This is a continuation of a Paper on the “Survival of Old Customs” in Peterborough and the neighbourhood which was read at the Royal Archaeological Society’s meeting in 1898, with an addition of a few more old customs, and more particulars of others, to which I have also added a collection of the quaint Weather and Folk Lore of this district. Being at a point where four counties are almost within a stone’s throw, Peterborough possesses the traditions of the Counties of Huntingdon, Cambridge, and Lincoln, as well as Northampton. It is rather difficult to locate these sayings to one particular County, so I have taken those current within a radius of about fifteen miles.
Most of them have been repeated to me personally and only in a very few cases have I copied any which have been printed and then only to make the collection more complete.
The two Northamptonshire Poets, Dryden and John Clare, often notice the phases of the Weather, and John Clare, especially, describes the Rural Customs and weather Lore of this district with a true Poets feeling and amongst his M.S.S., now the property of the Peterborough Museum, are many unpublished poems and also his Diary which, at present, is unknown to the general public. John Clare was well styled the English Burns and his notes and Memoranda on the various local events are most valuable to those who take an interest in the sayings and doings of the early part of the 19th century.
Many charms are used at the present time and, altho’ reticent, the villagers, (when you have gained their confidence), will tell you of their belief in the various whims and of the successful results of their practice.
In almost every proverb where Peterborough is mentioned it is associated with pride, and some people say that they are still applicable.
The first and second of the following rhymes date from before the Reformation:
Crowland as courteous, as courteous may
Thorney the bane of many a good tree,
Ramsey the rich and Peterborough the proud,
Sawtry, by the way, that poor Abbey,
Gave more alms than all they.
Ramsey the rich of gold and of fee,
Thorney the flower of the Fen Country,
Crowland so courteous of meat and of drink,
Peterborough the proud, as all men do think,
And Sawtry by the way, that poor Abbaye,
Gave more alms in one day, than all they.
Peterborough the proud of their ancient
Thorney the flower of many a fair tree,
Crowland the courteous of their meat and drink,
Spalding the gluttons as all men do think,
Sawtry by the way, that old Abbaye,
Gave more in one day than all they.
Peterborough poor and proud.
Another version gives Peterborough:
Famous for pride and Stamford for poor.