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Sunday, 23 November 2014

Long history of rush celebration

CENTURIES ago when most churches had a bare earth floor, a ceremony would be held each year when a new crop of rushes was cut to provide a fresh natural carpet.

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VILLAGE TRADITION: Grasmere Rushbearing in 1893 SUBMITTED

These “rushbearing” events vanished over the years, except in Urswick and Grasmere.

St Oswald’s Church in Grasmere has a small display on its ceremony which dates back at least 400 years.

It notes: “In earlier years, before the church had a floor of wood and stone, the earthen floor was carpeted with fresh rushes each year.

“Even when the present floor was put down in 1840, the practice of laying fresh rushes continued.”

Rushbearing was also a “boon day” or holiday for the village.

Before the 16th century Reformation of the national church by Henry VIII, ale would be prepared for the village – under close inspection from the church wardens.

The ceremony starts with a parade, is followed by a church service and ends at the school field for sports and a helping of Grasmere gingerbread.

The ceremony was on July 20 for many years and is now the last weekend of the school year. It will be on July 13 from 3.30pm next year.

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