Monday, 25 May 2015

Ale for sale Fundraising and Whitsun 2015

St Andrew's Church Farnham England.
Farnham was once famous for its hops
Even on a Bank Holiday Selling goes on, and ever has. 

This month we have had two, May Day and Spring Bank holiday.

Bells peeling on Whit Sunday - Pentecost 2015

The old name for the late Spring bank holiday was Whitsun and to some of Us still is.
The origin of Whit of Whitsun festival may refer to the wearing of white robes in Church over this festival period of Pentecost  but I like an alternative suggestion from one John Mirk (c.1382 – 1414) an Augustinian canon, of Lilleshall Abbey, Shropshire.

Goode men and woymen, as ʒe knowen wele all, þys day ys called Whitsonday, for bycause þat þe Holy Gost as þys day broʒt wyt and wysdome ynto all Cristes dyscyples

Mirk thought the root of the word was "wit" ( "wyt" or "wytte") and Pentecost was so-called to signify the outpouring of the wisdom of the Holy Ghost on Christ's disciples.

The first holiday of the summer , Whitsun was one of the favourite  time for a week-long celebration.

This took the form of fêtes, fairs, pageants and parades with Whitsun ales and Morris dancing in the south of England and "Whit walks" and wakes in the north.

The Parish ale was a festival in an English parish at which ale made and donated for the event was the chief drink.

The word "ale" was generally used as part of a compound term.  E.g.

Photo Thanks to Tanya Ritchie:
 Watchet'. Leet Ale taster
and Town Cryer at Whitsun festivities 2015.
 The Town had a wheelbarrow race
  • the leet-ale (held on "leet", the manorial court day)
  • the lamb-ale (held at lamb-shearing)
  • the Whitsun-ale (held at Whitsun)
  • the clerk-ale, the church-ale etc.

Apparently the adjective "bridal" as in a hotel’s bridal suite, or a wedding’s bridal party, originally derives from bride-ale, the wedding feast organised to raise money for the couple. 
Some of today’s cash strapped brides’ parents might wish to re-instate the money raising tradition.

 The bid-ale, once very common throughout England, was a benefit feast to which a general invitation was given, and all those attending were expected to make some contribution to help the object of the benefit, usually a poor person or family or some other charitable cause.

 These parish festivals were of much ecclesiastical and social importance in medieval England.

 The chief purpose of the church-ale (which was originally instituted to honour a church's saint) and the clerk-ale, was to facilitate the collection of parish dues and to make a profit for the church from the sale of ale by the church wardens.

Here are some reports of Whitsun Ales  doing their selling working in England over the last 600 years.

Such profits kept the parish church in repair, or were distributed as alms to the poor.

The churches must owe, as we all do know,
For when they be drooping and ready to fall,
By a Whitsun or Church-ale up again they shall go
And owe their repairing to a pot of good ale

"Exaltation of Ale", by Francis Beaumont
In the gallery of the tower arch of St Agnes, Cawston in Norfolk is inscribed:

God speed the plough
And give us good ale enow ...
Be merry and glade,
With good ale was this work made.

On the beam of a screen in the church of Thorpe-le-Soken, Essex, is the following inscription in raised blackletter on a scroll held by two angels: 
"This cost is the bachelers made by ales thesn be ther med." 
The date is about 1480.

The feast was usually held in a barn near the church or in the churchyard.

 In Tudor times church-ales were held on Sundays; gradually the parish-ales were limited to the Whitsun season, and these still have local survivals.

 The colleges of the universities used to brew their own ales and hold festivals known as college-ales; some of these ales are still brewed and famous, like "chancellor" at Queen's College, and "archdeacon" at Merton College, Oxford, and "audit ale" at Trinity, Cambridge.

A short piece printed in the Manchester Times in 1870 quoted from Jefferson's Book about the Clergy:

Of the Church-ale, often called the Whitsun-ale, from being generally held at Whitsuntide, it is necessary to speak at greater length, for it is a far more important institution than the bid-ale or clerk-ale. 

The ordinary official givers of the church-ale were two wardens who, after collecting subscriptions in money or kind from every one of their fairly well-to-do parishioners, provided a revel that not infrequently passed the wake in costliness and diversity of amusements. 

The board, at which everyone received a welcome who could pay for his entertainment, was loaded with good cheer; and after the feasters had eaten and drunk to contentment, if not to excess, they took part in sport on the turf of the churchyard, or on the sward of the village green. 

The athletes of the parish distinguished themselves in wrestling, boxing, quoit throwing; the children cheered the mummers and the morris dancers; and round a maypole decorated with ribbons, the lads and lasses plied their nimble feet to the music of the fifes, bagpipes, drums and fiddles. 

When they had wearied themselves by exercise, the revellers returned to the replenished board; and not seldom the feast, designed to begin and end in a day, was protracted into a demoralising debauch of a week's or even a month's duration. The Manchester Time

 A poster advertising the Whitsun festivities at Sunbury, Middlesex in 1778 listed the following attractions:

On Whit Monday, in the morning, will be a punting match...The first boat that comes in to receive a guinea...In the afternoon a gold-laced hat, worth 30s. to be cudgell'd for...On Whit Tuesday, in the morning, a fine Holland smock and ribbons, to be run for by girls and young women. And in the afternoon six pairs of buckskin gloves to be wrestled for.

Whit Monday was officially recognised as a bank holiday in the UK in 1871 but lost this status in 1971 when the Spring Bank Holiday was created but selling in the form of fundraising continues to this day

Good Selling Good Fundraising

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