Tag: St. Oswald’s Church

  • Rushbearing Festival with Mary Bower

    Our social media guru, Holly Goddard met up with local resident Mary Bower to find out more about the annual Grasmere  Rushbearing Festival.  Rushbearing has been celebrated in the village since 1860. It is a tradition that is celebrated every year by those living in the village who are keen to keep the tradition going.

    The Rushbearing Festival originated when rushes were laid on the church floors during the day and evening as the ground was too earthy in the winter. Celebrating Rushbearing is an ancient custom of strewing the seats with rushes, which was annually done the day after the rector had gathered his tithe wool.

    Old church with rushes on the ground

    Chruch service

    During the procession, children carry traditional bearings made by themselves, every year the bearings are different, depending on the flowers available. Just before the procession moves off, the children who have a bearing are given a five pence coin to exchange for a piece of Grasmere gingerbread. With the procession moving nearer the rush maidens appear in their green and white dresses. The rush maidens are chosen up to the age of eleven and can only be a rush maiden for two years.  The rush maidens carry the rush sheet and are positioned with one in each corner and one each side in the center.

    Rush maidens in their green and white dresses

    Joining the rush bearers are a band , the procession cross, woven with gold helenium flowers. Next comes seven of the traditional bearings from the rectory grounds, the choir, clergy, Churchwardens, and bishop. Then comes St. Oswald’s banner and the children circling the maypole held by an older girl. Followed by a band playing Jimmy Dawson’s March and Owen Lloyd’s hymn. Although there is a set order for the procession everyone can join in providing they have a bearing they have made themselves.

    Children with the maypole

    Rushbearing Festival procession

    Over the years many people in the village have contributed to the festival by making small bearings, including Mary herself. Below is a simple flower design with the words ‘HOPE RULES A LAND FOR EVER GREEN’ in cross stitch made by Mary using flowers and thread.

    Our kitchen assistant Rebeca has been a rush maiden for the Rushbearing festival, we felt this would be a good opportunity to get a picture of both Mary and Rebecca who have both been involved in the festival.

    After the observance of St. Oswald the children collect their bearings and proceed to the school field for a version of the world famous Grasmere Sports. This consists of flat races, Cumbrian wrestling and even a mini fell race. Certificates and trophies are presented to all the children who have a tea ticket which are provided with an enormous feast and a piece of Grasmere gingerbread.

    Mary has lived in Grasmere since 1966 so we felt this would be a good opportunity to ask her what she enjoyed about living in the village. “The village is lovely and I am very lucky to be close to such beautiful views of the fells”.

    Stunning view of the fells from Mary's back garden