Whittlesford village customs

Valentines Day, Shrove Tuesday, the village stocks and the village mangle

Enid Porter's notebook: page about Whittlesford
Original notebook held by the Museum of Cambridge

Valentines Day 1862

On Valentine’s Day it was the custom for Whittlesford children to go to the houses of farmers and others, to ask for gifts and to sing:-

Good morning Valentine, curl your locks as I do mine
Two in front & two behind, good morning Valentine.

This was always done at the back of the Old Rectory House.


There were stocks and a pound on the village green in olden days but they have been cleared away for many years. The last public use made of them was in 1818 when three youths were ordered by the magistrates to be flogged with the cat o’ nine tails by the village constable, the flogging to be continued until blood was drawn. This sentence was duly carried out. The youths were found guilty of ill-treating an old man in the village, in a barn.

Camping close

Close of pasture land on the W. side of the turnpike road called North Road adjoining the old farm house where once lived the Woolley family.

Shrove Tuesday

An old village custom, discontinued for many years, was the celebration of Shrove Tuesday. Children met in Camping Close to play games such as “Thread the Needle” or “Pig in the Gutter.” Whilst playing the latter game they sang:

“Open your eye, open your eye,
Let the King & me come by”


When the last load of corn was taken from the field to the farmer at the end of harvest, it was time of great excitement. The villagers gathered on the side of the road, waving and shouting as the “horkey” load went by. A picture shows the last load, gaily decorated with flags, going to Parsonage Farm in 1866.

Village mangle

A Mrs Brooks had a mangle and allowed villagers to take their laundry to be mangled, charging them 1d.


Dancing by the villagers took place on Pound? Green outside the “Waggon and Horses” at Whittlesford feast. Fiddlers came in from neighbouring villages to provide the music. Boxing also took place outside the “Gentle Shepherd.” The feast is now practically an event of the past.

Creek’s heaven

A barn standing on a piece of ground at the junction of the Cambridge to Newton Road. Old xxx keeps “the Exhibition” and was the only man in the village who could read a newspaper. He used to take beer to the barn every Sunday morning, & here the village men met to have the news read to them & drink their beer.

See also