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”

Playing Card Festival at Willoughby Waterless

Playing cards have played an important role in people’s lives for centuries. The Playing Card Festival has been held annually since 1682 to celebrate all the non-gambling uses that playing cards can be used for. It all began when the wife of local gambler Ralph Meadows decided that she would remove all gambling temptation fromContinue reading “Playing Card Festival at Willoughby Waterless”

Cheese Carving

An extract from the book 40 Humourous British Traditions Wensleydale is a crumbly white cheese from North Yorkshire. This cheese is difficult to cut without pieces falling onto the ground, which might explain why the cheese cutters of this part of the world are regarded as the finest around. The carvers in the valley heldContinue reading “Cheese Carving”

Biscuit Rolling

An extract from the book 40 Humourous British Traditions In the UK there are many contests involving the humble biscuit, ranging from building competitions to throwing events. However, in Barnsley the biscuits are just rolled for fun, so that in the words of the original organizer Rufus Moxon, “the biscuit is conserved in its entiretyContinue reading “Biscuit Rolling”

Playing Cards Festival

An extract from the book 40 Humourous British Traditions Playing cards have played an important role in people’s lives for centuries. The Playing Card Festival has been held annually since 1682 to celebrate all the non-gambling uses that playing cards can be used for. It all began when the wife of local gambler Ralph MeadowsContinue reading “Playing Cards Festival”

Christmas Tree Topiary

An extract from the book 40 Humourous British Traditions At the end of the Christmas holidays in the dark days of winter everyone needs to let off a little steam. This may explain why the Christmas Tree Topiary contest in Northallerton is so popular with people eager to reshape their Christmas trees after spending manyContinue reading “Christmas Tree Topiary”

Armour Making

An extract from the book 40 Humourous British Traditions The tradition of making armour for battle goes back thousands of years. Strapping leather together to make a strong material resistant to bronze sword blows was probably the first type of armour ever created. Leather was replaced by chain mail and then this was superseded byContinue reading “Armour Making”