fairs (which are held in different fields, nearly in the centre of the town, and well attended by the gentlemen farmers of Dorset, Somerset and Devon) takes precedence, and is generally concluded by twelve o'clock, when what is called the in-fair begins to wear the appearance of business-like activity, and from this time till three or four o'clock more business is transacted in the shop, counting-house, parlour, hall and kitchen than at any other time of the day, it being a custom of the tradespeople to have their yearly accounts settled about this time, and scarcely a draper, grocer, hatter, ironmonger, bookseller, or other respectable tradesman but is provided with an ample store of beef and home-brewed October, for the welcome of their numerous customers, few of whom depart without taking quantum suff: of the old English fare placed before them."

"Now," Hone's correspondent goes on to say,—" is the town alive." And he tells us of the usual merry sights of a country fair—the giant, the learned pig, the giantess and dwarf, the conjuror, the managerie of wild beasts, the merry-go-round, the lucky bag, the Sheffield hardwareman with his wonderful display of cheap cutlery, the inevitable Cheap Jack offering everything for next-to-nothing—for fuller details of which I would refer my readers to his account. And he concludes with the following remarks :—

"This is Pack Monday fair, till evening throws on her dark veil, when the visitors, in taking their farewell, stroll through the rows of ginger-bread stalls ... By this time the country folks are for jogging home, and vehicles and horses of every description on the move, and the bustle nearly over, with the exception of what is to be met with at the inns, where the lads and lasses so disposed, on the light fantastic toe, assisted by the merry scraping of the fiddle, finish the fun, frolic, and pastime of Pack Monday fair."

Some sixty years later Mr. E. Archdall Ffooks - the present clerk of the peace for the county of Dorset, and then a resident in the neighbourhood of Sherborne — at my request for information as to the modern proportions of the fair, wrote me a letter in which he says :
"The old custom of horn blowing has now,through the aid of the police, been reduced to reasonable limits. A few years ago small boys blew horns at all hours of the day and night until their bed-time for more than a month before Pack Monday Fair. Then the inhabitants complained of the nuisance, and the police were instructed to prevent it and to take away the horns, with the result that now only a few occasional horns are heard for about a week beforehand. On Sunday evening about 10 p.m. on October 12th (1884) a few horns in different parts, calling together those who were to take part in the march round, were heard ; and these gradually increased in number and became mingled with an occasional tin tray etc. until 12 o'clock, when the whole body of about 300 assembled at the Antelope Hotel moved off in no particular order and marched once all over the town, starting down Cheap Street and then passing through as many as possible until all the most important had been visited, keeping up an incessant din the whole time with horns, bugles, and all sorts of tin trays etc. that would make a noise. About 2 a.m. the town is allowed to go to sleep.This is what is left of the old custom, and seems likely to last in about its same proportions until something puts an end to Pack Monday Fair itself."
Other sources read: Dark Dorset - Folklore, Customs and Ghost Stories in Sherborne by Elisabeth Bletsoe

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