Turtle Rinsing in London

It’s a little known fact that every turtle that swims up the River Thames past Tower Bridge into the Pool of London becomes the property and responsibility of the monarch. This rule is part of the Common Law of England and dates back to the time of Queen Matilda in the 12th Century. The RoyalContinue reading “Turtle Rinsing in London”

Skipping around the windmill

The concept of the Village Idiot is a long-held tradition that was refined to its highest degree in rural Somerset in the 1300s. At that time the position of Village Idiot was an official job title and had a salary, though it was paid in acorns. Both men and women could apply for the roleContinue reading “Skipping around the windmill”

Walking the Weasel

According to the Lindisfarne Chronicles, “Walking the Ways All” was an annual tradition in all Anglo-Saxon towns. The third Thursday in July was set aside for the townsfolk to walk along the common pathways and re-establish their right to frequent these paths. According to the English Common Law, if this annual reclamation wasn’t performed theseContinue reading “Walking the Weasel”

Tossing the Cricket Stump in Cockermouth

The annual Tossing the Cricket Stump contest in Cockermouth dates back to 1856 when cricket first came to the town. Three local vicars had visited the Scottish Border Games in Galashiels the previous year and seen the tossing of the caber contest there. Inspired by the athleticism of the Scots – and some beer accordingContinue reading “Tossing the Cricket Stump in Cockermouth”

Seven-Legged Racing

An extract from the book 40 Humourous British Traditions The festival of seven-legged racing takes place around the cathedral in Exeter on the third Thursday after the second full moon after Ash Wednesday. The seven-legged race comprises teams of six people who race around the cathedral close in an anti-clockwise direction. The prize is wonContinue reading “Seven-Legged Racing”

Fingernail Contest

An extract from the book 40 Humourous British Traditions It’s rumoured that the main reason that the Normans invaded England in 1066 was for the truffle-hunting in the New Forest. The locals didn’t need pigs to find truffles as they have always been possessed of fine long fingernails, which can quickly scrabble in the earthContinue reading “Fingernail Contest”

The “She Loves Me, She Loves Me not” Contest

An extract from the book 40 Humourous British Traditions Fans of Lorna Doone believe that Exmoor is a romantic place and so many of them come with a dandelion and play the “she loves me, she loves me not” game – men blow the dandelion and say “she loves me” and then blow it againContinue reading “The “She Loves Me, She Loves Me not” Contest”

Thimble Throwing

An extract from the book 40 Humourous British Traditions In the mills of Lancashire, sewing fabric together with a thread from each new bale of cotton from North America was very important. In this way, the owners could determine how strong the cotton was and so they employed professional sewers for this reason. The sewersContinue reading “Thimble Throwing”

Pea Shooting

An extract from the book 40 Humourous British Traditions In the Middle Ages not everyone could afford a bow and arrow, so some poorer families became proficient with a pea shooter for self-defence. As Arnold de Boycott said in 1562, “appen peas are cheaper than arrows and are easier to returne – some arrows getteContinue reading “Pea Shooting”

Hairy Legs

An extract from the book 40 Humourous British Traditions When people were painting the town red in Melton in the 15th Century some of the locals started to compare various parts of their bodies with those of other people. Eventually, the comparisons turned to the hairiness of the legs and it was noticed that aContinue reading “Hairy Legs”