BEATING THE BOUNDS.
A Service conducted by the Rector of Feltwell was held at the Grange Farm on Rogation Sunday, 1947, and at the Manor Farm in 1948, for the purpose of invoking Gods Blessing on the rising crops. In olden days it was the custom to perambulate the parish at Rogation-tide and Queen Elizabeth, by her injunctions, ordered that on these occasions the Parson of the parish should stop every here and there and admonish the people to return thanks to Almighty God and pray for the increase and the abundance of the fruits of the earth. These perambulations were also made an occasion for visiting the boundaries of the parish which was most necessary in days when maps were practically unknown and disputes constantly arising about landmarks. The carrying of willow rods or wands was an important part of the ceremony and with them the boundary marks were formally beaten; hence the name Beating the Bounds." Eating also and ale-drinking played no small part in the ceremony.
Gradually the religious side of these perambulations died out and they degenerated more or less into an occasion for practical jokes and horse-play. Boys would be flogged at the boundaries to fix them in their memories; or ducked in the river if it constituted a boundary. The boys were generally compensated for their troubles; the following items are from the Church Accounts for 1670 at Chelsea:-
|£ s. d.|
|Spent at the Perambulation Dinner||3 10 0|
|Given to the Boys that were whipt||0 4 0|
|Paid for poynts for the Boys||0 2 0|
It also became a practice to bump boys and sometimes even grown-up people against the trees or posts which marked the boundaries. A Suffolk Rector in the history of his parish says that "not only boys but occasionally people of age and station ran the risk of being hoisted by the hands and legs so as to have that portion of the body, sacred in school days to the birch-rod, violently bumped against the tree-trunks or posts which served as parish boundaries. This was an impressive, if rough, method of teaching respect for a neighbour's landmarks in days when maps were few and far between."
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