by Ronald Hutton, My Review;
Charting the progress from the communal year and it's festivals both sacred and secular towards a more centralised control and ensuing decline of festival times, holy days, rituals and revels.The Protestant Reformation and its austere Puritanism is clearly the largest single cause which drew to a close earlier 'Papist' traditions of the Catholic imbued culture that had supported spiritual ritual and secular pagentry for hundreds of years.
Lammas Festival - John Barleycorn
To set the context, the English Reformation under Henry VIII had broken the Church of England from the authority of the Pope and Roman Catholic Church. From 1553, under the reign of Henry's Roman Catholic daughter, Mary I, Henry's Reformation legislation was repealed and Mary sought to achieve the reunion with Rome. Following Mary's childless death, her half-sister Elizabeth inherited the throne. As Elizabeth could not be Catholic, that church considered her illegitimate, communion with the Catholic Church was again severed by Elizabeth.
Elizabeth's reign saw the emergence of Puritanism, which encompassed those Protestants who felt that the church had been but insuficciently reformed. Puritanism ranged from hostility to the content of the Prayer Book and "popish" ceremony, to a desire for church governance and inded for society at large to be radically reformed.
In this politically charged and religiously swaying environment, alternately pushing an oppresive new religious austerity or inclusively reinstalling the traditional milieu of sacred and secular traditions of British life, the festive, communal culture and its traditions waned and dwindled. Each fresh onslaught of punitive policy and legal measures gradually depleted the social enthusiasm which had bound the culture together in earlier times.
Charles Landseer - Cromwell Battle of Naseby
Among the church rituals and communal activities considered innapropriate by the changing authorities, was the ornamentation of churches with garlands at festival times such as holy and ivy at christmas, the lighting of candles below icons, boy bishops and their processions, church ales which collected money for the church rituals, rogation or blessing of fields at spring, appointment of lords of misrule to preside over festivities, morris dancers, musicians and dancing at may poles.
The pulpit, with pew-end candle stands wound with holly and ivy.
The Ancient Custom of Blessing the Fields on Rogation Sunday at Hever, Kent
CHIPPING CAMDEN MORRIS MEN - 1896
The earlier potent mixture of rituals and revels, pagentry, music and costumes, wholesome earthy fun and good humour which had been accepted as such by the long interwoven traditions of populace with Catholic church, was uprooted and destroyed by the ardent and extreemly keen Protestants to such an extent that various of the ensuing Crowns sought to ammeliorate on behalf of the people and their traditions but with little success.
The jester-like fellow leading the celebrants is the Lord of Misrule.
The first commercially viable steam engines were designed by the Scottish inventor James Watt and manufactured at the Soho Foundry near Birmingham in the late 18th century
Highly recommended reading for any who are interested in the cultural connections between the 'old religion' (which actually meant the all embracing 'magical Catholicism' of early medieval England - and amongst these traditions were many pre Christian survivors ) and the Protestant modified puritanical exegesis and transformation of a formerly Merry England into a more dour, serious, self effacing, God fearing nation, under the varying vagaries of the Parlaiment and it's often relentless officers.
Chester Midsummer Watch Parade co Mark Carline
The Burry Man, Queensferry co Simon Costin
Oak Apple Day!
A modern, neo-pagan celebration in Hampshire.