Britain has many well documented, yet strange traditions such as Bog Snorkelling, Bonfire Night, Cheese Rolling and Haxey Hood. This book describes 40 more traditions in a similar vein, all of which are less well known.
Read about Turtle Rinsing in London, Arrow Catching in Staffordshire, and Animal Gambling in the Forest of Dean.
All the stories are distinct and can be read independently; this is a book for the busy individual who has a spare five or ten minutes to discover the secrets of Biscuit Rolling.
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
The Royal Turtle Surveyor has to be notified if a turtle reaches the
Pool of London so that the ceremony of Turtle Rinsing can occur. This
old procedure involves the Royal Turtle Surveyor, The Royal Turtle
Deputy-Surveyor, the Royal Net Bearer, The Royal Water Bagpiper, and the
Master of the Hose. From the Tower of London, these five officials
proceed towards the turtle in a launch bearing The Royal Standard.
Once the turtle is observed by The Royal Turtle Deputy-Surveyor using a
spyglass, the Royal Net Bearer apprehends the creature in a special
Turtle net that’s over two hundred years old. Once clear of the water,
the turtle in the net is raised to shoulder height. Using a 500-year old
hose made from Staffordshire Boar hide, the Master of the Hose sprays
the creature for “one round of ye reel,” which is danced by the
Royal Turtle Surveyor and The Royal Turtle Deputy-Surveyor. The Royal
Water Bagpiper accompanies the dance.
Once the reel is complete, the rinsed turtle is returned to the water.
In the past, the turtle was observed swimming vigorously for the open
sea; however in recent years they have mainly hung around HMS Belfast
waiting for tourists to drop food to them.
Historians believe that the Turtle Rinsing was created because of
Matilda’s desire to keep her supporters happy by giving them jobs in
the Royal Household that were purely ceremonial in nature. Other such
jobs include The Royal Wasp Counter in the Hunting Forests, The Royal
Cloud Shape Describer, and the Royal Maker of Cubes from Honey.
Excerpted from "40 Humourous British Traditions" by Julian Worker. Copyright © 2013 by Julian Worker. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
I have written ten books so far. Four relate to travel, two are murders/mysteries, three are creative fiction, and one pays tribute to my pet cat Freddie.
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