Today is Rogation Sunday. It is also exactly 100 years since Reve. Reeve led a rogation walk round the parish boundary of Stondon Massey.
Five weeks after Easter is the ancient celebration of Rogationtide when the fields are blessed within the parish boundary in the hope of a good harvest.
At that time of year the Annual Perambulation (or ‘beating the bounds’) was held. It marked the area of the parish and declared the territory which was subject to tithing to the Rector. This custom continued until about 1834 when it was superseded by the Tithe-Rent-Charge Map. The payment of tithes ceased in 1936.
In May 1909 Revd. Reeve, the Rector of Stondon Massey and a keen local historian, decided to re-enact this event using the perambulation of 1828. “I myself was still in good health”, he wrote, “and in possession of perhaps an unusual store of minute and local information: our new lord of the manor, Mr Herman J Meyer, has just succeeded to his responsibilities and was anxious to see what he could of the Parish, and a number of Parishioners were willing to give up the day to accompany us”.
The party assembled at Stondon Place at 10am. “The round was, of course, taken at a leisurely pace, as we wanted if possible to identify all the old land marks. We did not think it necessary, as no legal issues were involved, to beat literally every corner and to crawl along brambly ditches or brave the Roding’s flood; but we took care to go so near to every boundary as to satisfy ourselves of it. We probably walked about seven miles in accomplishing the round.
“The Ancient Religious aspect of the Perambulation was observed in a short service of a few special Prayers and Collects held before luncheon at Woolmonger’s Farm”.
Reeve tells of the capital luncheon provided by Mr Brace and the loyal toasts given to the lord of the Manor and himself.
“It was many times remarked that a suitable time was this of Rogationtide for a Perambulation, the country was looking at its best, and yet the crops not being sufficiently advanced to impede progress”.