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The Stations of the SunA History of the Ritual Year in Britain$
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Ronald Hutton

Print publication date: 1996

Print ISBN-13: 9780198205708

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198205708.001.0001

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Rites of Hospitality and Charity

Rites of Hospitality and Charity

Chapter:
(p.54) 6 Rites of Hospitality and Charity
Source:
The Stations of the Sun
Author(s):

Ronald Hutton

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198205708.003.0006

The expectation that resident landowners would entertain tenants and guests from the neighbourhood continued right up until the later nineteenth century, when the decline of Britain's agriculture and increasing rural depopulation put paid to the old social and economic relationships of the countryside. For some time before then, however, the scale of entertainment had probably been decreasing with the diminishing size of gentry households, and the increasing commercialization of labour services: a story much better illustrated in the case of harvest suppers. Echoes of the traditional festive obligations are occasionally found in the mid-nineteenth century, such as the case of the farmer in 1847 who made sure to entertain all his labourers ‘as usual’ to a dinner of goose and plum pudding on Christmas Day with plenty of cider. The folklore collections are much more useful for certain related practices. One was the development, and public endorsement, of early winter celebrations related to particular trades and crafts.

Keywords:   landowners, tenants, Britain, agriculture, countryside, gentry, harvest suppers, folklore, trades, crafts

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