Is not Martinmas the eleventh November so that Martinmas Eve must be the tenth?
A very good point, but historically the new day started at first light (daybreak) so therefore the previous day continued until then. As this was a 'tax' there was a logic in delaying the payment until the very last possible moment. So the collection is held at ‘before sun-rising’.
Is this just an example of the landed aristocracy exploiting the peasants?
At first sight it may be but His Grace the Duke of Buccleuch and Queensberry only collects 46p (or expects to). It used to be 9/4 (nine shilling and four pence) there used to be an odd half pence but they did away with the half pence! The ceremony is now held voluntarily. His Grace has promised to support the ceremony as long as it receives public support. It may easily be appreciated that his expenses far exceed the income, for example the paying for the newspaper advertisement, the travel expense of staff and several guest tickets to the breakfast.
Has it really been held continuously since 1170 AD?
The answer is almost yes at the stone, the current location. It was held elsewhere prior to that and was recorded then in 1086. There was a short break during the reign of Queen Victoria even during the war there were occasions where the only person present was David Eadon.
Is it really Britain’s oldest ceremony?
Well, we do not know of any others? There have been many other very old ceremonies but most have died out. Most others are relatively young. For example The Royal Maundy only goes back to early fifteenth century and is a ‘giving’ rather than a ‘rent collecting’ ceremony.
What is meant by ongoing 1170?
Our earliest record that we know of is a record that in 1170 implied it was ‘ongoing’ so existed then. Then the money went to the Crown. In 1629 the rights to the ceremony and its collection were ‘sold’; granted by letters patent by Charles I to Sir Francis Leigh and his heirs for ever for £40 (on 20 July in the 4 th year of his reign).
Is it Wroth Silver really unique?
Today it is. We know that there were other Wroth Silver ceremonies in the region but they all died out. It is probable that there was one in each Hundred in Warwickshire. This one is in the Hundred of Knighlow. There were also records of similar ceremonies in Hampshire.
What is so special about 'rum and hot milk'?
If you have traveled miles in the days before cars, and early November can have some very poor weather, it is as good a 'little something' to warm you before you go out to stand around in a bleak field waiting for the names of the parishes to be called. Also the organisers like drinking it! (I live in Wolston the last parish to be called!) Also as we think it is important to drink the health of His Grace we ensure that within the price of the breakfast is a glass. David Eadon ensures that it is only the very best Navy Rum that is used. We are not brave enough to challenge tradition. You do have to buy your own before the breakfast - but you can buy as many glasses of rum and hot milk as you need to brave the predawn cold (and treat the webmaster).
Why 'Churchwarden pipes'?
After this many years we are not going to question this either. We do provide one with every breakfast ticket. We think it is a lovely memento of the day. Some people have been known to make a special rack at home to house them. We had to reduce the size a few years ago when we could no longer get '15 inch clays'. Our supplier has now reintroduced a longer pipe that the 9 inch we provide and we are currently negotiating a suitable price. We may offer the option to 'trade up' as they are rather expensive. At the moment we are the only people who smoke in the restaurant area of The Queens Head and we are currently planning to approach our MP to ask for a derogation to the expected total ban to smoking in licensed premises - something akin to aboriginal hunting rights that allow for Eskimos to kill seals and polar bears. We did contact our MP and he offered to arrange a meeting but when we discussed the matter with the Landlord he said as we were a 'private party' - demonstrated for example by entry by ticket only, we did not need a special derogation. However he really prefers us to use his special smoking shelter and there you will find tobacco and matches.
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