Beating the Bounds – The annual Linton Parish Boundary Walk
This page gives you some background and history to the Beating the Bounds tradition, a report on the last walk and details of the next one..
Rogation and Ascension
Eastertide and the following weeks are an important time of year for the Christian tradition. During the forty days following the dramatic events of Easter, Jesus was said to appear before his followers several more times. The fifth Sunday after Easter is called Rogation Sunday, the start of Rogationtide which ends on Ascension Day, the final appearance of Christ. It is then the 40th day after Easter Sunday, and falls on Holy Thursday. Ten days later still is Pentecost, marking the coming of the Holy Spirit that Jesus promised to his disciples.
It follows that Rogation Sunday is not a fixed calendar date but varies from year to year, in just the same way that Easter Sunday itself does. The date in 2008 was especially noteworthy, as it fell on the second earliest date possible. It will not be so early again until the year 2160. It will not fall on the earliest possible day until 2285! In 2011 it fell on the second latest possible date, 29 May. That will not happen again until 2095, but it will fall one day later still, ie on the latest of all the 35 possible dates, in 2038. I plan to write a special article for that year! See here if you are interested in more details.
Beating the Bounds
In England, the custom of Beating the Bounds at Rogationtide is as old as Anglo-Saxon days – it is mentioned in laws of Alfred the Great and Æthelstan. In England a parish-ale or feast was always held after the perambulation, which assured its popularity, and in Henry VIII's reign the occasion had become an excuse for so much revelry that it attracted the condemnation of a preacher who declared "these solemne and accustomable processions and supplications be nowe growen into a right foule and detestable abuse." A rather pale imitation of this takes place here, in the Bull Inn after the Linton Boundary walk, but of course no such accusation could be made in our case..
Beating the bounds had a religious side too in the practice which originated the term Rogation, the accompanying clergy being supposed to beseech (rogare) the divine blessing upon the parish lands for the ensuing harvest. This clerical side of the parish bounds-beating was one of several religious functions prohibited by the Royal Injunctions of Elizabeth I; but it was ordered that the perambulation should continue to be performed as a quasi-secular function, so that evidence of the boundaries of parishes, etc., might be preserved. Although modern surveying techniques therefore make the ceremony completely obsolete in any practical sense, many English parishes still carry out a regular beating of the bounds, as a way of strengthening the community and giving it a sense of place. In the case of Linton we start and finish at Linton Church, and we are seen on our way with a prayer and a brief blessing from our vicar or his representative on the day.
It seems pretty certain that Beating the Bounds took place every year in Linton in years past, although no evidence has so far come to light that proves it. (Do you know something? Email the Webmaster!). However it is an attractive idea, with many attractive elements:
– it brings together the secular and religious elements of the Linton community
– it focuses on nature, on "nature's bounty" and on the seasons
– it shows the participants the beauty of their Parish, its landscapes and its glorious views
– it teaches a little about history and local tradition, and Linton history in particular
– last but not least, it is a lot of fun to do and every year those who take part have a wonderful time..
Therefore, in 2004 the practice was revived by Jerry Whitmarsh, Chairman of the Friends of Linton Church. 22 walkers set off on Rogation Sunday 2004, and the walk has been repeated every year since. Sometimes the weather has been kind to us, sometimes less kind, but the walk has been completed each year. The fourteenth Annual Boundary Walk will take place on Sunday May 21st 2017. More details are given below, together with a report on the 2016 Boundary Walk. A welcome innovation a few years ago was a link-up at the Stile Bridge Inn with a group from Marden Parish, which took place again in 2009 and again in 2011. we hope to repeat this from time to time in future years.
Alongside the Boundary Walk, Linton Parish Council has inaugurated a community project to review Linton's boundary and its history, and in particular to research the boundary stones and markers that have been installed over the years, many of which are still in place. More information about the project can be found here, including a count on how many we have located to date – a surprising number!
2016 Boundary Walk
29 of the 31 2016 Boundary Walkers.. Jane and Mick Brooker joined in shortly after
The weather was yet again very kind to us this year with dry conditions, and warm sunshine. A record 31 walkers, the oldest 80 years old, and four dogs set off in good time after a brief collect, prayer and blessing from our Rector, Rev. Peter Callway. We reached the Stile Bridge in good time and in good order, where we sat for an hour, refreshed ourselves and chatted with each other.
After lunch we continued on round and back up to the Greensand Way, where the party split in two. Some went back along the Way to the Church, while those with the time and the inclination continued to follow the boundary through the woods, up to and along the ancient earth bank and then out on to Loddington Lane. When all were arrived back at Linton Church, prizes were presented to Terry Berry and James Angear for being the oldest to complete the walk, and to Harry Lowe and Matthew Butters for being the youngest. They are both 15 and in training for their Duke of Edinburgh Awards. Then those that wished repaired to the Bull Inn, to celebrate another highly successful Beating of the Linton Bounds.
The photo above shows most of the 20 participants in the 2013 Boundary Walk.
There are some more photographs of the various Linton Boundary walks available for you to view, click here.
Next Year's Walk
The Fourteenth Annual Linton Parish Boundary Walk will take place on Rogation Sunday, 21st May 2017. Why not come along? See the fantastic views, talk to friends and neighbours, and enjoy a pleasant, not-too-challenging walk…
This is an old parish tradition that used to take place every year, all across the country. Now very few parishes continue or revive the tradition. Please help us to keep it going here in Linton, by joining in…
Prizes, for the youngest and the oldest to complete the walk!
Refreshments in the Bull Inn after the walk.
Starts at 10.30am prompt from the car park next to Linton Church.
The walk is about 7½ miles long, partly on public footpaths and partly on private land to which access would not normally be available.
In 2016, for the first time this included an optional extra loop north of the Greensand Way, including several boundary markers not often seen, and a Saxon earth bank which marks the parish boundary and is probably the oldest man-made object in Linton. In 2017 this can be repeated if there is sufficient demand..
There will be a break just after half way at the Stile Bridge inn, where food and refreshments can be obtained.
Suitable clothing and footwear is recommended, according to weather. Not really suitable for pushchairs or wheelchairs, I'm afraid.
More information is available by contacting Jerry Whitmarsh
Click here to return to the top of this page
Click here to return to the main Linton Walks page…