Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Straw for Deptford?

Happy Christmas one and all, and God rest ye Merry Gentlemen and Women. But wait a minute, if you live in Brockley don't forget to bring some straw to Deptford tomorrow.

According to the book 'A collection of old English customs: and curious bequests and charities, extracted from the reports made by the commissioners for enquiring into charities in England and Wales' by H. Edwards (1842):

'By a decree of commissioners for charitable uses, dated 4th March, 6th James I [1609] it was decreed, that the owners of three parts of land, whereof one was called Lady Crofts, should from thenceforth for ever deliver and distribute, every Good Friday, amongst the poor people of Deptford, all the bread which might be made and baked of half a quarter of good wheat; and should likewise yearly deliver, at Whitsuntide, half a load of good green rushes, and at Christmas one good load of new grass straw, in the pews of the church at Deptford [St Nicholas Church].

The land charged is Brookley farm. By an order of vestry, 17 April, 1721, it appears that William Wilkinson offered 21s. per annum for the time to come, in lieu of pea straw and rushes, which offer was accepted, and since the year 1744, 10s. has been received in lieu of the half quarter of wheat. The two sums of 21s. and 10s. are regularly paid and distributed in bread'.

So it looks like some Brockley farmer swapped their straw supplying duty for cash during the 18th century. I'm not sure that will do - come on SE4 people get to your farm. The decree does say 'for ever' after all.

1 comment:

Sarah Crofts said...

How marvellous! This sounds like a tradition worth reviving.