Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 22, 1911.djvu/332

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296 Hampshire Folklore.

in rebuilding houses on land so held the old hearth must be retained or the rights lapse.

//. Influejice of the High Woods.

It will be remembered that Gilbert White, writing of Woolmer Forest, mentions two "bowers, made of the boughs of oaks," which " the keepers renew annually on the feast of St. Barnabas." "This custom " he considered " to be of very rem te antiquity." ^ That it is so seems to me past contro- versy, and it is to be regretted that White did not give further details of the custom before it fell into disuse, for I have never found reference to it in any other book. But Miss Burne, in her Presidential Address last year, spoke of the " bowery " erected for sports at Woodstock, and readers of Miss Mitford's Our Village will recall how in " Bramley Maying" she describes the " May-houses to dance," built of green boughs by the lads and lasses of the neighbouring parishes. Bramley,be it remembered, is the parish adjoining Pamber on the east, and therefore well within the old forest districts. Again, John Duthy mentioned the summer "Maying on the Nithe" at Alresford, on the outskirts of what has been a considerably wooded tract. Unfortunately he was more concerned with bewailing " the clumsy, dull, imitation of an English peasant " as compared with the dancing of those on " the banks of the Loire, or the Garonne," than in recording the local custom beyond the fact that the assembled villagers danced together in festive array, — breeding " a vain and pernicious love of finery," bemoans our author {Sketches of Hampshire, 1839, PP- 1 1 1-2.

There is, however, even more recent evidence of the con- tinuance of such customs at St. Mary Bourne, a village in a deep valley that runs up into the heart of the Downs in the north-west, — that is to say, to Chute Forest. Writing towards the end of the last century, Dr. Stevens, the local

" 7^ke Natural History of Selborne, Letter vii.