Wiltshire's Myths & Legends
Downton Cuckoo Fair
Celebrating the cuckoo’s arrival and the onset of good weather, this fair dates back to the 13th century and attracts around 20,000 people a year. The fair is very traditional with maypole and Morris dancing, rural crafts and Punch and Judy shows.
Oak Apple Day
Originally a public holiday, May 29th has continued to be an important date for villagers of Great Wishford, near Salisbury. On this date, inhabitants of the village were given rights to collect green wood from nearby Grovely Woods (owned by the Earl of Pembroke) so long as it wasn’t thicker than a man’s arm. These green boughs of wood would be displayed outside the villagers’ homes and would often feature oak apples on the boughs.
A colloquial name for people from Wiltshire, the term ‘Moonraker’ comes from the days of smuggling. Allegedly, local Wiltshire folk would hide their contraband from the revenue men in the local rivers and ponds and would try and fish it out at night. If caught, they would often say they were raking the moon’s reflection trying to get cheese.
A form of English folk dancing, Morris dancing is a strong tradition in Wiltshire with many of our events featuring Morris dancers. Accompanied by musicians, the exact history behind Morris dancing is unknown.
Thought to originate from Avebury, Wiltshire Lardy cake is a form of bread pudding which remains popular in Wiltshire to this day. Many of our traditional tea rooms still serve lardy cake and we’ll warn you now, it’s very tempting.
Dating from the middle ages, Mummers Plays are traditional folk plays usually performed in pubs and villages. There are some strong connections with Mummers Plays and Wiltshire villages, particularly in the village of Lacock.
Many a ghost is said to be found across the medieval city of Salisbury – Salisbury City Guides run regular ghost tours during the summer months and over Halloween. Other places famed for their ghost in Wiltshire are the Red Lion Inn in Avebury, Lydiard House in Swindon and Old Wardour Castle near Tisbury.
Do you know any other myths, legends and traditions that you think we should share? If so get in contact with us.
Tags: Wiltshire's Myths & Legends, Mytrhs & Legends of Wiltshire