St. Ann's Well, Nottingham (SK5741), Nottinghamshire
Llewellynn Jewitt (Auth.)
ON ANCIENT CUSTOMS AND SPORTS OF THE COUNTY OF NOTTINGHAM
*Journal of the British Archaeological Association,
1853, Vol.8, pp.229-240
A rambling general summary of customs in Notts. It followed two similar
papers concerning Cheshire and Derbyshire, and a certain amount of
extrapolation from these counties is evident.
Among the customs covered are; drawing lots for Valentines near Mansfield, the
blessing of St. Ann's Well, Nottingham on Easter Monday and of another well at
Newark, a May-pole at Hucknall Folkard [presumably meant to be Hucknall
Torkard], divination on All Hallows at Lenton, the perambulation of crib called a
Wassail Cup at Christmas, and Groaning Cakes & Cheeses - a birth custom.
He quotes Deering's description of the Midsummer's Eve watch at Nottingham.
The description of Christmas says "... the mummers, or guisors, pass from house
to house, and still perform their play of St. George..."
Also; "On Plough Monday, as well as during the Christmas holidays, the plough
bullocks are still to be seen in various parts of the country. This extremely
picturesque and popular custom, - with its plough, drawn by farmer's men, gaily
dressed in ribbands, its drivers, with their long wands and bladders, its
sword-dancers, its fool and its celebrated Bessy, and hobby-horse, - I have
described in my Derbyshire paper; it will therefore be sufficient to say, that
amongst other places the neighbourhoods of Newstead, Mansfield, and Southwell,
are still famous for its observance, and that it has been well described by
Washington Irving in his Newstead Abbey."
William Page (Auth.)
THE VICTORIA HISTORY OF THE COUNTY OF NOTTINGHAM
London: Constable and Company Limited, 1910, Vol.2, pp.410-413
The chapter on "Old-Time Sports" gives details of a number of Notts., customs
taken from published accounts. These include; Bull-baiting, Bear-baiting,
Badger-baiting, and Cock-fighting, throwing at the cock and thrashing the fat
hen at Shrovetide, May-poles and May-day customs, Oak and Nettle Day, the
Eakring Ball-play on Easter Tuesday, Midsummer's Eve bonfires, wrestling and the
St. Ann's Well Shepherd's Race or maze.
The description of Plough Monday or Plough Bullock Day covers plough trailing
and malicious ploughing. A fragment is given from a play from South Notts,
with the characters; bold Anthony, St. George, Selina and a doctor. Washington
Irving's (1835) account of a Plough Monday and Morris Dancers at Newstead Abbey
is also quoted.
"Old Robin Hood" (1918)
"Old Robin Hood" (Auth.)
LOCAL NOTES AND QUERIES: No. 237: Plough Monday [St. Ann's Well Road, Nottingham]
"This is the first Monday after Twelfth Day by the country almanack. In all
agricultural districts the labourers used to drag the plough about and plough up
your "doorstep" if you did not give them money. I remember 'plough bullocks,'
or lads with blackened faces, marching about St. Ann's Well road and singing
doggerel for money on Plough Monday. They had no plough, although there were
plenty of green fields about in those days.
But I expect it would be a great day in the country in old times. Did the
farmers all plough together on that day, or was it the opening of the ploughing
season? I have some recollection that in Yorkshire there was a general plough
The editor then goes on to quote extensively from W.Hone's (1837) description of
the Yorks., custom of ploughing for a new tenant.
* indicates data that not yet been validated against the original source and/or has yet to be completely indexed.