Gloucester Bishop Rachel joins in the dance at St Briavels

By George Henderson in Events

THE Bishop of Gloucester, the Rt Rev Rachel Treweek got her ‘Bonny Green Garters’ in a twist when she gave the blessing at the annual St Briavels Bread and Cheese Dole.

After blessing the bread and cheese, as part of the traditional Whittington Purse sermon, which is thrown from the ramparts of the castle, she joined the Forest of Dean Morris Men in their traditional ‘Bonny Green Garters’ dance.

Ian Riddell, the group’s spokesman said: “The Bonny Green Garters’ is a traditional dance that we usually finish with and invite members of the audience to join in.

“The bishop had been there to bless the bread and cheese and reflected on the tragedies in London and Manchester following which she volunteered to join us. Bishop Rachel was a really good sport.

“The event was held on late afternoon on Sunday when the sun came out after we had heavy rain in the morning.”

The Bread and Cheese Dole is a Whit Sunday ceremony dating form the 12th Century, in which bread and cheese is thrown from the wall of the castle to local ’Dole Claimers’ dressed in Mediaeval costume.

’Dole claimers’ could be anyone who paid a penny to the incumbent Earl of Hereford entitling them to gather firewood from the nearby Hudnalls wood.

Some believe in the power of these edible morsels and preserve them for good luck and miners originally used them as charms to protect against accidents underground.

Today some people choose to place them in matchboxes and rest them under their pillow to inspire dreams of the future.

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