Tichborne Dole

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An annual dole of flour distributed to the parishioners of Tichborne, Cheriton, and Lane End, Hampshire, on Lady Day (25 March). The accompanying legend relates that in the 12th century one Lady Mabella, wife of Sir Henry de Tichborne, was much loved by the local people for her charity and kindness. When she was dying, she asked her husband to dedicate some land to support a charity for the poor in her name. His reply was to pull a burning brand from the fire and say that she could have as much land as she could walk round, carrying the torch, before it went out. As ill as she was, she still managed to crawl around 23 acres of land, before the fire petered out—the husband's reaction is not recorded in this version. Her actions not only secured the charity, but also prompted the name ‘the Crawls’ by which those acres are still known. Lady Mabella was also sufficiently cautious to lay a curse on Sir Henry, and his heirs, if they ever interfered with the charity. The real origin of the charity is not known. Nowadays, flour made from wheat grown on the Crawls is distributed on the steps of the church, after a short open-air service. A gallon of flour is given to adults, and half a gallon to children.

Sykes, 1977: 36;Shuel, 1985: 127–8;Kightly, 1986: 218–19;Nicholas James, L&L 6:1 (1987), 59–64.

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