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Lake District Hotel in Grasmere - Bridge House Hotel - Rushbearing

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Grasmere's famous Rushbearing Ceremony has ancient origins. The present day ceremony is an annual Grasmere event featuring a procession through the village with bearings made from rushes and flowers. The procession features six Maids of Honour, a brass band, the church choir, and everyone who wishes to join in by carrying their own decorated rushbearing. Then there is a service in St Oswald's Church where the floor is scattered with rushes, and all the bearings are placed around every part of the building. After the service everyone heads for Grasmere School grounds where local gingerbread is served. Games & sports take place on the school field including fell racing and the inevitable children's sack race.

Click the photograph below for a 360 panorama of St Oswald's Church decorated with Rushbearings.

Lake District 360 Panorama - Scroll from right to left for best results

St Oswald's Church Grasmere 360

Rushes or "grise" were scattered on the floors of churches throughout England from ancient times. In those days the floors were simply earth and the carpet of rushes was regularly topped up. There were people buried beneath the church floor and the carpet of rushes helped to purify the air for worshippers! St Oswald's Church kept its earthen floor right through until 1841 and parishioners were still being buried beneath the floor up until 1823. The first written mention of the Grasmere Rushbearing dates from 1680, but this tradition dates back much further than that. Some historians think that it may have Roman origins, and others say that it pre-dates even the Romans.


Grasmere Rushbearing - decorating the Church - late 19th Century drawing

The Bearings themselves are wrapped in rushes and adorned with flowers. They are all different shapes to signify associations with Grasmere and St Oswald. Oswald was a Christian King of Cumbria in the Dark Ages and he died in battle in A.D.642 - a bearing at Grasmere's Rushbearing ceremony shows his name and this date as a result. One of the banners declares in Latin "Levavi Oculos" - "I lift up my eyes" (to the hills!) Psalm 121. Another says "Hope Rules a Land For Ever Green" - highly appropriate for England's Lake District.

After all these years Grasmere's Rushbearing remains a real Village Event, and it attracts crowds of curious onlookers who are amazed by these strange practices. This is just the kind of thing that could make your next visit to the Lake District a little bit special. Come and see for yourself!

The above photograph of Grasmere Rushbearing was sent to us in recent years. It shows that the tradition has not altered a great deal as the generations have passed. The maidens and bearings appear to be just like those of current times!
If you want to know more about the history of Grasmere and the Lake District click here.


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