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BEATING THE PARISH BOUNDS!



Minutes before the off, assembled on the sea wall at Stone Point, Point Clear Bay... Martin on the right in blue anorack and bobble hat!


Today, Rogation Sunday 5th May 2002, the Rev. Martin Flowerdew vicar of our Parish Church of St Peter and St. Paul resurrected the old tradition of walking the bounds of the
Parish. Why you may ask and for what reason?
Martin described it this way. First by circumnavigating our parochial boundaries we can look at our Parish from a variety of new angles and get a real feel for the place we live and
worship in, giving thanks to God for its variety and (in places) beauty. It gives us the chance to stop at various points on the way and pray for people, places and businesses in the Parish. It is also good exercise and will be the chance for people to get to know one another better through the shared experience.



Walking the bounds alongside Brightlingsea Creek leading to St. Osyth Creek and the village harbour.


Sid Bruce a village historian describes the tradition as follows:
This was originally an annual procession of villagers around their boundaries to check for any infringements by their neighbours. A common practice by the unscrupulous was to
move boundary markers or erect false ones to include pieces of land, ponds etc to their advantage, or to exclude the hovels of the poor to become the responsibility of others. Often obstructions were erected to impede their progress and usually dealt with by a party of men bearing axes and hammers, which often resulted in a ‘punch up’ or two!
As most of the population then were illiterate and few records kept, the knowledge of the oldest inhabitants had to be relied upon. Eventually they had to pass the details to
the children who too had to store the information in their minds. Just to make sure they didn’t forget, at each boundary marker they were beaten with willow wands, but usually received a small recompense in coins or goodies for ‘their pains’.
Following a series of disasters and crop failures in France during the 5th century, the clergy began processions around the fields blessing them and the creatures with prayers
and psalms and this was known as Rogationtide, from the Latin rogatio - to ask. During the 8th century England was experiencing similar problems and also adopted the practice, combining it with the custom of beating the bounds. This usually took place around Ascension Day but is now held the Sunday before, which this year is May 8th.
As education improved, better records were kept and rough maps drawn and the practice of beating the children died out. The custom turned to the beating of the actual
markers etc., although bumping the children on their heads or in a bunch of stinging nettles etc, is a practice, in token form, still done. This was also the fate of any new clergy to the Parish! Naturally this ceremony became a festive occasion with much eating and drinking; therefore pubs close to boundaries like our Flag Inn were popular venues and may explain why some boundaries were inclined to meander!


One of the stops for a short prayer on the way.


This year Martin has chosen to walk the section from Point Clear to The Flag public house. Respecting the nesting birds the party did not go along certain sections of boundary but
stuck to the paths. Aproximately 40 walkers left Stone Point at 12.30pm and 22 finished at The Flag - some dropping out at the Mill Dam.

Bound Beaters were invited by Martin to pick and mix their walking if that suited them. His instruction beforehand was  "You do not have to
walk all the way. We will arrange for a car to meet us near Lakeside and again at the Flag to take car drivers back to their vehicles. Do bring appropriate clothing, food and drink and dogs on leads are most welcome".
Brenda & Roger Lord were stewards for the walk, and its success was due in no small part to their advance preparation and effort on the day.

Point Clear to the Dam - 2¾ miles. The Dam to the Flag - 2¼ miles.
Total - approx. 5 miles.

5/5/02


Click on the thumbnails below for an enlargment.
These pictures supplied by John White




 



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