Bank Holiday Monday I really enjoyed myself at the local Kingsteignton Ram Roast.
After the traditional blessing of the lamb in the morning to the official opening in the afternoon by the Wag of Widecombe Tony Beard http://www.bbc.co.uk/devon/content/articles/2005/09/29/tony_beard_radio_devon_feature.shtml there was a lot of entertainment including Maypole Dancing, Morris Dancing by men covered in black and with rags on their coats. Another tradition black faces because in Cromwellian times you were not able to have any fun so it is supposed to hide their faces and rags because they sewed the rags inside their coats to keep them warm and when they danced they turned them outside again to hide who they were. There were also many side shows to enjoy yourself as well as food and drink tents. A good time was had by all. Here is a short video I made of this years Maypole Dancing.
This Fayre has been going for a long time as can be seen from this extract from the Exeter Gazette the rest can be found here.
RAM ROASTING AT KINGSTEIGNTON*
“This curious custom was observed on Tuesday under very favourable auspices. According to tradition, the copious stream which rises at the foot of some limestone rocks, about a quarter of a mile from the village, and supplies nearly the whole of the village with water, in the days of antiquity ran dry, and the inhabitants, in their distress, offered a ram in the dry channel to propitiate the goddess of the stream, who immediately caused the water to resume its wonted course.
Since that time a ram has been annually sacrificed, and the stream has never failed; but, in consequence of the treatment it received, its bed required a periodical clearing; and when England became Christian it was thought appropriate to connect this annual cleansing with the feast of Whitsuntide.
Accordingly, on the evening of Whit-Sunday every year, the stream is diverted into another channel, and until recent times the ram was always roasted in the dry bed of the stream just before the water was turned back into it, and the festivities in connection with the ceremony were held in a field adjoining the stream. Latterly, however, the “Fayre” has degenerated, the ram being roasted and the merrymaking held on the Queen’s highway
On 2.30 on Tuesday, a procession was formed in the National Schoolroom and proceeded to a field near the Vicarage.
On reaching the field, the May Queen was seated on her throne under a may-pole, and her courtiers – eight boys and eight girls – having paid due homage, took their places and gracefully interlaced the ribbons around the pole, to the strains of music supplied by the band. This ended, the vast concourse of visitors were attracted by the savoury odour proceeding from the altar on which the ram was being roasted, and afterwards entered into a keen competition for the dainty morsels.