Traditional activities for July

Jul 9th, 2017 | By | Category: Articles

turningJuly is a month that doesn’t have a wheel of the year festival in it, and in terms of folklore and seasonal activities can seem a bit empty. However, poke around a bit, and there are all kinds of small scale local things to be found outside of the famous festivals…

Here’s a July excerpt from Kevan Manwaring’s Turning the Wheel.

Banbury Hobby Horse Fair
4th July

This charming event has been running since 1999 and I made it along to its eleventh anniversary after being told about it the week before in Avebury by Bob Trubshaw. I imagine one could travel the country this way, on a chain of serendipitous causality (the ‘word of mouth’ tour)…

The sounds of a bell, an accordion, and a booming bass drum, echoes along the High Street. I am standing by Banbury Cross, decorated with its foliate horse heads, about to watch the procession from the Town Hall to the People’s Park of the Hobby Horses that gather here this time of the year. Suddenly, the street is full of hobby horses, clacking and jigging along. The Mayor and other VIPs join the procession. Rotary Club volunteers steward the route, temporarily halting traffic as the colourful cavalcade wends its way around the Cross, paying their respects to the statue of the ‘fine lady upon a white horse’, the magnificent bronze statue erected in 2005 and inaugurated by the Princess Royal. There are schoolchildren upon their own cute steeds; ‘grown ups’ riding fabulous beasts. It is calm and civilised, like a Girl Guide parade, not a parade of frolicking pagan beasties. The crowds are naturally drawn into the procession, Pied Piper style, following it along Horse Fair, to the bottleneck of The Leys, a narrow alley they slowly squeeze down to the People’s Park, where a fête awaited amid the trees – all part of the Town Mayor’s Sunday and Hobby Horse Festival.


About Turning the wheel: On two wheels and 900cc across Britain, Bard on a Bike Kevan Manwaring endeavours to search out the places and people who mark the seasons and cycles in their own special way – in rituals, ceremonies and festivals both private and public, large and intimate, ancient and modern. Along the way he experiences and relate moments of sacred time found in the unlikeliest of places and circumstances, showing how ‘sacred time’ is a state of mind that can be experienced not only at sacred sites, but in the everyday, in the familiar. A collection of reflections about being fully alive in the Twenty First century and all that means, as much a modern travelogue, Turning the Wheel is a wise and witty account of a leather-clad time-traveller.


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