Join in

Send page to a friend

5915 views since 11th March 2011

Related links:

Events | Lore & Legend | Rather Interesting | Cultural Britain

Featured Destination

December 2018: A West Country Christmas Ė Dorset in December

Thomas Hardyís celebration of Christmas in Dorset in his early novel Under the Greenwood Tree is perhaps second only to A Christmas Carol (a version ...More
More Uk destinations

Old Manís Day, Hertfordshire

Old Manís Day, commemorated in the quiet village of Braughing (pronounced Braffing) in Hertfordshire, is a custom that somewhat unusually celebrates something that - happily - didnít happen.
On October 2 1571 a sad procession was making its way to St Maryís church in the village. Among the mourners was the fiancťe of farmer Matthew Wall, who though still in his prime had been found dead. As the pall-bearers walked along tree-lined Fleece Lane one of them slipped on the leaves that had fallen in early autumn. The coffin slid from his grasp and fell with a jolt to the earth.
When the men took hold of their burden again they were to say the least shocked to hear banging from within the coffin. The fall had woken Matthew from his coma or narcoleptic fit, and he was thumping the lid quite literally for dear life.
Saved from being buried alive, Matthew went on to marry his sweetheart and to live another 24 years. In his will dated 1595 he made provisions to commemorate his remarkable escape.
Matthew left the income from a piece of land in the village to ensure every October 2 the church bells would toll in remembrance, and later that they would ring a wedding peal to recall his marriage. The sexton of the church is enjoined to place brambles on his gravestone to stop sheep from wandering over it. And rather more strangely given the circumstances, Farmer Wall made arrangements to ensure Fleece Lane be swept on October 2 Ė had the lane been clear of detritus on October 2 1571 he would have met a terrible end.
These days it is schoolchildren who sweep the lane on Old Manís Day, for which they are rewarded with sweets, and a song concerned with the miraculous escape is sung in St Maryís. It is to be hoped that youthful imaginations play on the happier aspect of the tale, otherwise...sleep well children.

More British Folk Customs?

If you like this, Share it

Brit Quote:
Soldiers are citizens of death's grey land, drawing no dividend from time's tomorrows - Siegfried Sassoon
More Quotes

On this day:
Flannan Isles Mystery Born - 1900, Retreat from Gallipoli - 1915, Bosman Ruling - 1995
More dates from British history

click here to view all the British counties

County Pages