33rd Straw Bear Whittlesey

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33rd Straw Bear Whittlesey
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Mick Huett
by Mick Huett from Whittlesey GB on 19 Jan 2012
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In Whittlesea, from when no one quite knows, it was the custom on the Tuesday following Plough Monday (the 1st Monday after Twelfth Night) to dress one of the confraternity of the plough in straw and call him a 'Straw Bear'. A newspaper of 1882 reports that "... he was then taken around the town to entertain by his frantic and clumsy gestures the good folk who had on the previous day subscribed to the rustics, a spread of beer, tobacco and beef".

The tradition fell into decline at the end of the 19th century, the last sighting being in 1909 as it appears that an over-zealous police inspector had forbidden 'Straw Bears' as a form of cadging.

Revival

The custom was revived in 1980 by the Whittlesea Society, and for the first time in seventy years a 'Straw Bear' was seen on the streets accompanied by his attendant keeper, musicians and dancers, about 30 in all. Various public houses were visited around the town as convenient places for the 'Bear' and dancers to perform in front of an audience - with much needed refreshment available.

1 comment


Mick Huett
Mick Huett posted 2012-02-04 3:41pm

jinabird

No need for nasty comments, I look foreward to your professional photos of the Straw bear!

Mick

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