Keeping up an age-old tradition at Great Musgrave …

Date: Friday 12th July 2013
Some of the young people who took part in the annual rushbearing ceremony at Great Musgrave.
Some of the young people who took part in the annual rushbearing ceremony at Great Musgrave.

SUMMER sunshine welcomed children, villagers and visitors to Great Musgrave rushbearing ceremony in which 18 children carried floral crowns and rush crosses from the village to St. Theobald’s Church by the River Eden.

The Rev. Peter Tomkins holds the youngest crown bearer, six-month-old Skye Gilby-Steadman, who was following in her mother’s footsteps.
The Rev. Peter Tomkins holds the youngest crown bearer, six-month-old Skye Gilby-Steadman, who was following in her mother’s footsteps.

The procession was led by the Rev. Peter Tomkins with villagers Andrew Wells and Mick Watson carrying the rushbearing banner.

The youngest crown bearer was six-month-old Skye Gilby-Steadman, from Brough, who carried the crown first worn at Great Musgrave rushbearing by her mother, Keren Gilby-Steadman, 29 years ago. Keren wore the crown when she was a baby and continued to carry a floral crown at the event until she was 11.

The rushbearing custom at Great Musgrave is one of only a handful which still survive of an old English festival in which rushes were collected and carried to be strewn on the floor of the church. Early churches had earthen floors and rushes were used as a floor covering for cleanliness and insulation.

Rushes were replaced once a year and at Great Musgrave the event takes place on the first Saturday of July. Following the procession there was a service at St. Theobald’s Church, led by Mr. Tomkins. The service included the traditional rushbearing hymn and a hymn dedicated to St. Theobald.

Children came from Great Musgrave, Brough and surrounding villages to take part. Girls who carried floral crowns were Sarah, Eleanor and Grace Featherstone, Becky Cook, Grace Keating, Anya Mandale, Emily Davidson and Skye Gilby-Steadman. Boys who carried rush crosses were Charlie Keating, Ryan Cook, Harrison Harvey, Zak Mandale, Eden Watson, Roman Watson, Oliver and Harry Slack, Ross Steadman and Brodie Gilby-Steadman.

Everyone enjoyed children’s sports and a generous tea at which the children taking part were all given a gift and enjoyed a picnic box tea.

Barbara Wilson said the organisers would very much like to thank everyone who helped with the teas and to organise the sports.