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Covid: Ancient ceremony cancelled for first time in 100 years

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image copyrightDavid Eadon Collection
image captionDozens of people, like the crowds pictured here in 1951, have attended the event since about 1815, Mr Eadon said

Supporters of an ancient ceremony say they are "extremely sorry" it has been cancelled for the first time in a century due to coronavirus.

David Eadon, 82, has not missed the The Wroth Silver ceremony in Warwickshire since 1938, but said he reluctantly accepted it could not go ahead.

The event is derived from the annual tax paid to the lord of the manor, and features in the Domesday Book of 1086.

Now, supporters put 46p in the hollowed out base of an Anglo-Saxon cross.

Crowds of between 70 to 80 people usually walk to a mound on Knightlow Hill, near Rugby, for 06:45 GMT on 11 November each year and the money is collected by the appointed agent of the lord of the manor, the Duke of Buccleuch.

image copyrightDoc Rowe
image captionMr Eadon (l), pictured making one of the annual donations, said he does it "for the love of it"
image copyrightAndrew Robinson
image captionParticipants used to enjoy a drink of hot milk and rum and a smoke on a pipe after the ceremony

They then gather for breakfast in a local pub where they raise a toast of hot milk and rum to the queen and the duke.

"We do it for the love of it. Purely and simply," Mr Eadon, honorary organiser, said.

"We just want to perpetuate an old ceremony that we've grown to love... it's the only one left in England."

Mr Eadon said he believed the money - originally nine shillings and four pence - went towards funding officers, paid for by the crown, to protect the people in the parishes that made up the Hundred of Knightlow.

The payment was compulsory until about 1800 and the fine for non-payment was one pound for every penny not forthcoming, or to provide a white bull with a red nose and ears.

image copyrightDoc Rowe
image captionThe hollowed-out base sits on Knightlow Hill

It then fell into abeyance, but was revived in the area from about 1815 and has been held every year since, Mr Eadon said.

"I first went as a four-year-old in 1938 and my father first went in 1904, and my grandfather attended too.

"Even during two world wars we kept it going - with just six people attending in 1942, four being from my family.

"I'm extremely sorry it can't go ahead... but I have had to accept it can't and I don't want to contravene the law and I want to keep safe myself."

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