How to lay a hedge | Gardens Illustrated

Learn how to lay a hedge using traditional craftsmanship and hedge laying skills.

“Interested in the centuries-old skill of hedge laying? Follow our guide on how to lay a hedge and learn about the traditional ways to lay a hedge.”

Source: How to lay a hedge – Gardens Illustrated

“Hedge laying is a seasonal job carried out between October and March when trees and shrubs are dormant, and birds have finished nesting in the hedges…”

Ever wondered how to “lay a hedge” in classic English style (or even what that term meant)? Here’s an excellent starting point! No reason it couldn’t be done here in the U.S., for those with the land and resources to do so! I’ve often wished I could have a place where I could recreate an English cottage garden, including / incorporating a traditional hedge.

 

Plough Monday, 2020

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Today is Plough Monday, the first Monday after Twelfth Night and Epiphany, and what used to be an important date in the agricultural calendar. Traditionally it was the day on which farm workers returned to their duties after the Christmas and New Year break. On this day,

“A plough would be taken to the local church to be blessed in order to ‘speed the plough’ and ensure a bountiful harvest later in the year. It was a difficult time of year for ploughman, as the ground was hard and difficult to work on, so the ploughmen would decorate their ploughs and take them around the local villages where they would ask for money from the wealthy landowners.”

This money was formerly used to pay for “plough lights”: candles lit in the church, to pray God’s blessing upon the agricultural work. And if a donation was not forthcoming, the miserly one might find that his yard would be plowed!

Today would be the perfect day for a classic English “ploughman’s lunch,” which at its most basic consists of rustic country bread, one or more varieties of (originally local, now any British) cheese, pickled onions, chutney and/or some other sort of “pickle,” and ale or (generally “hard,” but sweet would be a perfectly fine substitute) cider.

Some would add an apple, others some type of greenstuff (watercress would seem a traditional choice, as it might have been picked fresh from the stream running at the bottom of the field), or perhaps a boiled egg; but though one occasionally sees them with smoked meats, pork pies, or even Scotch eggs, there seems little need to go too far beyond the basics, to me.

Plough Monday, Cottage Loaf and a Ploughman's Lunch (Recipes)

This one includes spring onions and a (somewhat anachronistic, in my view) tomato, but otherwise sticks pretty close to the basic plan!

In conclusion:

Let the wealthy and great
Roll in splendor and state:
I envy them not, I declare it.
I eat my own lamb,
My own chickens and ham;
I shear my own fleece, and I wear it.
I have lawns, I have bowers,
I have fruits, I have flowers;
The lark is my morning alarmer.
So, jolly boys, now,
Here’s God speed the plough!
Long life and success to the farmer!

(I am almost positive that this verse is on the other side of the mug seen in the picture, above!)

Edwardian Farm: Wassail and Heavy Horses

Edwardian Farm: Episode 5

I have not, alas, been either too Anglophilic or too Anglican on here, of late! So in partial recompense, here is a link to a lovely episode (#5) of “Edwardian Farm.” The Edwardian age is, in some respects, my favorite period in Britain. America, too, though it wasn’t necessarily called by that name; later generations would call it the closing years of the “Gilded Age.”

In some ways the ultimate “Blighty Boys” era, it was the beginning of the modern period, with airplanes, motorcars, and tractors all putting in an appearance; yet, at the same time, there were more draft horses being used for agriculture than at any other time in history, and in Britain, farmers still wassailed their apple orchards as they had since time immemorial!

A most interesting survey of agricultural (and related) activities during this time in history.

 

Gunpowder treason and plot: raging against the mellow light | Laudable Practice

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“And why? their communing is not for peace : but they imagine deceitful words against them that are quiet in the land” – Ps.35:20.

Source: Gunpowder treason and plot: raging against the mellow light

Remember, remember!
The fifth of November,
The Gunpowder treason and plot;
I know of no reason
Why Gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot!

But what is the significance of this day? As “Historic UK” puts it, “A group of Roman Catholic nobles and gentlemen led by Robert Catesby conspired to essentially end Protestant rule with perhaps the biggest ‘bang’ in history. Their plan was to blow up the King, Queen, church leaders, assorted nobles and both Houses of Parliament with 36 barrels of gunpowder strategically placed in the cellars beneath the Palace of Westminster.”

One of the conspirators, Guy (“Guido”) Fawkes, “was arrested in the early hours of the morning of November 5th 1605, in a cellar under the House of Lords, next to the 36 kegs of gunpowder, with a box of matches in his pocket and a guilty expression on his face!” Ever since, “the burning of the Guy” – an effigy of Fawkes (even though the conspirators were actually hanged, drawn, and quartered) – and celebratory fireworks have been a feature of the day in Merrie Olde England!

But the significance goes deeper:

“‘Mellow light.’ It is the phrase Eamon Duffy uses to describes ‘the church of George Herbert.’ Herbert was ordained in 1629, early in the reign of Charles I. He was, in other words, ordained into a Church profoundly shaped by James VI/I, in which the influence of Jacobean Anglicanism was pronounced. The ‘mellow light,’ then, of Herbert’s Church was Jacobean light.

‘It was in the Jacobean Church that, in the words of Diarmaid MacCulloch, ‘the obscure and slightly controversial figure of Hooker was being transformed into an iconic … authority.’ It was in the Jacobean Church that the sermons of Lancelot Andrewes were heard. And so, as T.S. Eliot put it:

“‘The intellectual achievement and the prose style of Hooker and Andrewes came to complete the structure of the English Church … the achievement of Hooker and Andrewes was to make the English Church more worthy of intellectual assent.’

“The Jacobean Church was also the arena for the sermons of John Donne, demonstrating a native piety at once rational and deeply heart-felt, learned and popular, catholic and reformed, by which – as Donne stated in one of his sermons – ‘papistry was driven out, and puritanism kept out’…

“It was this ‘mellow light’ which the Gunpowder conspirators sought to extinguish.”

God be thanked, they were not successful!

 

Glories of the West / Blighty Boys: London before the fall

Source: London before the fall | Traditional Britain Group – Under Attack

Ah, how sadly the mighty have fallen! Scenes from London in “the good old days,” when it was still an English city (it will not surprise my readers that I wholeheartedly agree with John Cleese on this matter, based not only on news reports, but anecdotes from people I know who either live there, or have visited there over the last few years)…

 

London’s last working shire horses revive centuries-old tradition of cutting rare hay meadows | Daily Mail Online

Ham House head gardener Rosie Fyles said: 'There's something really special about witnessing the sights and sounds of this centuries-old rural tradition in the heart of London today. We know these flood meadows have been part of the London landscape since the 17th Century and would have been used for grazing and ploughed for hay and feed'

London’s last working shire horses are reviving the centuries-old tradition of cutting rare hay meadows without heavy machinery to encourage the return of wild flowers.

Source: London’s last working shire horses revive centuries-old tradition of cutting rare hay meadows | Daily Mail Online

There are some things draft horses – or “heavy horses,” as they’re known in England – can do better than any tractor, and one of those is protecting the ecosystem that they’re working:

Despite weighing up to a tonne, the heavy horses are still lighter than tractors and compact the soil less as they plod the fields, which helps plants and wildlife to flourish…

The National Trust said it decided to return to the traditional method of managing the land because of its many benefits for nature. The horses are a throwback to a bygone era of farming, before the invention of the internal combustion engine. Their remarkable stamina also mean they can work well into their 20s and can mow an average of 10 acres of grass in one day.”

And of course, the “exhaust” they produce fertilizes the land, rather than polluting the air; and unlike tractors, they can breed their own replacements!

Heavy horses back at work in London, even if it is only on one select site… Perhaps Jethro Tull (the band, not the 18th-century agriculturalist) was prophetic:

In these dark towns folk lie sleeping
As the heavy horses thunder by,
To wake the dying city
With the living horseman’s cry.
At once the old hands quicken,
Bring pick and wisp and curry comb:
Thrill to the sound of all
The heavy horses coming home…

— Jethro Tull, “Heavy Horses

The feast of St. Joseph of Arimathea | Holy Smokes

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 August 1st is the feast of St. Joseph of Arimathea in the United states (July 31 in the east). His story is one of mystery and tradition…

Source: Holy Smokes: The feast of St. Joseph of Arimathea

And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England’s mountains green?
And was the holy Lamb of God
On England’s pleasant pastures seen?

— William Blake, “And did those feet in ancient time? (Jerusalem)

Today is the commemoration of St. Joseph of Arimathea (as found in “Lesser Feasts and Fasts 1963,” approved for use in the UECNA), who is best known from the Gospel accounts as the one who gave his tomb to be the burial place of our Lord, Jesus Christ, following his crucifixion. The Collect for this day reads:

O MERCIFUL God, by whose servant Joseph the body of our Lord and Saviour was committed to the grave with reverence and godly fear: Grant, we beseech thee, to thy faithful people grace and courage to serve and love Jesus with unfeigned devotion all the days of their life; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

He – Joseph of Armimathea – may have another significance, too, especially for those of us who are of the English tradition. There is a persistent legend that Joseph was not only the recoverer of Jesus’ body, but his uncle, and a tin-merchant with trading contacts as far afield as Cornwall, in what was then the Roman Province of Britannia; and that he took the young Jesus with him on a trip there during the so-called “lost years” of Jesus’ life.

There is even a tradition that when Joseph thrust his thornwood staff into the ground, it took root, flowered, and blossomed, becoming the famous Glastonbury Thorn that survives to this day near the old Abbey of Glastonbury. It is, at any rate, this legendary trip (which cannot be conclusively proven – nor for that matter, disproven) which serves as the inspiration for the lines from the poet William Blake, quoted above, which became the well-known hymn, “Jerusalem”:

Personally, I tend to believe this pious legend – or at least give it the benefit of the doubt – and to consider that there is at least a good chance that “those feet in ancient times” did indeed “walk upon England’s mountains green”! Britain was in ancient and medieval times known as a particularly holy island, and what better reason for that, than that our Saviour did indeed grace “England’s green and pleasant land” with His sacred footsteps?

In any case, wishing you a blessed Feast of St. Joseph of Arimathea!