Shooting and Shouting at the Flower of the Well


"Aldborough Parish Church" by Mtaylor848 - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Aldborough_Parish_Church.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Aldborough_Parish_Church.jpg

“Aldborough Parish Church” by Mtaylor848 – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

The Records of Early English Drama North-East project presents its latest Flower of the Month – an intriguing find from the archives of the region. This month’s Flower is about two incidents in the 1590s, in Aldborough, North Yorkshire, when Protestants and Catholics came into conflict over old customs.

In July 1594, one Robert Rodes heard that the vicar of Alborough had to reprove a group from Roecliffe who, following an old tradition, had brought rushes to the church and strewed them there. Rodes immediately hired a gun from an alehouse-keeper in nearby Boroughbridge, went to the church, and, just as the sermon ended, aimed above the vicar’s head and fired!

The following year, a group of nine men attempted to bring water from a sacred spring or holy well (possibly that of St Mungo) to the church, a New Year custom often referred to as the “flower of the well.” Their noisy procession involved a great “pyping, blowyng of an horne, ringyng or strikinge of basons, & showtinge of people.”

The latter incident in particular suggests Protestant opposition to customary practices associated with Catholicism. Professor Ted McGee (University of Waterloo, Ontario) explains more, over at the Records of Early English Drama North East blog.

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