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”

Mongol Vegetable Cutting – Kazan, Russia

This is an excerpt from the book Sports the Olympics Forgot The first contest in 1263 was held amongst the citizens of Kazan. In turn, each contestant had to ride up to the table on their own horse and slice ten beetroot and ten potatoes in half making sure that their steed was always moving inContinue reading “Mongol Vegetable Cutting – Kazan, Russia”

St Andrews Seed Sessions

An extract from the book 40 Humourous British Traditions Most people think nothing of mundane activities such as spitting out a seed, flicking a discarded pip from a trouser leg, or squeezing a cherry stone between your fingers until it scoots into the distance. However in St Andrews in Fife these activities are celebrated inContinue reading “St Andrews Seed Sessions”

Catching Acorns and Conkers

An extract from the book 40 Humourous British Traditions Autumn is the time when items fall from trees with great regularity. Acorns and conkers can be caught in great numbers. In Ludlow in the first week of October there’s a festival that tests contestants’ catching stamina to the full. This is the Ludlow Catching AcornsContinue reading “Catching Acorns and Conkers”

Sunrakers Festival

An extract from the book 40 Humourous British Traditions People from Wiltshire are known as Moonrakers. They used to keep their illicit alcohol in barrels and hide it underwater. They’d be seen by excise officers at night raking the barrels out of the water – when challenged they’d act stupid and say they were tryingContinue reading “Sunrakers Festival”

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”

Kite Racing

An extract from the book 40 Humourous British Traditions Kites have been popular in Suffolk since their introduction into England in the 19th Century. In 1873, Oliver Holmes was flying his kite near Aldeburgh when the wind started to blow really hard – Oliver had difficulty holding on to his kite and thought that runningContinue reading “Kite Racing”