Pinch-Bum Day

Watch out for your bottom if you go out this morning because in Sussex today (29th May) is known as ‘Pinch-bum Day’  although in the rest of the country it is ‘Oak Apple Day’.  During the English Civil War, in 1651 the future King Charles II was pursued by the Roundheads south across England following…

Bumping the Bounds

During May the spring festival of Rogation-tide was celebrated. This word comes from the Latin rogatio which means to ask for or to beg. In spring, seeds were sown and this was the time when God was asked or begged for them to grow. It was during Rogation-tide that the church would sometimes confirm the…

A Sussex May Day

May Day was celebrated by the Romans and the Pagans who knew it as Beltain.  It falls midway between the winter and summer solstices and was a time of change and celebration before the hardships of the agricultural year.  People would feel at one with nature and would be praying for a bountiful harvest ahead. …

Easter in Sussex

Writing in the 8th century, the Venerable Bede tells us that Eostre was the pagan goddess of dawn (hence the word ’east’). Her annual festival of Spring was held in April and known as Easter but by the time of Bede, Christians had replaced this with their own festival, ‘passover’ which celebrates the resurrection of…

Shrovetide in Sussex

Shrove Tuesday (Pancake Day) is the day before Lent commences. ‘Lent is a corruption of the Old English word ‘Lencten’ meaning ‘Spring’ Our ancestors would have shrove (confessed) themselves of sins in the morning. At noon the Shrovetide bell would ring from Sussex churches which would indicate that it was time to stop confessing and start…

Burial at a Cross-roads

I have just been reading about some of the Eastbourne Parish Registers and noted that several people who had committed suicide were buried at St Mary’s Parish Church.  An entry in 1624 records the burial in the churchyard of John Crunden ‘who drowned himself’ and another in 1650 relates to 21-year-old John Herriot who ‘hanged…

A relic miles from home.

Eastbourne has a poor, lost and overlooked refugee.  Hidden behind a noticeboard in the churchyard of St Mary’s Church, Eastbourne is an unusual but brilliantly decorated ‘Cornish Cross’.   The cross was kidnapped from its home and brought to Sussex exactly 200 years ago. The culprit was Davies Giddy who lived at Tredrea, St Erth near…

The butcher who tried to kill a Lamb

The Mayor of Rye in 1743 was James Lamb.   As the Mayor of the ancient Cinque Port he was also responsible for law and order in the town and acted as the Chief Magistrate.    A particular problem for him was a local butcher, John Breads, who could regularly be found drinking at the Flushing Inn.  On one…

How Christmas Dinner was invented in Sussex!

Christmas is a time for celebration and what better way to celebrate than with food!?  We all look forward to a succulent turkey with all the trimmings for lunch, although as a youngster I usually had too much chocolate and sweets throughout the morning to appreciate my mums cooking.   In the past Christmas was a…

How to celebrate St Clement’s Day

Will you be celebrating St Clements Day on 23rd November? Your ancestors did! It is believed that Clement was an early Pope imprisoned by the Roman Emperor Trajan who packed him off to the Crimea to work in a mine.   Undaunted, he miraculously made a spring appear to help his fellow workers. These men…

Remember Remember

Last month I had the honour of introducing the visiting Bonfire Societies to Seaford for the annual Guy Fawkes celebrations.  I love bonfire and probably recite the Bonfire Prayers – “Remember Remember the Fifth of November” more than most people. As a tour guide in the Palace of Westminster – the Houses of Parliament I recite…

The only female Sussex Saint

Last week I visited the Church of St Candida in the isolated Dorset village of Whitchurch Canonicorum.   It is the only parish church in England to contain the relic of a saint.  Saint Wite.  The Latin name for Wite is Candida, hence the name of the church. The shrine of the saint contains three…