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November 2019: A West Country Christmas – Dorset in December

Thomas Hardy’s celebration of Christmas in Dorset in his early novel Under the Greenwood Tree is perhaps second only to A Christmas Carol (a version ...More
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Needle and Thread Ceremony, Oxfordshire

Oxford University is of course a place rich in history and custom. One of the odder traditions attaching to the place is the needle and thread ceremony that takes place every New Year’s Day at the ‘gaudy’ or celebration held then at Queen's College. The tradition is that the Bursar gives each college Fellow a red thread and a needle with an injunction to “take this and be thrifty”, supposedly to allow them to mend their academic hoods.
In these days of student loans and ever increasing fees thrift is not a bad path to follow. But the origin of the custom is it seems a joke, or actually a rebus – a visual pun: Queen’s, more formally the Queen’s College , was founded in 1341 by Robert de Eglesfield, chaplain to Queen Philippa. The rebus is that in French needle is ‘aiguille’, thread is ‘fil’. Put them together and you get aiguillefil, an approximation of the founder’s name Eglesfield. My how they must have laughed at that one over the centuries.

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A celebrity is one who is known to many persons he is glad he doesn't know - Lord Byron
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Blackbeard Killed - 1718, Assassination of President Kennedy - 1963, Beatles Release White Album - 1968, Cairngorm Climbing Tragedy - 1971, Margaret Thatcher Resigns - 1990, Rose West Sentenced - 1995, England win Rugby World Cup - 2003
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