Sidbury and Sidford residents 'beat the bound'

PUBLISHED: 11:56 30 May 2010 | UPDATED: 14:01 18 June 2010

SIDBURY and Sidford parishioners re-enacted the ancient tradition of Beating the Bounds on Rogation Sunday. Dozens of residents walked the boundary of the two villages in a custom which goes back hundreds and hundreds of years. Rogationtide is the sprin

SIDBURY and Sidford parishioners re-enacted the ancient tradition of 'Beating the Bounds' on Rogation Sunday.

Dozens of residents walked the boundary of the two villages in a custom which goes back hundreds and hundreds of years.

Rogationtide is the springtime festival in the church's calendar when God's blessing is sought for the countryside, the crops and animals, and for all those working on the land.

Since ancient times this has been combined with the task of ensuring that people living in a parish remembered where the parish boundaries lay, which was very important when maps were scarce and most ordinary people were illiterate.

The process of remembrance was rough and ready, often involving the bumping of young lads against boundary stones or throwing them over hedges to reinforce their memories.

The modern day beating of bounds, which this year took place on May 9, is a much more civilised affair, requiring the boundary to be walked with participants taking traditional boughs of hazel or willow to beat the marker stones and prayers said along the way.

Six parishioners completed the whole of Sidbury and Sidford's boundary, which stretches 17 miles in total, reaching from Exeter Cross up Core Hill to Chineway, from the Hare and Hounds to Lower Knapp Farm, the Mincombe and Roncombe valleys to the Donkey Sanctuary at Harcombe and then to Sidford.

The event began in the morning with a service in St Giles' Church, Sidbury, with people waving off those who tackled the 17 miles.

Other walkers started in the afternoon and all finished together, celebrating with a tea in St Peter's Church Hall, Sidford, provided by Sidford WI, before coming together for a short service of praise and thanksgiving.

Reader Penny Elson said the service "was a special and very happy day for all concerned.


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