Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 22, 1911.djvu/53

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39
Presidential Address.

woodland hermit saints of France, are among those who came in with the Norman Conquest. St. Nicholas of Myra, St. George of Cappadocia, St. Margaret of Antioch, St. Katharine of Alexandria, and others, bear witness to the influence of the Crusades. Dedications to the Holy Trinity are not older than the twelfth century, when the festival of Trinity Sunday was first instituted. Before that, Whitsunday had governed the Calendar to the end of the ecclesiastical year. Sometimes part of the fabric of a church suggests an older date than the dedication. This is likely to be due to re-consecration after alterations, a ceremony which was held to be necessary if the site of the high altar were changed. When this occurred, the original patron saint was sometimes deserted for one more popular at the time of the rebuilding.

The following cases will suffice to exemplify the manner of the distribution and growth of the devotion to the saints. The church of the immense mother-parish of Stoke-on-Trent (Staffordshire), mentioned in Domesday Book, is dedicated to St. Peter. It is situated on the river-side, where doubtless the ancient stockade from which the place appears to take its name once guarded the passage of the Trent, and which would obviously be a convenient centre for missionary labours. High above it, on the hill-sides, stand the daughter-churches, St. Margaret of Wolstanton and St. Giles of Newcastle-under-Lyme,—(i.e. "under" Lyme Forest). The other churches of the Five Towns are more or less modern. I was lately told"[1] of the parallel case of South Stoke in Oxfordshire on the banks of the Thames, with the little daughter-church, or rather chapelry, of Woodcote, on the uplands of the old Chiltern Forest, four miles away. South Stoke is dedicated to St. Andrew, the fisherman, "the first missionary," brother of St. Peter,—Woodcote, to St. Leonard. A long straight trackway across the common, (unenclosed down to 1853), connects the one with the other. It is called the burying-way, for there is no right of burial at Woodcote, though there is a churchyard. (In this connection was mentioned the common popular belief that the passage of a funeral procession confers a right-of-way for ever after.) Within the memory of the present generation a great fair for sheep and cattle

  1. By Mr. E. H. Binney, of Oxford, from information of the Rev. H. G. Nind, Rector of South Stoke with Woodcote and himself a native of the place.