Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper

All Saints church tower (by Colin Smith)

Beating of the Bounds of All Saints Parish: Saturday 11 May

Around the Old Town on Saturday 11 May, at 10.30 am, the ancient (if intermittent) ceremony of beating the bounds will be conducted. The Ancient Romans did it. The Scottish and English Borderers do it, and many others. Bernard McGinley explains.

The tradition is that in the fifth week after Easter (Rogationtide) people of a particular place, including children and dignitaries, walk the parish bounds. It’s a way of noticing local details and also of protecting open spaces and wildlife. Even in the GPS age, it has a purpose, including meeting people who belong to the same patch.

The Hastings Local History Group has helped organise the event. The walk this year is of All Saints’ Ecclesiastical Parish. The route is just under three miles — about 4½ kilometres. The meeting place is the Stables Car Park in the Bourne, this Saturday (11 May) at 10:30. The first stone of the surviving boundary is close by.

People who want to join in should bring a willow wand or similar stick (such as a garden cane) to beat each stone three times. Children must be accompanied by a responsible adult. Silly hats are a local tradition, and sensible shoes. The procession will be headed by the church choir and the parish priest, along with Old Town Councillors Julia Hilton and James Bacon.

The route is hilly and includes steps. It misses out the All Souls part of the ancient parish. The next stone is at the Market Cross, then the route is up Old London Road to Mount Road. After that it’s a right turn to go across Clive Vale and up to Barley Lane, turning right and going on to East Hill. (Ecclesbourne Glen is omitted because of heavy mud). The East Hill Lift is closed, so it’s on to Tackleway and the Tamarisk Steps, ending at about 1 o’clock at St Clement’s Church, where refreshments will be served: cash donations welcome. (St Clement’s will be open and serving refreshments from 11.30 am to 2 pm.)

Tamarisk Steps, Hastings (by David Anstiss)

Mark, Mark, Mark

A prayer will be said at each stone (five have been found so far). A volunteer can be ‘bumped’ three times (as with birthday bumps), and then all the participants beat the stone three times with their stick, saying ‘Mark, Mark, Mark’.

People unable to do the whole circuit can do just a few of the stones (which are closest together in the first part of the route, and at the end – Winding Street and Courthouse Street). As a Hastings tradition, beating the bounds is underrated.

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Posted 08:35 Wednesday, May 8, 2024 In: Community

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