Plants, Processions and Ran Tan Tan

6th February 2019

Presented by Jeremy Lodge

This was the intriguing title of Jeremy’s talk which followed the Society’s AGM. He opened with a reminder of just how many traditions and rural events had disappeared over the last 60 years or so. Some of these could be seen in the way village people ‘sorted out their own’. In other words, dispensing justice to local miscreants. We all know about the humiliation of the stocks, but ‘Ran Tan Tan’? Alice Bealby, recording her memories in 1960, remembered a man being punished for abusing his wife with ‘ran-tanning’ or ‘rough music’. This was when a band of villagers assembled outside a house armed with sticks and old tin cans to make a lot of noise and would sing, for example:

‘Ran Tan Tan with an old tin pan,
This man’s been beating a good woman’.

The Flower Mission movement, which started in the 1870s, was a response to the growing concern about the plight of people living in city slums. The aim was to distribute flowers or plants to brighten the lives of people living in these grim urban settings. ‘Cowslipping’ also began in the late 19th century and would last for at least 30 years. George Nicholson took parties of children to collect cowslips from the fields opposite Wheatley Farm. These were then sent to London where they were distributed to hospitals, workhouses and homes of the poor.

Any occasion that could warrant a procession or parade would be energetically exploited. Photographs in our Archives show that Coronations, Sunday School annual outings and peace commemorations drew in large numbers of the community. And then there were the travelling musicians, home grown plays and bands and a lot of dressing up.

As might be expected for a farming community, events such as the harvest supper, Plough Monday (the start of the agricultural year) and plough plays marked the rural calendar, and for centuries we would have seen women and children gleaning in the fields.

Jeremy completed his presentation with a plea for photographs, writings and memories of lost traditions to be donated to our Archives.