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Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 8, 1897.djvu/347

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Some Oxfordshire Seasonal Festivals.

posed to bring good luck to the buyer, who often kept a piece of it throughout the year. Any cakes not sold at the end of the feast were divided among the "Lamb Ale Boys."

The lamb was carried in procession on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, when it—or usually a less valuable lamb, the original being returned to the fold unhurt—was killed, and made into pies. Into one pie, called the "head pie," was put the head with the wool on it. The other pies were then cut up and distributed to all who wanted a piece, but the "head pie" could only be bought for a shilling.

The remaining days of the feast were spent in drinking at the "Bowery," whither the morris-dancers returned every night from visits to neighbouring villages to collect money. At the end of each day, the money collected was given to the head morris-dancer, who was responsible for the safe keeping of the apparatus used. The "maces" and "treasury" were last held by Thomas Hawkes of Kirtlington, now dead, and from his brother, John Hawkes, they were bought for me in June, 1894. The account of the feast is from R. Pearman, of Kirtlington, and his wife.

For comparison with this body of customs, I quote the following passage from T. Blount's Ancient Tenures, ed. 1679, p. 149:—

"At Kidlington in Oxfordshire[1] the Custom is, That on Monday after Whitson week, there is a fat live Lamb provided, and the Maids of the Town having their thumbs ty'd behind them, run after it, and she that with her mouth takes and holds the Lamb, is declared Lady of the Lamb, which, being dress'd with the skin hanging on, is carried on a long Pole before the Lady and her Companions to the Green, attended with Music and a Morisco Dance of Men, and another of Women, where the rest of the day is spent in dancing, mirth and merry glee. The next day the Lamb is part bak'd, boyl'd, and rost, for the Ladies feast, where she sits majestically at the upper end of the Table, and her Companions with her with music and other attendants, which ends the solemnity."


  1. Kidlington is about three miles west from Kirtlington.