The ancient custom of “beating the bounds,” as it is called, was revived in the parish of Lyncombe and Widcombe, on Tuesday, after being in abeyance for twenty-one years. The last time it was done was in 1844, and it was pleasing to hear on Tuesday some of the older parishioners who took part in the proceedings, boasting of having participated in them on more than one previous occasion. The desirability of perambulating the boundaries was brought under the notice of the last Easter vestry, when a committee was appointed, consisting of the vicars, churchwardens, and other parish officers, for the purpose of making the necessary arrangements. The day having been fixed, circulars were issued to many of the principal parishioners inviting them to be present, and the invitation was, on the whole, very generally responded to.
The rendezvous was the Parochial Office, Claverton-buildings, opposite which, at ten o’clock, a procession was formed. In front a large blue banner was borne, inscribed with the name of the parish in white letters, then followed several of the sons of the parishioners (some of them being Blue Coat School boys) carrying blue sticks tipped with white knobs and small flags. After these came about one hundred parishioners, and the Yeomanry Cavalry band, the rear comprising a large break, and two flags supplied by Mr. J. Hulbert, and the private carriage of Mr. J. Dallaway, one of the churchwardens. With a brilliant sunshine, and the bells of St. Matthew’s Church ringing out a merry peal, the procession started on their long journey, the acreage of the parish being really greater than any other in the city, not excluding Walcot.
Passing down Pulteney-road, the first boundary stone reached was that at the top of Tyning-lane. Having made a slight detour, so as to embrace it within the limits of the parish, those carrying wands striking the venerable stone therewith, the procession continued up Bartlett’s-lane, the Razor Mill Field, at the top of which a few boys were selected to pass through a garden, the wall of which is the boundary of the parish, while the bulk of the company continued along the Tyning-lane. At this point the vehicles rejoined the party, and they were speedily filled with occupants.
Continuing up Widcombe Hill, while the boys were beating the bounds across the fields, the two parties united at the lower end of Macaulay-buildings, when the cheering announced that another boundary stone had been struck, or was being struck. The vehicles and their occupants kept the turnpike road over Claverton Down to Combe Down. In the meantime the remainder of the procession toiled up the steep ascent in front of Macaulay-buildings, beneath the sweltering heat of the sun. Taking the wall at the top, its course was followed until the entrance to the Monument-field is reached (better known to archaeologists from the remains of Wansdyke there found), across which the pedestrians move in a direct line close to the wall adjoining the footpath, until the turnpike-road on Combe Down is “made.” A stone in the wall, with the initials (newly cut) “L. and W., C., M. C.,” tells us that the three parishes of Lyncombe and Widcombe, Claverton, and Monkton Combe, here unite. A semicircle was formed round the stone, and in order that the youthful members may have a more vivid recollection, they were each in succession, seized by the legs and their heads held downward, while the seat (not of memory but of honour) was vigorously bumped against it, after which they each received a bun.
The cavalcade, with the addition of the Workhouse drum and fife band, was then reformed and continued along the Down until the top of Carriage-road was reached. In a niche in the wall, beside the entrance gate stood a stone cross to denote the boundary of the parish, but it it was found to have been destroyed, and the authorities at once came to the determination that it should be restored. From this point the boundary line extended for some considerable distance down Pope’s-walk and round to the new turnpike gate in the main road. Here a careful measurement was made, and it was found that one of the posts belonging to the turnpike was six inches within the borough, and the turnpike authorities will have notice to remove it. Thence the parties passed down the road to the King Wm. IV. public house, where refreshments had been ordered.
A capital cold collection was provided by Mr. Croker, the landlord, assisted by Mr. T. Hine, the former proprietor, and including the juveniles, not omitting the Workhouse boys, about 180 sat down. the chair was taken by Mr. J. Dallaway, Mr. S. Rogers officiating as vice. After the repast Mr. Bright proposed the health of the overseers (Messrs. S. Rogers and S. G. Mitchell) which was responded to by the former; and Mr. E. Hancock the health of the chairman, who, in acknowledging the compliment, gave the toast “the Queen and Government.”
Fortified by this repast, the party resumed their journey, which was rather a toilsome one. After ascending a wall 3 feet high, the boundary lay through the centre of Beech-wood. Forcing their way through tangled masses of briar and brushwood, they at length reached Horscombe Bottom, close to the woods in the rear of Midford Castle. Toiling up the valley beside a rivulet, with the heat greater than ever, the Cross Keys public house was at length reached. Thence the boundary extends across the fields in a diagonal line to the site of the Old Burnt house turnpike gate. At this point it diverges by the old road across Rush-hill, a little to the west of Stirtingale farm. Here the company again rested beneath the welcome shelter of some trees, with the distant city and the hills beyond stretching out like a beautiful panorama before them. bread and ham and cider and beer were again served out ad libitum, and all seemed thoroughly to enjoy themselves.
Leaving this charming spot, the journey lay in a direct line through the meadows to Shackel’s court, thence down Brougham Hayes buildings to the river on the east side of Dredge’s bridge. Here a barge, belonging to Mr. Sheppard, of Dorchester-street, was in waiting, on board which the whole party was speedily shipped, and towed up the centre of the river. Along the banks crowds of people were assembled, chiefly from the purlieus of Avon-street and Milk-street, amongst whom, according to custom, buns were thrown, the scrambling for which caused great amusement to those in the barge. At the Old bridge the crowds were still greater, having been attracted by the music and cheering. Wine-cakes and biscuits were distributed by the company, and in this pleasant way they enjoyed themselves while the barge moved slowly until the end of Ferry-lane was reached. The party here landed, and passing up the lane, and back by Pulteney-road to Claverton-street, they reached about 8 o’clock the point from which they started.
Here cheers were given for the Queen, the parish, the overseers, and Mr. Catley, the assistant overseer, and so ended one of the best managed and most enjoyable day’s outings that it has been our lot to record. It is due to the overseers and Mr. Catley to say that this satisfactory result was owing to the excellent character of their arrangements, and the spirit and energy with which they superintended them during the day.
Thursday, 22nd June 1865