Calendar of Folklore

Devon & Cornwall Notes and Queries VI, (January 1910 to October 1911), pp. 243-244.


W. R. Pearse Chope

Prepared by Michael Steer

Possibly because the Victorian period is branded by rationalism, there appeared, as part of a dialectic, a fascination with folklore. The term itself has a Victorian origin. The Folklore Society (FLS) is the national association in the United Kingdom for the study of the topic. It was founded in London in 1878 to study traditional vernacular culture, including traditional music, song, dance and drama, narrative, arts and crafts, customs and belief. The foundation was prompted by a suggestion made by Eliza Gutch in the pages of Notes and Queries. The present Note’s author mentions a number of Devon’s arcane customs and festivals and asks for information about them. The article, from a copy of a rare and much sought-after journal can be downloaded from the Internet Archive. Google has sponsored the digitisation of books from several libraries. These books, on which copyright has expired, are available for free educational and research use, both as individual books and as full collections to aid researchers.

Note 221. CALENDAR OF FOLKLORE. - The Folklore Society has appointed a committee, consisting of Mr. Henry B. Wheatley, Miss C. S. Burne, Mr. A. R. Wright, and Mrs. Mary M. Banks, to compile a work on the Calendar Customs of the British Isles, based on Sir Henry Ellis's edition of Brand's Popular Antiquities, as a beginning of the systematic collection of the folklore of the United Kingdom. I have offered my services in extracting such matter as is to be found in books, but, in order to make the collection as complete and representative as possible, I shall be pleased to receive from any of your readers particulars of local customs and sayings that have been collected on the spot and have not yet been recorded in print, and I shall also be glad to have my attention called to obscure printed sources which may have escaped my notice. As I am compiling a general collection of the county folklore for the Society, anything relating to local folklore will be welcome, but, for the present purpose what is required are notices of customs observed at particular annual dates and seasons, weather omens, divinations or cures connected with dates, months or seasons, local as well as general annual feasts, saints' days connected with feasts or church-dedications, or even sayings, etc., about saints popularly remembered though without local celebrations. As an indication of the sort of matter that may be found in Devon, I may mention the ashen faggot on Christmas Eve, blessing the apple trees on old Christmas Eve, crying the neck at the end of harvest, Lent-crocking, Oakapple day, May-day dolls, the Millbrook May-day ship at Devonport, "hunting the Earl of Rone" on Ascension Day at Combmartin, the ram feasts at Holne and King's Teignton, revels on particular days and with peculiar customs, Modbury and Denbury fairs, the resort to holy wells on Ascension Day, the mayor's riding at Bovey Tracey on Roodmas Day, divinations on St. John's Eve and Halloween, sayings relating to the moon and weather in connection with seasons or dates, May kittens, days of the week or month, such as St. Franklin's days, etc. Please reply direct: - 107, Ledbury Road, London.                                      W. R. Pearse Chope.