Ascension Day festivities

beating_the_bounds.jpgAscension Day, which fell on the 13th May this year, is marked at Brasenose College with two long-standing traditions. Firstly, the Beating of the Bounds ceremony passed through Brasenose during the morning of Ascension Day. This rite has its ancient origins in the days before maps were commonplace, when it was important for property owners to establish and maintain the boundaries to their land. A custom developed whereby the bounds of land were periodically walked, and boundary stones struck to ‘mark' these bounds. The boundaries of the parishes of the churches of St. Michael at the Northgate and St. Mary the Virgin (also known as the ‘University Church') pass through Brasenose College and on Ascension Day groups from both parishes visit and mark the boundary stones located on certain walls of the college by marking them with the year in chalk and beating them with willow sticks. It is said that, in days gone by, children would be punished if they were unable to identify parish boundaries, and the beating with sticks tradition evolved from the wish to exact an annual revenge on boundary markers. The brief ceremony was led by our Chaplain, the Reverend Graeme Richardson, and was well-attended by students, staff and visitors. Both church groups are served sweets or cakes in the College.

At lunch time on Ascension Day each year, Brasenose College members are permitted to enter Lincoln College via a connecting door between the two colleges. The door is opened for five minutes and it is the only time during the year that this door is unlocked. Brasenose members are served an ale by Lincoln College, which is traditionally flavoured with ground ivy, handpicked by the Lincoln College butler in local woods, to discourage Brasenose members from taking liberties with the kind hospitality by requesting more than one pint. Opinions on the origin of this tradition vary, but the two most popular explanations are that, centuries ago, either a Brasenose member was pursued by a mob from the town and murdered because Lincoln students refused to open their gates to him, or that a Lincoln member killed a Brasenose man in a duel. Either way, Lincoln College's penitence is gratefully received by Brasenose members and a large number of students took part in this year's event.


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