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Grasmere Rushbearing
Ceremony
Cumbria
 
 
Five Cumbrian villages celebrate the ancient custom of rush bearing but Grasmere Village holds the largest and most famous festival.  Their ceremony is at least 400 years old.
 
Each year, costumed children and adults of the parish process through the village carrying bearings. Today this 'rushbearing' is a cross made of freshly picked rushes or flowers.
 
The Grasmere procession is led by a brass band, followed by the clergy and church choir, six Maids of Honour, the children of the village, and anyone who wishes to join in by carrying their own decorated rushbearing.  The procession ends at the Church with hymns and prayers.
 
Traditionally the children are given a piece of Grasmere gingerbread if they have carried one of the rushes. Sometimes entertainment is provided for the children following the service and tea.
 
Ancient Tradition
This custom dates back to the days when the floors of Churches were simply packed earth, covered in rushes, and it was commonplace to bury bodies of parishioners within the Church as well as in the Churchyard. In ancient times parishioners brought sweet smelling rushes at the feasts of dedication to strew within the Church, to purify the air and help insulate the worshippers from the cold. The festivity gained the name Rushbearing.
 
Throughout history rushes were used as floor coverings in houses as well as churches.  They were in abundant supply and could be easily removed and burnt reducing the spread of disease by lice, fleas, bed bugs and vermin.
 
St Oswald’s Church site states:
Since the introduction of pews and the slate floor in 1841, the tradition has had no practical purpose but has been continued as a village celebration. Originally Rushbearing was kept on 20th July being the old celebration of St Peter, but with a change in the Church calendar Rushbearing was changed to 5 August, St Oswald's Day from 1885 onwards.  In 2003 the date was again changed back to July to coincide with the last Saturday of Grasmere School's summer term in order to include all the children in the celebration.
 

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Procession Route & Timetable
The Rushbearing Ceremony service and tea timetable for each venue is listed at Web:  Visit Cumbria/ Rushbearing Festivals
 
In Grasmere the procession leaves the School at 15:30 hours and walks up to Moss Parrock, (the green outside Heaton Cooper's Gallery) and then to St Oswald's Church. The service begins at 16:15 and the tea follows at 17:00 hours.
 
Further Information

Google Maps - Grasmere