Beating the Bounds
The annual Linton Parish Boundary Walk
This page gives you some background and history to the Beating the Bounds tradition, and details of the next one..
Rogation and Ascension
Eastertide and the following weeks are an important time of year for the Christian tradition. During the forty days following the dramatic events of Easter, Jesus was said to appear before his followers several more times. The fifth Sunday after Easter is called Rogation Sunday, the start of Rogationtide which ends on Ascension Day, the final appearance of Christ. It is then the 40th day after Easter Sunday, and falls on Holy Thursday. Ten days later still is Pentecost, marking the coming of the Holy Spirit that Jesus promised to his disciples.
It follows that Rogation Sunday is not a fixed calendar date but varies from year to year, in just the same way that Easter Sunday itself does. The date in 2008 was especially noteworthy, as it fell on the second earliest date possible. It will not be so early again until the year 2160. It will not fall on the earliest possible day until 2285! In 2011 it fell on the second latest possible date, 29 May. That will not happen again until 2095, but it will fall one day later still, ie on the latest of all the 35 possible dates, in 2038. I plan to write a special article for that year! See here if you are interested in more details.
Beating the Bounds
In England, the custom of Beating the Bounds at Rogationtide is as old as Anglo-Saxon days – it is mentioned in laws of Alfred the Great and Æthelstan. In England a parish-ale or feast was always held after the perambulation, which assured its popularity, and in Henry VIII’s reign the occasion had become an excuse for so much revelry that it attracted the condemnation of a preacher who declared “these solemne and accustomable processions and supplications be nowe growen into a right foule and detestable abuse.” A rather pale imitation of this still takes place here, in the Bull Inn after the Linton Boundary walk..
Beating the bounds had a religious side too in the practice which originated the term Rogation, the accompanying clergy being supposed to beseech (rogare) the divine blessing upon the parish lands for the ensuing harvest. This clerical side of the parish bounds-beating was one of several religious functions prohibited by the Royal Injunctions of Elizabeth I; but it was ordered that the perambulation should continue to be performed as a quasi-secular function, so that evidence of the boundaries of parishes, etc., might be preserved. Although modern surveying techniques therefore make the ceremony completely obsolete in any practical sense, many English parishes still carry out a regular beating of the bounds, as a way of strengthening the community and giving it a sense of place. In the case of Linton we start and finish at Linton Church, and we are seen on our way with a prayer and a brief blessing from our vicar or his representative on the day.
It seems pretty certain that Beating the Bounds took place every year in Linton in years past, although no evidence has so far come to light that proves it. (Do you know something? Email the Webmaster!). However it is an interesting idea, with many attractive elements:
– it brings together the secular and religious elements of the Linton community
– it focuses on nature, on “nature’s bounty” and on the seasons
– it shows the participants the beauty of their Parish, its landscapes and its glorious views
– it teaches a little about history and local tradition, and Linton history in particular
– last but not least, it is a lot of fun to do and every year those who take part have a wonderful time..
Therefore, in 2004 the practice was revived by Jerry Whitmarsh, Chairman of the Friends of Linton Church. 22 walkers set off on Rogation Sunday 2004, and the walk has been repeated every year since. Sometimes the weather has been kind to us, sometimes less kind, but the walk has been completed each year. The sixteenth Annual Boundary Walk will take place on Sunday May 26th 2019. More details are given below. A welcome innovation a few years ago was a link-up at the Stile Bridge Inn with a group from Marden Parish, which took place again in 2009 and again in 2011. We would like to repeat this in some future year.
Alongside the Boundary Walk, Linton Parish Council has inaugurated a community project to review Linton’s boundary and its history, and in particular to research the boundary stones and markers that have been installed over the years, many of which are still in place. More information about the project can be found here, including a count on how many we have located to date – a surprising number!
29 of the 31 2016 Boundary Walkers.. Jane and Mick Brooker joined in shortly after
The photo above shows most of the 20 participants in the 2013 Boundary Walk.
Next Year’s Walk
The Sixteenth Annual Linton Parish Boundary Walk will take place on Rogation Sunday, 26th May 2019. Why not come along? See the fantastic views, talk to friends and neighbours, and enjoy a pleasant, not-too-challenging walk…
This is an old parish tradition that used to take place every year, all across the country. Now very few parishes continue or revive the tradition. Please help us to keep it going here in Linton, by joining in…
Prizes, for the youngest and the oldest to complete the walk!
Refreshments in the Bull Inn after the walk.
Starts at 10.30am prompt from the car park next to Linton Church.
The walk is about 7½ miles long, partly on public footpaths and partly on private land to which access is not normally available.
In 2016, for the first time we included an optional extra loop north of the Greensand Way, including several boundary markers not often seen, and a Saxon earth bank which marks the parish boundary and is probably the oldest man-made object in Linton. In 2019 this can be repeated if there is sufficient demand..
There will be a break just after half way at the Stile Bridge inn, where food and refreshments can be obtained.
Suitable clothing and footwear is recommended, according to weather. Not really suitable for pushchairs or wheelchairs, I’m afraid.
More information is available by contacting Jerry Whitmarsh
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