Rye hot pennies

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A scrambling custom which still takes place on 23 May, as part of the annual mayor-making ceremony in Rye (East Sussex). Immediately after the new Mayor's election, he/she appears at a window of the Town Hall and throws hot new pennies to the waiting crowd of children and adults. Rye is not unique in including a scrambling element in a civic custom and the two local stories which seek to explain it are also found elsewhere. One is that at one time the Mayor of Rye was also a Member of Parliament and sought to bribe voters, while the other explains that when Rye had the privilege of its own mint, the town ran out of pennies and that they were brought so fast that they were still hot.

Simpson, 1973: 119;Howard, 1964: 112.

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