Beating the Bounds of the Parish of All Hallows

“Beating the Bounds” is an ancient but still practised annual custom, dating back to Medieval times, during which parishes re-affirm their boundaries, at Rogationtide, by processing round them and stopping and beating  each boundary mark with wands.

The City church of All Hallows-by-the-Tower beat its bounds today,  Ascension Day (29th May 2014).  The  “Beating Party” was made up of students from St Dunstan’s School in Catford, returning to their roots in the parish of St Dunstan-in-the-East to take part in the proceedings.

THAT'S a stick

THAT’S a stick

The beating party makes its way aboard the Royal Nore

The beating party makes its way aboard the Royal Nore

The party, accompanied by the Clergy from All Hallows, and the Masters of the Livery Companies associated with the church, first boarded the “Royal Nore”  to beat the southern boundary mark, in the middle of the Thames!

Beating the bound in the middle of the river

Beating the bound in the middle of the river

The Beating Party of Tower Pier

The Beating Party on Tower Pier

They then returned to dry land, and processed round the remainder of the boundary of the parish, beating the remaining boundary marks – at Custom House, St Dunstan-in-the-East, Plantation House and Knolly’s House – as they went, before returning to the church for a service of Festal Evensong in the presence of the Lord Mayor and Sheriffs.

The beating party on Tower Pier (2)

The beating party on Tower Pier (2)

The beating party on St Dunstan's Hill

The beating party on St Dunstan’s Hill

Finally, they took part in a “Boundary Dispute Ceremony” with the Resident Governor and Yeoman Warders of HM Tower of London, as they do every third year, in commemoration of an occasion in 1698 when an actual  fight broke out between the people of the parish and those of the Tower over a long-standing boundary dispute.  As one historical account put it:

“On this occasion the warders used their halberds to some purpose, and several parishioners were seriously injured”.

The mock-confronattion with the inhabitants of the Tower

The mock-confrontation with the inhabitants of the Tower

All Hallows by the Tower is  visited, although not generally entered, on our “London Wall” and “Tower to Temple” standard walk, and on our “Lost City Highlights”, “Dark Age London” and “Tudor and Stuart London” themed special.

Further details of all our walks are available in the “Our Guided Walks” section of our web-site.

Bookings may be made through the “Contact/Booking” section of the web-site, by e-mail (lostcityoflondon@sky.com), or by phone (020-8998-3051).

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