Thursday, 17 May 2012

God's Acre

English Villages
 P. H. Ditchfield (1901)
Project Gutenburg
"God’s acre"  is full of holy associations, where sleep “the rude forefathers of the hamlet.” There stands the village cross where the preachers stood in Saxon times and converted the people to Christianity, and there the old sundial on a graceful stone pedestal. Sometimes amid the memorials of the dead stood the parish stocks. Here in olden days fairs were held, and often markets every Sunday and holiday, and minstrels and jugglers thronged; and stringent laws were passed to prevent “improper and prohibited sports within the churchyard, as, for example, wrestling, football, handball under penalty of twopence forfeit.” Here church ales were kept with much festivity, dancing, and merry-making; and here sometimes doles were distributed on the tombstones of parochial benefactors, and even bread and cheese scrambled for, according to the curious bequests of eccentric donors".

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