Byzant Procession 2019 (2)

Byzant Ceremony Revived For Second Year During Food Fair

Gold Hill Museum volunteers and supporters were prominent among the re-enactors of the Byzant Ceremony during the 2019 Shaftesbury Food Fair. The procession formed up at the Gold Hill Museum stall near The Commons and made its way down Tout Hill to Enmore Green, the location of the springs which once supplied most of the town’s water.

Byzant Food Fair Stall
Gold Hill Museum Food Fair Stall

After one of many blessings en route the procession was greeted by the Lord of the Manor of Gillingham and his Lady, who offered refreshments. The symbolic rent for access to the springs was handed over, and in the case of the mace-like Byzant, returned to the representatives of the town. Other elements of the payment in kind included a calf’s head, a pair of gloves, a cask of ale, and bread.

Byzant Offerings to Lord of the Manor
Byzant Offerings to Lord of the Manor

Music and dancing followed, after which the procession somewhat wearily ascended the steps to Castle Hill and made its way along Magdalene Lane to the Westminster Memorial Hospital, and the War Memorial on Park Walk – the limit of the numerous stalls of the thriving Food Fair – before terminating in Holy Trinity Churchyard.

The original Byzant can be viewed in Gold Hill Museum. The story of Shaftesbury’s water supply is traced in one of this year’s intriguing temporary exhibitions. Gold Hill Museum is open every day 10.30a.m. – 4.30p.m. until 31 October, and admission is free. Thanks to ThisisAlfred for the photograph of the head of the Procession.


Tudor Accidents of the Month: May 2019

Tudor England was a dangerous place. There were plagues and wars, perilous childbirths and shocking infant mortality. But what risks did people face as they went about their everyday lives? Steven Gunn of Merton College and Tomasz Gromelski of Wolfson College are investigating this problem using evidence from coroners’ reports preserved in the National Archives. The four-year project entitled ‘Everyday Life and Fatal Hazard in Sixteenth-Century England’ is based in Oxford and funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, with support from the Faculty of History and Merton and Wolfson colleges.

Professor Steven Gunn is the 2019 Teulon Porter Memorial Lecturer. At Shaftesbury Town Hall on Tuesday 24 September at 7.30p.m. he will give an illustrated talk on ‘Everyday Life and Accidental Death in Tudor Dorset and Wiltshire’. This event is free to members of The Shaftesbury & District Historical Society while non-members may pay £5 at the door.

May 2019. Mining has always been dangerous. Although tin mining was one of Tudor England’s major extractive industries, accidents are not well recorded. This was because for much of the sixteenth century the coroners of Devon and Cornwall were less efficient in sending in their reports, and perhaps in holding their inquests, than those of other counties. Yet when fatalities do crop up they are eloquent. May 1571 brought the death of Ewen Taylor, struck in the stomach by an iron bar while mining at Ilsington, and Oliver Hannaford, wounded with his ‘tynhoke’ while digging for tin at Ashburton.

The depth of some tin works, reached by long ropes, caused the deaths of two other victims more indirectly. At Polgooth in St Mewan in Cornwall in February 1591, Thomas Hicke, tinner, was working at the tin mine when the ‘wynder wyndinge rope’ caused him to fall into ‘the Tynworke poole or pitt’, where he drowned. At St Neot in December 1588, Michael Tapnell hoped to exploit the depth of the mine to avoid arrest for debt when his creditor turned up from St Blazey to take him into custody, bringing two other men to help. He let himself down into the tin working on a rope, intending to slip away into the furthest part of the mine, but suddenly his hands slipped and he fell to the bottom of the pit and broke his neck.

Extracts from the website of the Everyday Life and Fatal Hazard in Sixteenth Century England Project by kind permission of Steven Gunn.


Shaftesbury Camera Club Exhibition 04-10 May 2019

Shaftesbury Camera Club return for their fifth Annual Exhibition in the Garden Room at Gold Hill Museum, opening at 1p.m. on Saturday 04 May and running until, and including, Friday 10 May. Entry to the Exhibition is free at any time during the normal opening hours of the Museum (also free to enter), between 10.30a.m. and 4.30p.m. Access to striking and original images is guaranteed.

“Me and my mate” photograph by courtesy of Sue Boddington of Shaftesbury Camera Club.