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Dartmoor Traditions

Easter Light

Easter2

“Walkhampton Church – Earlier this century , during restoration work to the porch, a stove and flue was found. This stove was most likely used for kindling the Easter Light on Holy Saturday. Sadly it has now been blocked up again.” Hamilton-Leggett, p.2. One source suggests that church porch fireplaces were …

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Hunting the Stag

Drewsteignton1

“A stag and a hare hunt are the rude means employed by a village community for maintaining either its standards of morals or expressing its disapprobation of petticoat rule… The Stag Hunt takes place on the wedding-night of a man who has married a girl of light character or when …

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Postbridge Charmers

Charmers1

I was reading an article published by the famous Dartmoor folklorist Theo Brown some 47 years ago which I think typifies the beliefs and resources available to moor folk in days long gone by. It concerns medical treatment for both humans and animals administered by so-called ‘White’ or ‘Hedge Witches’ …

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Franklin Nights

Franklin 2

At one time, not too long in the past cider was as common a beverage as Typhoo tea is today upon Dartmoor. Not only was it a popular drink in the pubs and inns but many farms had their cider orchards whose apples would make the families yearly supply. During …

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Wheel Rolling

Wheel Rolling

“This wheels on fire, rolling down the road Best notify my next of kin This wheel shall explode.” Bob Dylan & The Band – 1967 There is a fourth century record of pagans in Aquitaine celebrating the coming of Midsummer by rolling a flaming wheel downhill into a river. Some …

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Wife Sales

Wife Sales

Before proceeding I would like to point out that what follows is not sexist, male chauvinism or misogynistic, it’s simply historical fact. Now as a rule a moorman has an eye for a good beast and an even better one for a profit, it’s an ability that comes with living …

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Widdecombe Fair

Widdecombe Fair

Tom Pearce. Tom Pearce, lend me your grey mare, All along, down along, out along lee, For I want for to go to Widdecombe Fair, Wi’ Bill Brewer, Jan Stewer, Peter Gurney, Peter Davy, Dan’l Whiddon, Harry Hawk, old uncle Tom Cobley and all, old Uncle Tom Cobley and all. …

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Wassailing

Wassailing

By no means is ‘wassailing’ an exclusive Dartmoor custom, it can be found all across Devon and indeed the other cider making counties. The tradition is said to have originally been an ancient pagan fertility rite. The word ‘wassail’ comes from the Anglo Saxon words ‘waes hal‘ which meant be …

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Valentine’s day

Valentine's day

Valentine’s Day, February 14th, what man dare forget that date? Many would like to, but the marketing vultures have successfully made it compulsory to buy the obligatory card and/or bunch of flowers. But there was a time when things were a lot simpler and dare I suggest a lot more …

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Thirty Penny Ring

Thirty Penny Ring

In 1855 a Walter White took a topographical tour which took him on a walk to Land’s End which took him across parts of Dartmoor. In his book – A Londoner’s Walk to Land’s End he describes many of the people he meets and some of their traditions. He certainly …

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