Beating of the Bounds: What does it Mean? (24-5-17)
The first entry which the Rev. John Astie made on May 22nd 1693 on behalf of the Churchwardens in their account book, was ‘at ye perambulation’ from very early times. During the Rogation Days – the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday preceding Ascension Day – the Parish boundaries were checked for any encroachments. It was a very special occasion and associated with a religious ceremony, when the Parish Priest asked divine blessing on the crops. Boys who had accompanied their elders on the perambulation of the Parish boundaries were ceremoniously lightly beaten – a custom which had its origins in the midsts of antiquity – probably to impress upon them the importance of knowing were land, they might eventually inherit, extended.
Queen Elizabeth I encouraged the custom for in 1559, the year of her coronation, she ordered ‘the clergy shall once a year at the time accustomed, walk about their Parishes with the Curate and other substantial men of the Parish and at their return to the Church make their common prayer”. We are also told in the scriptures ‘woe be to him who moveth his neighbour’s land mark”.
It was not until the surveyors made the enclosure map that the Parish boundaries were clearly defined and drawn on paper, followed by the fencing and planting of hedges. Before then, very heavy stone pillars were fixed here and there and a sighting between any two of them would show if there had been an encroachment, particularly where the arable land of two Parishes abutted. Sometimes a substantial wood post was used.
Good examples of these stones pillars may still be seen at the entrance to the residence of Ebenezer House on Church Street (which is built on the site of the earlier Fillingham Farmhouse), near the White Cottage on Fern Road and at the entrance to the Manor House on Fern Road.
This annual perambulation was an important event and the long journey round the Cropwell Bishop Parish boundaries called for some refreshments. As from Rev. Astie’s records.
Entrance to the residence of Ebenezer House on Church Street.
Stone pillar marker between Dovecote House and The White Cottage on Fern Road.