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Known as the Wilkes Walk this ancient tradition has been carried out in Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire, since the 17th century.

Known as the Wilkes Walk this ancient tradition has been carried out in Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire, since the 17th century. Stock Photo
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Image details

Contributor:

Davlan / Alamy Stock Photo

Image ID:

E1R9PK

File size:

40.2 MB (2.4 MB Compressed download)

Releases:

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Dimensions:

4310 x 3264 px | 36.5 x 27.6 cm | 14.4 x 10.9 inches | 300dpi

Date taken:

25 May 2014

Location:

North Street, Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire, England, Great Britain, United Kingdom.

More information:

This ancient tradition has been carried out in Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire since the 17th century. It was once a part of the tradition of beating the bounds of the parish and is included in the charity estate of Mr. Edward Wilkes, wealthy landowner and founder of the ten Alms Houses in North Street, who died in 1646. His son, Matthew, left funds in 1693 to be devoted to this annual commemoration to be held in Rogation Tide. The residents of the Alms houses and vicar were given 10s each, no mean sum in the 17th century. To receive his payment the vicar has to preach a service in memory of Edward Wilkes. Matthew Wilkes wanted the family name remembered, so he insisted that while Edward's will is read aloud, one of the choirboys should be dangled upside down, in order to fix the words in the minds of those present. The inverted chorister was paid 5 shillings and their colleagues 2s. A procession of servers, choir, trustees and clergy leaves the parish church of All Saints and wends its way to North Street in Leighton Buzzard, following the garland bearer who leads the way carrying an arrangement of flowers and greenery on a pole. Originally this may have been to help ward off the somewhat unpleasant smells which may have been encountered on the way. At the Alms Houses the choir sings a short anthem, prayers are read in thanksgiving for the Wilkes family and part of the will is read aloud. While this is done a member of the choir must stand upon his or her head, the better to remember the occasion. This year it's Grace Webb who is inverted. Following this ceremony the gathering makes its way to the Market Cross, or the church, where buns and drinks are dispensed to those who have taken part. Originally this took the form of buns and free ale, but in 1896 the ale was changed to soft drinks after previous occasions when so many turned up for a free drink that the beer ran out., and the gathering became rowdy.

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