Wroth Silver

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Early in the morning of 11 November (St Martin's Day), representatives of various Warwickshire parishes—along with a large crowd of onlookers—gather on Knight-low Hill to pay money, or Wroth Silver, to the agent of the Duke of Buccleuch, Lord of the Hundred of Knightlow. As each person is called, they step forward and throw their money into a square hollow stone, which was previously the base of a stone cross, saying ‘wroth silver’. In much earlier days they were required to walk round the stone first. Having paid their dues, which only takes a few minutes, the company then set off to the Dun Cow where they all sit down to breakfast. Nowadays, the breakfast is by ticket only (the collected Wroth Silver usually amounts to less than 50p), and includes a glass of hot milk and rum which is traditional to the occasion. Defaulters could be fined £1 for every penny owed, or the Duke could demand from them a ‘White bull, with red nose and ears of the same colour’. The ceremony is clearly a relic of the payment of dues or rents to the Lord of the Manor, although the exact nature of the rights or privileges paid for is not known. As several neighbouring parishes are liable for payment, it is likely that the fees were for access or movement by locals and their cattle over the Duke's land. The name Wroth is of unknown meaning, and is not unique to this custom. There was, for example, Wrather Money, paid by New Forest tenants to their Lords of the Manor.

William Waddilove and David Eadon, Wroth Silver Today: An Ancient Warwickshire Custom (1983);Stone, 1906: 23–4

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