Rushbearing Festival

Rushbearing Festival

Saturday nearest August 5
The custom of rushbearing in England dates back more than 1,000 years, perhaps to an ancient Roman harvest festival. Young girls would cover the floor of the parish church with rushes and fasten elaborate flower garlands to the walls. After the invention of floor coverings eliminated the need for rushes, the original ceremony gradually evolved into a flower festival, similar to May Day celebrations, with sports, folk dancing, and floral processions.
Modern-day rushbearing ceremonies still take place in Great Musgrave, Ambleside, Grasmere, and Warcop in Westmorland, although Grasmere claims to be the only community where the rushbearing tradition has remained unbroken since ancient times. The poet William Wordsworth was largely responsible for keeping the custom alive there during the early 19th century. He and his sister, Dorothy, lived at Dove Cottage in Grasmere from 1799 until 1808.
Most rushbearing festivals begin with a procession of children carrying flower garlands and wood-framed bearings with rushes woven into traditional designs and ecclesiastical emblems. When they reach the parish church, they scatter rushes over the floor and arrange the garlands and bearings around the altar and against the church walls. There is a religious service, after which the entire village participates in sports, Maypole dancing, and other festivities. Most rushbearing events take place in July and August, often on the Saturday nearest St. Anne's Day (July 26) or St. Oswald's Day (August 5).
CONTACTS:
Grasmere Tourist Information Centre
Red Bank Rd.
Grasmere, Cumbria LA22 9SW United Kingdom
44-15-3943-5245; fax: 44-15-3943-5057
SOURCES:
FolkCal-1930, p. 164
OxYear-1999, p. 301
YrbookEngFest-1954, pp. 95, 101, 108
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References in periodicals archive ?
A MORRIS dancing troupe entertained crowds at Littleborough's Rushbearing Festival.
Marsden's Thieving Magpie morris dancers perform at Littleborough's Rushbearing Festival
Excitement is building for Wakes week; a rest from field and mill and a celebration of the Rushbearing Festival with singing, courting, drinking and dancing.
Pages 6-7 MARSDEN morris dancing troupe Thieving Magpie entertained crowds at Littleborough's Rushbearing Festival.
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THE traditional Rushbearing Festival is returning to Calderdale.
Casting around for a suitable setting, Deborah alighted upon the typical rushbearing festivals that dotted places like Saddleworth Moors, and also looked at villages like Helmshaw, above Ramsbottom, for inspiration.