British Traditions – Dyke Leaping

This is an extract from my book 40 Humourous British Traditions

The only fatality was in 1671 when Henry de Belancourt starved to death at the King’s Lynn sea-dyke leaping. He was determined to win and so decided to vault across using a small willow tree. In the final round a successful leap would have won him the first prize of six acorns, but he got stuck halfway. Unfortunately the tide came in and because the rules forbid any outside interference Henry decided to wait – however the tide came in for two weeks and by the tenth day Henry was delusional and believed himself to be St Simeon Stylites. He eventually passed out and was draped over the tree when rescued. Attempts were made to revive him, which failed. His last recorded words were “Acorns, acorns, where are my acorns?” Since 1671, in Henry’s honour, the Squirrel Cup has been awarded to the winner of the King’s Lynn sea-dyke leaping contest.

Published by Julian Worker

Julian was born in Leicester, attended school in Yorkshire, and university in Liverpool. He has been to 94 countries and territories and intends to make the 100 when travel is easier. He writes travel books, murder / mysteries and absurd fiction. His sense of humour is distilled from The Marx Brothers, Monty Python, Fawlty Towers, and Midsomer Murders. His latest book is about a Buddhist cat who tries to help his squirrel friend fly further from a children's slide.

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