Cottagers in Armscote and the neighbouring villages generally reckon to plant potatoes on Good Friday.
A hot-cross-bun put over the door, and kept till the next Good Friday, is supposed to ward off evil for the year.
On May Day the children at Armscote and in nearly all the neighbouring villages still go round with a May Garland — i.e. a pole dressed with flowers and ribbons. There is always a Queen, with lords and ladies.
In Shipston-on-Stour, a small market town in Worcestershire, as lately as forty years ago there was a May Day dance of the trades — sweeps, hatters, tailors and haberdashers took part, a Jack in the Green was carried round, and there was dancing. When they had passed through the town they used to travel round the country for a week, taking with them a rough platform on which they used to dance.
In the district of Shipston-on-Stour the Hiring Fairs took place in the autumn ; that at Shipston on the first Saturday before Old Michaelmas Day ; Stow-on-the-Wold the first Thursday before, and that at Chipping Norton the first Wednesday before. There were three Mops, or hiring fairs, at intervals of a week, the third being called the Run-away Mop, where men and maids who had run away from places taken at the first Mop might be hired. If they ran away after that they might be put in prison by their masters. Besides these hiring fairs in Stratford, Shipston and other places there was also a Michaelmas fair, the Bull-roast ; this is still kept up, and an ox roasted whole in the street.
I have been told by people in Shipston-on-Stour, Armscote, Darlingscote, and many other villages in the neighbourhood, that whatever quarter the wind is in at midnight on St. Clement's Day, that will be the prevailing wind till Candlemas.
Up to thirty years ago, in many villages near Armscote, and to this day in Todenham, Gloucestershire, on St. Thomas' Day, the children go from house to house, and receive money, cakes, and sweets. M. L. Stanton.
At Cradley, on Shrove Tuesday, the children of the National Schools assemble at the church at twelve noon, and joining their hands together, the sacred edifice is encircled. For over