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Pupils bring Plough Monday tradition back to life in West Norfolk village




An historic village tradition was brought back to life in Tilney All Saints this week as schoolchildren celebrated Plough Monday.

Pupils from Tilney All Saints Church of England Primary School and its partner school Anthony Curton, in nearby Walpole St Peter, paraded behind the plough and performed songs and dances, in a practice which can be traced back as far as the 15th century.

The celebrations form part of a National Lottery Heritage Fund project, called ‘Sharing The Plough’, which aims to revive some of the village’s history and traditions.

Blessing The Plough. Tilney Allsaints Primary School. Pictured with the Plough Participating Deputy Head Teacher Jeremy Wilkinson.. (26641505)
Blessing The Plough. Tilney Allsaints Primary School. Pictured with the Plough Participating Deputy Head Teacher Jeremy Wilkinson.. (26641505)

Project coordinator Nicky Stockman said: “It was brilliant and the weather was good. We had over 100 children, and 65 children dancing, they sang a range of songs and used music collected in their village by Vaughan Williams in 1905.

“The aim of the project is to bring things back to life that came from where they live.”

On Monday, the children also followed the plough to the parish church, where it was blessed.

“It was the first Plough Monday in Tilney All Saints since the early 1900s that we know of, but the records date back to 1453,” Mrs Stockman added.

Plough Monday is the first Monday after Twelfth Night, marking the start of the agricultural year.

Fellow project coordinator Gordon Phillips said more recent history accounts show that farmworkers would go around their village with a plough, perform dances and songs at people’s houses and expect to be paid, but if residents were not forthcoming then the ploughs were dragged across their gardens.

“This was certainly still going on at the beginning of the last century, but the tradition of taking round a plough is much older, especially in Tilney All Saints.”

The schoolchildren have further events planned as part of their project, including a performance in Ely next week, and at St George’s Guildhall in Lynn later in the year.


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