Stories of the people, the place and the areas surrounding Formby. Formby is a coastal town with a beautiful beach, fabulous sand dunes, pine woods, red squirrels all managed by the National Trust. The town boasts an attractive village shopping centre where there's much to see, eat and drink. Because of its popularity, parking close to the beach is limited, often full and large queues form by noon at weekends and bank holidays.
In the past, Halloween was preceded by an earlier tradition, which was known as Souling.
A visiting custom carried out in the 19th and 20th centuries mainly by children, but previously by adults, in the Shropshire, north Staffordshire, Cheshire, and Lancashire area, on All Saints Day (1 November) and All Souls Day (2 November).
The Soulers visited houses, sang a song, and collected money, food, drink, or whatever was given to them. The songs vary somewhat from place to place, but they all follow the same basic pattern:
Soul, soul for a souling cake I pray you, missis, for a souling cake Apple or pear, plum or cherry Anything good to make us merry Up with your kettles and down with your pans Give us an answer and we'll be gone Little Jack, Jack sat on his gate Crying for butter to butter his cake One for St. Peter, two for St. Paul Three for the man that made us all
Shropshire: By-Gones Relating to Wales & the Border Country (1889-1890, 25.3)
You can hear a longer version of this song below, which was recorded in 1965 by The Watersons.
I don't know what you think, but I'd welcome a return of this celebration instead of the highly commercialised Halloween of today.
I'm also pleased to report that there is still an example of the tradition kept alive at The Antrobus Arms, Cheshire.
The old English custom of souling or soulcaking dates back to the 10th Century.
A traditional Cheshire Souling play performed on All Soul’s Eve and the following 2 weekends.
The Antrobus Gang are well established with continuity a distinguishing feature. They are thought to have performed continuously for hundreds of years.
Soulcakers would go from house to house singing a begging song or a plea for prayers for the dead. They would put on a play for residents.
The plays were performed out of necessity when farm work was in short supply. Plays usually consist of a fight between St George and his adversaries resulting in one of the characters being killed and brought back to life by a ‘quack’ doctor. The Hooden Horse accompanies the soulcakers with its groom and a whip.
The Hooden Horse is a man covered with a blanket holding a horses head.
Soulcakes were small spiced fruit cakes similar to Hot Cross Buns and were given to performers as well as drink or money, helping to keep their families fed during lean times. It could be quite lucrative as 3 nights of mumming (acting out the play) often raised as much as month’s wages.
The tradition continues at the Antrobus Arms where money raised now goes to charity.
Pub-goers will be able to enjoy a selection of beers from independent British craft brewers during a 12 day festival at a Formby pub.
The festival is taking place at The Lifeboat in Three Tuns Lane from Wednesday, October 10 to Sunday, October 21 inclusive.
Each of the brewers is a member of SIBA – the organisation that promotes small independent brewers and their beers.
Among the beers on offer are those brewed exclusively for the festival as well as award-winners.
The beers include Blueberry Classic Bitter (Coach House), Jurassic Dark (Dorset), Jemima's Pitchfork (Glamorgan), Freddy Brewger (Robinsons), Hope & Glory (Brentwood), Hop Twister (Salopian), Big Job (St Austell) and Wheel of Fortune (Castle Rock).
In addition, the pub will serve five UK produced ciders.
The ciders include Toffee Apple (Mr Whitehead's), Legbender (Rich's) and Premium Perry (Broadoak).
All beers and ciders are priced at £1.99 a pint.
Customers will be able to sample any three of the real ales or ciders in special third-of-a-pint glasses for the price of a pint.
Pub manager Ashleigh-Jane Briscoe said:
The festival is the perfect opportunity to showcase the wonderful range of beers from independent British craft brewers.
Between 1980 and 1987 I spent some of my most enjoyable moments in public life serving as an elected Councillor member of Sefton Councils Arts and Library committee. Although the Arts weren't considered a front-line public service at the time, and probably, even now, It was the least politically contested function.
The Atkinson was restored by Southport Borough Council in the lead-up to the formation if Sefton in 1974,
In 1875, William Atkinson offered Southport Corporation £6,000 to build an art gallery and library for the town.
William Atkinson was a cotton manufacturer from Knaresborough who frequently visited Southport with his sick wife looking for the refreshing sea air. He eventually moved to Southport and generously donated approximately £40,000 to the town during his lifetime and played an active part in its development.
The architects Waddington & Son of Burnley designed the Atkinson Art Gallery and Library, which opened in 1878.
The Southport Arts Centre as it became known was closed again in 2010 for further refurbishment. Reopening its doors in May 2013.
The Atkinson is Southport’s beautiful new home for music, theatre, art, poetry, literature and history, right in the middle of Lord Street in Southport and just 3 minutes’ walk from Southport train station. Significant investment has been made in refurbishing the stunning 19th-century buildings, to create a really welcoming multi art-form venue with a sturdy contemporary feel.
It offers an exciting and varied destination for families, cultural tourists and art enthusiasts alike, with a full day and night time offer. During the day an opportunity to visit the new shop, that sells gifts and contemporary crafts from regional makers and then relax in the Bakery, choosing from a selection of artisan bread sandwiches, cakes and sharing platters.
Here's the latest short video from The Atkinson inviting families throughout our local area to make use if its facilities