Ancient ‘Beating the Bounds’ ceremony to be held in St Albans

Mayor of St Albans Cllr Rosemary Farmer prepares for the traditional Beating the Bounds ceremony. Pi

Mayor of St Albans Cllr Rosemary Farmer prepares for the traditional Beating the Bounds ceremony. Picture: St Albans District Council - Credit: Archant

Everyone is invited to take part in the traditional Beating the Bounds ceremony in St Albans this weekend.

Mayor of St Albans Cllr Rosemary Farmer will lead the ceremony on Sunday, May 19, as part of an ancient custom dating back 700 years to medieval times.

The ceremony involves walking around the 4.5 mile boundary of the city while using wands made out of willow to beat the ground at significant locations. In the past, the ceremony was used for people to exert their rights as citizens and pass on the knowledge of where the boundary lay.

In 1327, there was a rebellion against the authority of the established church. Following a riot by the townspeople against the abbot, 24 citizens walked around the town to lay down its boundaries, declaring that their rights and freedoms within St Albans should be respected.

This year, the walk will begin at 2pm at the pudding stone in front of Kingsbury Mill in St Michael's Village, St Albans.

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The mayor's chaplain, the Rev Canon Dr Dennis Stamps, rector at St Nicholas Church in Harpenden, will say prayers along the route, while tour guide Stephen Potter will take on the role of town crier.

The walk will take around two hours, and will end at Verulamium Museum with tea and biscuits. Everyone participating in the event will be given a special Beating the Bounds certificate.

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Mayor Cllr Rosemary Farmer said: "I'd be delighted for residents to join me in Beating the Bounds on 19 May and help mark the boundary of historic St Albans.

"This traditional ceremony not only helps reminds us of our rights as citizens but is also a lot of fun."

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