The Lymm Rushbearing
Altrincham and Bowden Guardian, 19th Aug, 1876, p.5

Extract from the Press Report

The "Rushbearing" is the title given to the Lymm fair or yearly carnival, which began on Saturday last, extending over Tuesday.
Rushbearing is a very old custom, and one, we believe, which has for generations been carried out in Lymm, the present year, however, being an exception. The reasons for the custom having been ignored this year are various, most of the inhabitants being tired of subscribing towards the fabrication of what, in these days, is of no utility, or is inconsistent with the enlightenment and tastes of the people.
As stated before, the custom is a very ancient one, and in years past had its uses,. It was customary to construct a cart of rushes, which was placed on the body of a real cart, and borne along the streets of the village drawn by four horses. This having been done, the cart was taken to the village church, and the rushes were used for the floors in lieu of carpets or matting, as was customary in the palaces of our forefathers of the Elizabethan and previous eras. So that in olden times this custom may have had its rise from a desire to provide the rushes for the church voluntarily, and with some show of festivity.
In these days, however, rushes are at a discount, especially for church purposes: and as the cost of the generally amounted to £18 or £90, and the rushes were of no use afterwards, the old custom has been thrown aside, and the subscriptions have found their way into other channels, one of these being the athletic sports.
The only trade of old times seen during the present rushbearings was the "Morris Dancers," a body of whom appeared in the streets on Saturday, and went through their dances. Morris dancing is probably as old as rushbearing, and is supposed to have been derived from the Moriscos (Moors) of Spain, and introduced into England in the reign of Edward III, when John of Gaunt returned from Spain.
Morris dancers became very popular, and in the time of Henry VIII were a principle feature in all popular festivals. Like most other old customs, Morris dancing has degenerated, and perhaps another year will see the extinction of this interesting pastime of other days, so far as Lymm is concerned.
The usual gathering of shows, shooting galleries, &e. thronged the village streets during the three days, and these were of a heterogeneous character.  

The "Mogul Wizard" was there in all his glory and the "Hottentot Venus, as she appeared at the Crystal Palace", was to be seen seen [sic] "alive! alive!" along with the talking pony, and a vast host of similar strong attractions in another show for one penny only. The inevitable fat lady was there, this time with her also fat daughter. A "life size" painting of the daughter, about 12ft. high, gave her an arm about the same size and shape as a sack of flour. Of course the "roundabouts" were there, and the striking machines for dislocating thumbs, with a host of pedlars and swindlers who make their living at such fairs. A great deal of drunkenness was noticeable during the festival. As a counter-attraction to these orgies, there were trips to Buxton and other places which were well patronised. The great event of Monday was the athletic sports, which were numerously attended, a  great number of people from Warrington and other places flocking in to see them.   

The Press Report

Image unavailable for copyright reasons

Back to the Library

İThe Lymm Morris
Last updated 08 April 2020