Collecting the folklore and uses of plants


0181.  Rushes awaiting strewing on church floor as part of the annual Rushbearing Festival, St Oswald’s Church, Grasmere, Cumbria, 11 July 2015.

2.  [Durham coal fields, 1950s, ?at Easter time] I was shown by my father how to make a ‘whip’. This was made from the common field rush. The whip looked rather like an African fly whisk with loose head and plaited handle. It seemed the making of it was the important part of its use, for it had no known purpose, and I’m only guessing that it may have represented the flogging of Christ [Appleshaw, Hampshire, January 2014].

3. To this day collected and woven into the shape of a cross [for] St Bridget’s [Day] [Milltown, Co. Kerry, August 2009].

4. Soft rush (Juncus effusus) – a friend in Kilrush told me once how her grandmother (R.I.P.) taught her to make rush hats by ‘weaving’ several rushes together to end up with a product like a witch’s hat [Clonlara, Co. Clare, September 1997].

5. Recollections of childhood … in Dorset over 60 years ago … in a village on the great estate (as it then was) of the Earl of Shaftesbury, at Wimborne St Giles … making little green baskets (only girls did this) from soft rush (Juncus effusus) [Sidmouth, Devon, October 1991].

6. On the 1st Feb., it is the feast of St Brigid and crosses are made in her honour. The crosses are made from rushes [Maynooth, Co. Kildare, February 1991].

7. Mats and wicks of candles used to be made from the rush. When we were children we made cats’ cradles out of them. Peeled the rush and made into white roses? [Didcot, Oxfordshire, February 1991].

0018. Rushes are used to make St Brigid’s crosses. St Brigid’s Day is 1st of February. There are many different types of crosses made throughout the country [Daingean, Co. Offaly, January 1985].

Main image:  Grasmere, Cumbria; July 2015.