Duck Quacking Festival in Cirencester – 1

Excerpt from the book 40 Humourous British Traditions. Is British humour your cup of tea? Britain has many well documented, yet strange traditions. This book describes 40 more traditions in a similar vein, all of which are less well known. Get ready for interesting characters, thought-provoking ideas, and strange events – all of which are fiction!

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When hunting a duck it’s a real advantage to be able to sound like a duck rather than a human being carrying a gun. This advantage will allow you to get closer to the bird before giving it both barrels with your shotgun.

This was the rationale behind the duck imitators of Cirencester, who held contests in the 14th and 15th centuries to select who the best duck impersonator. As time progressed the impersonations became more important than the shooting as personal pride became involved at the expense of blood lust.

Eventually, interest in imitating other animals began to grow; not only ducks could be heard in the pub but also cows, horses, cats, and badgers. This was disconcerting to the other customers and also convinced the local squire Rupert de Courtney the people of Cirencester had an unparalleled gift for duck imitation that wasn’t being channelled in the right direction. In 1726 he decided to hold a contest, open to all, to decide who could best imitate a duck.

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