Collecting the folklore and uses of plants

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Forest Chapel Rushbearing, 2019

Date of the post: Posted on by royvickery |

Forest Chapel, formally known as St Stephen’s Church, Macclesfield Forest, stands at the eastern edge of Macclesfield Forest and the community today consists of merely four properties.

One service a month is regularly held in the Chapel, its main service being the Annual Rushbearing Service, held on the first Sunday after 12 August (the ‘Glorious Twelfth’ when Lord Derby comes to nearby Crag Hall for the shooting season).  Lord Derby’s ancestor gave money towards the building of the original church.  In 2019 the event took place on 18 August.

In the late 1940s it was recorded that over 800 people attended the Service, but in 2019 everyone managed to squeeze into the Chapel.  The gate pillars at the entrance to the churchyard, and the church porch were decorated with sheaves of rushes (Juncus sp.) which had yellow chrysanthemum flowers attached to their ties.  The entrance path to the church and the nave were strewn with rushes.  Arrangements of rushes and sunflowers (Helianthus annuus) decorated the church.

At 3 p.m. the Service started with the rather gloomy hymn, ‘Lord, we know that we have failed you.’  The remainder of the Service roughly followed a standard evening service with extra hymns.  After the fourth hymn everyone went out to the churchyard, to hear a sermon given by a visiting clergyman from a nearby parish.  Apparently this move from the church to the churchyard dates back to the time when not everyone could fit into the church.  The Service concluded with another hymn and the blessing, after which people were invited back into the church for tea and home-made biscuits.

Elder cultivated in Surrey

Date of the post: Posted on by royvickery |

In an earlier post on this website it was noted that elders (Sambucus nigra) are difficult to cultivate, ‘they don’t like growing near other trees of the same species, and are woodland or hedgerow plants which are unhappy when planted in a field’.  The photograph here, taken in August 2019, shows a field planted with elder beside the River Mole, south of Leatherhead, Surrey.

It seems as that the bushes were planted in about 2010, and it is not known whether they are planted primarily to provide flowers or fruit.  In August very few fruit were seen, mainly on bushes at the end of rows, so it is probable that flowers were harvested earlier in the year.

Update 21 August 2019:  We are told that the bushes are grown for their flowers which are made into cordials.


Date of the post: Posted on by royvickery |



People continue to collect blackberries (Rubus fruticosus), even in central London; photograph taken in Kensington Gardens, 11 August 2019.




Event: Folklore of Trees

Date of the post: Posted on by royvickery |

George Nigel Hoyle will be talking on The Folklore of Trees to the South East London Folklore Society, on Thursday 12 September, starting at 8 p.m., at the Old Kings Head, 45-49 Borough High Street, London, SE1 1NA (a short walk from London Bridge station).  Admission £5, £3 concessions.

Holditch Hall 64th Annual Flower Show

Date of the post: Posted on by royvickery |

Since 1955 the Holditch Hall committee has held an annual flowershow on the second Saturday in August.  Holditch is a tiny community in west Dorset, near its border with Devon, and still largely agricultural.

Inevitably a number of changes have occurred over the years, not so much in the show itself as in the, what was called, fete associated with it.  At the first show there was a children’s fancy-dress parade, which persisted for a few years.  Skittling for a pig, in which the winner won a small, live pig, continued for longer until it was realised that few people wanted to keep a pig until it was mature enough to be slaughtered.  In the early days there were a number of stalls and sideshows: tombola, bobbing the cork in which competitors tried to see how many floating corks they could remove using a hat-pin from a tin bath within a minute, pony rides, and bric-a-brac stalls.  These have largely been abandoned, and the main attraction is a ‘Family Fun Dog Show’, which despite its name appeared to be a serious affair.

Inside the Hall there was a good display of flowers, vegetables, fruit, and also classes for home produce, handicrafts and photography for adults, and 27 children’s classes.  Exhibits were staged between 7 and 8 p.m. on the Friday evening, or between 8 and 10 a.m. in the morning, after which the Hall was closed for judging to take place.  The show was officially opened at 2.30 p.m., and exhibits remained in place until 4.30 p.m.  At 4.15 p.m. various ‘special awards’ were presented to the winners.  Over the years the show has accumulated 21 such awards ranging from the Jack Turner Memorial Trophy awarded to the most outstanding exhibit in the fruit and vegetable classes, to the Garden News Oak Shield awarded for the highest number of points in the floral art classes.  Any exhibits remaining after 5.15 p.m. were auctioned in aid of Hall funds.

‘The Nettle Collection’

Date of the post: Posted on by royvickery |

‘Inspired by the cultural textiles of nomadic tribes’ Camira Fabrics of Mirfield, West Yorkshire, have created ‘a family of three textile patterns made from an intimate blend of virgin wool and harvested nettles’.

According to their publicity, Nomad contains 75% virgin wool and 25% nettle fibre, while Aztec and Traveller contain 83% virgin wool and 17% nettle fibre.  All three ‘families’ are furnishing fabrics.


Flowers for Jane Austen

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Flowers  placed  on  the  grave  of,  and the memorial to, the  author  Jane  Austen  (1775-1817),  in  Winchester  Cathedral,  Hampshire,  31  July  and  1 August  2019.



74th anniversary of Hiroshima

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Wreath laid by the Maryam Eslamdoust, Mayor of the London Borough of Camden, and flowers placed by others, at the base of a cherry tree in Tavistock Square at the conclusion of London CND’s annual commemoration of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945.


Minden Day

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Arrangement of red roses (Rosa cv.) placed at base of memorial to the Royal Hampshire Regiment in Winchester Cathedral, Hampshire, on 31 July 2019, in preparation for Minden Day, 1 August.  Regiments which participated in the Battle of Minden, part of the Seven Years War, on 1 August 1759, wear roses of different colours on its anniversary.


Plant-lore Archive: July 2019

Date of the post: Posted on by royvickery |

30 items of information were received from 10 contributors during the month, the majority of this material being received from Beth Steiner Jones, to whom we are very grateful.   The Archive now contains 8017 items from 2438 contributors.

Use of the website was disappointingly low, with only 6362 searches being made, compared with 8745 searches being made in July 2018.  The low number for the month can be partly explained by the fact that the website was out of action for several days; thanks to Tricia McGrath who speedily rectified things.

The compiler led three walks and gave one talk during the month, the walk organised by the Friends of Wandsworth Common being particularly enjoyable.

On 15 July it was reported that 2313 hard copies and 43 e-books of Vickery’s Folk Flora had been sold; as far as is known no further reviews of the book were published during the month.

Image:  pomegranates (Punica granatum) placed on the grave of Catherine of Aragon, in Peterborough Cathedral, Cambridgeshire, 12 July 2019.

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