Randwick Cheese-Rolling and Wap

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Randwick, Gloucestershire, had two, probably unrelated, calendar customs of note. The cheese-rolling was described in a letter, dated April 1827, published in William Hone's Table Book, which related that every May Day three large Gloucester cheeses were decked with flowers and carried on litters in procession through the town, and were then rolled around the church before being cut up and distributed. This custom has been revived, following closely the old description, but with only one cheese being distributed and the other two set aside for rolling at the start of Randwick Wap. The term ‘Wap’ has not been satisfactorily explained, but it is the name for the local revel or feast, which was held on the second Monday after Easter, and it perhaps pertains to the weaving trade which was the mainstay of the village economy. The celebrations included a mock mayor ceremony, first mentioned in 1703, and suppressed about 1892 because of the drunkenness it encouraged. It was revived in 1972, along with other celebrations of the new Randwick Wap (see Briggs).

Hone, 1827: i. 277;Hartland, 1895: 33–7;Wright and Lones, 1936: i. 128–9;Gomme, 1883: 228–30 (reprinting pieces from 1794);Kightly, 1986: 71, 166–7;Briggs, 1974: 184–6.

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