Plough Monday

The blessing of a plough in the church

By Peter Greener

To give all those interested in the history of Ashwell something to think about this month I thought it might be good to look at customs relating to a specific time of the year that have been observed in the past or are still going on. There is one such for January but there may be others that I hope will jog memories and bring back thoughts of times gone by when these little rituals seemed important for making the year go around.


The photograph shows the revival, in the 1950s, of the blessing of a plough in the church by Rev Jack Catterick with several local farmers. I hope someone can tell us the names of all the people involved, perhaps even give us a more precise date.


The occasion was ‘Plough Monday’ which is traditionally the first Monday after 12th Night (6th January) and it marked the resumption of agricultural work after the Christmas festivities. Sometimes the blessing was on the previous Sunday. The custom is particularly associated with East Anglia and apart from the blessing of the plough it could involve the parading of the plough around the village accompanied by singing, dancing, dressing up and of course money-raising. The threat was to plough up a garden or doorstep if any were unwilling to contribute.


Did this ever happen to anybody’s property in Ashwell?   Will it ever be revived?

This appeared in the Ashwell Village News January 2018

Photo:Rev Jack Catterick blessing a plough

Rev Jack Catterick blessing a plough

c. 1955

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