Beating the Bounds


May 4th 1997 is Rogation Sunday, the Sunday before Ascension Day, on which traditionally Christians pray for the communities in which they live.

The word "rogation" comes from the Latin word for asking - so Rogation Days are "asking days", a time traditionally for asking God's blessing on the seeds which have just been sown in the Spring. The Church of England developed the custom, many years ago, of Beating the Bounds at this time. The congregation, led by the clergy and choir, walked round the boundaries of the parish beating the walls and hedges with sticks, seeing what repairs were needed. Apparently unruly choirboys also got beaten as part of the ceremony. As they walked, the people asked God's blessing on the land where they lived and worked, that the seeds which they had recently sown might grow and flourish. ("We plough the fields and scatter" is strictly a Rogationtide rather than a Harvest hymn.)

Not much in the way of corn or wheat is planted within the Parish of St Peter and St. James, but this needn't stop us from following the custom. Why should the countryside have all the fun?

As we beat the bounds we will dispense with robed processions - and beating rods! But all members of the congregation and residents of The Park are invited to join us on 4th May - to enjoy a walk around the bounds of the "old" Town Centre parish, and the "new" Park area of the parish. The afternoon will end at the Church with tea and a short Service of Thanksgiving - an opportunity to ask blessing on our particular place where we live, work and worship.

Eileen McLean

Eileen considers boundaries further in her sermon on the subject.


About thirty people had a great time walking the Parish boundaries on Sunday 4th May. Despite the morning rains the afternoon was warm and sunny. I arrived with an anorak and Joyce borrowed a bucket to house wet brollies. These insurance policies secured fine weather.

Various adults, five little girls and Cassie (Gillian's dog) met at the Castle to set off up Standard Hill. We benefitted from Daphne's local knowledge, who recalls attending Sunday School at St James's and was able to show us where the church used to stand, in Evershed's car park!

Through the revitalised General Hospital site and into town. A stop to appreciate Bromley House (a Georgian building housing the subscription library, Barnardo's shop now on the ground floor). Then up Derby Road and into the Tunnel. This is the domain of pigeons, best visited on sunny Sunday afternoons. Susie advised Marjorie and Pippa that this was not a suitable short-cut home from discos when the time comes for them!

Out into brilliant sunshine, past the tennis courts. In the Tennis Club fence there is a curious memorial to a tree allegedly felled by Gladstone in fifty minutes when he was sixty. Excellent views of the Castle and the profile of the elegant houses on Park Terrace. By then we were hot and bothered, having walked uphill for some time. Tea at Joyce's was very welcome.

A lovely stroll downhill through Lincoln and Newcastle Circuses and Lenton Avenue. This road takes you through the tradesmen's entrances. The backs of the fine houses are on the left, and the stables, kitchen gardens and servants' houses are on the right. These are now converted (or newly built, like mine).

We cut through to Castle Boulevard, over the road bridge to the Baltimore Diner, and down to the Canal. A splendid treat here. Nigel and Alison had brought their houseboat up to the Marina to give us a lift. I've never been on a canal boat before (only a Jazz Boat type). Others must have been similarly ignorant because all were fascinated by the children's quarters, the real kitchen, the traditional tiles and the old-fashioned stove in the corner of the living area. At the lock, most disembarked and admired Alison and Nigel's skills negotiating it, using muscle provided by David and Susie. Cassie sat on the roof throughout - a philosophical dog.

A little stroll along the towpath. The Magistrate's Court is a splendid building and you can't see it from anywhere else. The Inland Revenue headquarters, now apparently regarded as a "sick building" is stunning nonetheless. Back to reality in Carrington Street - seedy! Then beside the old railway arches. There is a column studded with busts of various "greats". No-one could explain why Shakespeare, Rhodes, Rabbie Burns, Livingstone, Nelson etc. should be immortalised here. I wondered if they were rescued from the old Victoria Station. Does anyone know?

We walked from this skate-boarder's paradise up into the little park next to the Lace Hall. Garner's Hill was where the last public execution took place. It is still depressing, as the winos on the bench could testify. From here it was an easy stroll to the Queen Vic and down Byard Lane to St Peter's. More very welcome tea brewed by Barbara and John.

A simple service followed. Eileen asked us to reflect on the faces of the City we had seen, the contrasts between commerce, opulent living, workplaces, destitution, recreation. The service was punctuated by the youngest girls' giggles. Thanks to Ian who played the organ for his first service at St Peter's. The purpose was achieved. We saw the City in all its glory - and its down-side as well. Our good fellowship made it a very happy afternoon,but with food for thought.

Hilary Evans


One thing which puzzled the party was a column near the old railway arches between the Crown Court and Garners Hill Park. This is studded with busts - Shakespeare, Livingstone, Nelson, etc. Needless to say, one of our readers has the answer! Geoffrey Oldfield supplied this information via Hilda Young:

They came from a shop at the corner of Broad Marsh and Carrington Street, which was demolished as part of the site of the Broad Marsh Centre. The shop, 1/5 Carrington Street, was one of several in Nottingham owned by J. Montague Burton Ltd., tailors. All the shops were similar in appearance, faced with white stone. The Carrington Street shop had the busts, which were removed and re-erected just below the eaves. There is unfortunately no record as to who decided which men were to be commemorated in this way.

Thank you, Mr. Oldfield. You mention other shops owned by Montague Burton. I fancy one is now Emmanuel House, and another is still in service as a clothing store on the corner of Friar Lane, overlooking Slab Square. A wicked thought occurs about the luminaries immortalised above the shop front - could Monty have been trying to suggest that they patronised the "fifty bob tailors"?
St Peter's Church, Nottingham
Last revised 5th July 1997