Rushbearing is a tradition which stems back hundreds of years in the North West of England. It is thought that the tradition originates in Lancashire and Cheshire; these days some parts of West Yorkshire and Cumbria also participate in the tradition.
Rushes were used for centuries as a floor covering to dirt floors in churches. The rushes helped purify the air of the church (where parishioners were often buried, as well as the churchyard) and to help insulate against the cold.
It was during the 17th century that a festival was developed, the focal point being the rushcart which transported the rushes to the local church. The cart formed part of a procession with Morris Dancers and Mummers which went to the church where the rushes were to be used. Often, rivalry would develop between the supporters and builders of different carts which would sometimes result in brawls, often induced by the large amount of mead (now beer) that was consumed during the procession. Eventually, the puritanical church ministers started to refuse the rushbearers entry to the church.
Clogs are the historic traditional footwear of this region, and of much of the north of England. Their wearing dates back to the times of the Industrial Revolution, when those working in the mills and factories needed sturdy protective footwear. The thick leather upper and even thicker wooden soles of the clogs kept them safe and comfortable during the long working days. Every morning and evening the cobbled streets of northern towns would have echoed to the ring of clogs on stone as workers hurried to and from their machinery.
Today relatively few workers need this protection, and those that do are more likely to choose steel-capped boots than clogs. But clog-making, and –wearing, is alive and well, it seems. We visited this traditional clog-making factory and shop in the small town of Mytholmroyd, where we saw many different designs on display, from the practical (clog boots) to zany (flower power clogs anyone?)
Later we were to see many clog-wearers – those pulling the Rushcart, the Morris dancers, and some just wearing them as part of their own celebration of the festival. We also learned from Ricky52 how useful he found them to protect his feet from the cold when out shooting in the depths of winter. It seems those past industrial workers knew a good thing when they saw it!
If you’re following the weekend in chronological order, click here for my next tip, the Rushbearing Festival in Sowerby Bridge.
You ar enot . definitely not, going to see anyone wandering around Halifax (or anywhere else) wearing clogs.
Unless they are members of a clog-dancing or Morris-dancing troupe.
But if you'd visited in the early 1900s, you would have seen thousands of people wearing these wooden-soled shoes or boots.
If you worked in the mills, or the factories, you needed cheap, hard-wearing footwear which would protect your feet and keep them relatively comfortable (remember that 14+ hour factory days were the norm in the 1800s). Clogs, with their leather uppers nailed to a strong wooden sole, fitted the bill.
You will see clogs if you can find a display of clog-dancing or local Morris-dancing. Then you can imagine the sound of hundreds of pairs of clogs walking across the cobbles every morning, on their way to work in the mills and factories....
You'll get an idea from the sound of the clogs in the Sowerby Bridge rush-bearing here.
No verbal, physical or sexual (unless your wearing leather) abuse shall be put upon your host.
You can however lavish such gifts such as large amounts of cash into his Swiss bank account (£1m minimum)
I know gifts are brought sometimes to VT meetings; however there will be no need for such bribery, the pleasure of your company will suffice.
You may have difficulty with the dialect, we Yorkshire folk are friendly and are happy to translate if required!!
The picture is more from the Woolshops.