Category Archives: traditions

June Funfair and Morris Dancers on Ock Street


Along Ock Street are posters for a funfair at Ladygrove Meadow, beside the River Ock. NHS Staff with IDs can ride for free.

Abingdon once boasted seven fairs. The Michaelmas Fair is still very large and successful. There was also a Ock Street Fair in June. And the Funfair says ‘glad to be back’. I am not sure it is the same one.

A sign at the fairground entrance lists the Covid-19 rules and regulations.

The Abingdon Traditional Morris Dancers were dancing outside the Brewery Tap, off Ock Street, at around 3 pm.

Mr Harry Knight was made the mock mayor of Ock Street for next year without the usual election – because of Covid-19 rules and regulations.

Also present was Roger Cox, a previous mock mayor of several years. He now prefers to carry the real mantle of power – a pig’s bladder. He is officially called the fool. In Shakespeare, fools are clever commoners that use their wits to outdo Lords and Kings. In Abingdon, fools are clever commoners who use their wit and pigs bladder to drive Morris Dancers.

The horns are taken from a black ox, roasted on the Bury in Abingdon in the year 1700. An argument broke out between the men of Ock Street and the men of The Vineyard over the ownership of the horns. The horns were wrestled over the Ock Street finishing line after a determined battle between the men of both streets. The Ock Street men got to keep the horns and are still showing them off over three hundred years later.

March 1st – St David’s Day

If Trinity Church is anything to go by, a lot of people here in Abingdon have Welsh roots and still mark March 1st – St David’s Day – in some way. Some people may pin a daffodil or a leek to their clothes as these are symbols of Wales.
St David's Day
The Local Excellence Market was held yesterday in Abingdon. It was smaller than usual but vibrant. On the fruit and veg stall were lots of leeks. Most were as straight as those you might get at a supermarket. Others had grown with a distinct curve.
St David's Day
I came away with a very fine curving example. One traditional meal on St David’s Day is Cawl. It is a soup that is made of leek and other locally grown produce.

Mayor of Ock Street

Mayor of Ock Street
The election of the Mayor of Ock Street took place in Abingdon today. (The Mayor of Ock Street is the leader of the Abingdon Traditional Morris Dancers.) There were polling stations for Ock Street residents at The Brewery Tap and  Mayott House. They opened at around 10 am, and then the Morris Dancers processed into town and danced at a number of venues starting at the Black Swan.
Mayor of Ock Street
They were joined by a visting team, Mason’s Apron.
Mayor of Ock Street
The second dance was in the Bury Street shopping street.
Mayor of Ock Street
There was cloud, some showers, and sunshine later on. So flowers and wellington boots made a fitting outfit.
Mayor of Ock Street
In the afternoon the dance at the Long Alley almshouses were cut short by a downpour, then after a short time there were more dances outside Brewery Cottages.
Mayor of Ock Street
The election result was announced at 4:15 and was the closest anybody could remember. Roger Cox got 89 votes and Harry Knight 90. Mr Harry Knight is shown here being congratulated by Stuart Jackson immediately after the result. Stuart Jackson was himself Mayor of Ock Street for 11 years until 2007.
Mayor of Ock Street
The results were announced by Mr Ewart Hemmings (on the left). The sash and sword and cup of office were presented by the Mayor of Abingdon, Cllr Charlie Birks. Roger Cox, the challenger, congratulated Harry Knight. Roger was himself Mayor of Ock Street for several years.
Mayor of Ock Street
There was a big crowd to see the announcement.
Mayor of Ock Street
Mr Knight was carried by members of the Abingdon Traditional Morris Dancers along Ock Street, and back.
Mayor of Ock Street
The sun was shining and the traffic gave way for a few minutes to an old tradition on Ock Street.
Mayor of Ock Street
There followed a lot more dancing at different places, followed by an evening of feasting, singing, and quaffing at the Abbey Building.

May Day Morning in Abingdon and Oxford

 May Day Morning
Despite a covering of cloud the sun cast mauve colours
 May Day Morning
and then appeared burning bronze on May Day in Abingdon – seen here near Abingdon Lock.
 May Day Morning
The May Day celebrations in Oxford were without the Abingdon Morris Dancers, but some of their members were there with the Oxford teams.
 May Day Morning
The Oxford Morris are led on May Day morning by Jack-in-the-Green, who appears only on May Morning after the Magdalen College Choir sing from the tower.