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Ascension Day

On Ascension Eve they plant the ‘Penny Hedge’ at 9am on the foreshore at Whitby, to withstand ‘three tides without removing by the Force of the Water’ as a penance for a crime committed in 1159 – but too complicated to relate here. In Tissington they put up their Well Dressings ready for blessing on the morning of Ascension Day.

Ascension Day, 40 days after Easter, is traditionally the day for Beating the Bounds, usually of a church parish, by perambulating the boundary marks to make sure they had not been moved or tampered with, and literally beating them with wands to confirm that the inspection had been carried out. Now, with accurate maps and plans it is no longer necessary, though some parishes keep it going for old times’ sake, most famously in Oxford. There are other boundary perambulations at other times of the year, notably the Sheriff’s Ride in Lichfield, the Border Ridings in Scotland, the triennial Laugharne Common Walk and the septennial Boundary Riding (actually walking) around Richmond in North Yorkshire. Every third year choirboys of the chapel, Yeoman Warders and other officials of the Tower of London Beat the Bounds of the Tower Liberty.