Conisborough at Easter Time

April 1901

Mexborough and Swinton Times April 14.

Conisborough at Easter time.

Those who know Conisborough well would certainly not choose to visit it at Easter time, if the visit were to be the only one of the year. They would wait until nearer Midsummer or better still, until early autumn. But by some unaccountable freak Good Friday is considered by many people to be the best of all days on which to go to Conisborough. The wooded cliffs at this time still “bare ruined choirs where late the sweet bird sang,” and the country has not yet recovered from the blight of winter; but there are other attractions that may suit the multitude.

For many years travelling showman found a “pitch” here at Eastertide, so that if nature, charms not the young people they may improve the shining hour by aiming at “milky” cocoanuts with wooden balls. If the mind of the visitor is so that he can conjure up in imagination. The local scenes of former years, he may, for the small sum of one penny gaze upon the quivering pictures of the biograph, depicting the latest football Cup tie or the arrival and departure of a railway train.

This is an age of education.

One cannot help but speculate on what would happen supposing some of the old monks that once trod the roads of Conisborough, on their way to and from the Castle were to reappear and passed by the modern Good Friday Vanity fair. Would the labouring classes stand aside and reverently doff their caps as the old men went on their way? Would any elderly man or woman followed behind beseeching a blessing? No.

The monks would be lucky if they escaped an attack with grass sods and other disagreeable missiles. The youth of this neighbourhood would not let such an opportunity pass. One can almost hear them shouting one to another, “Hey up kid sithee yonder? And one can almost see the first shot strike the bald pate of some worthy friar. Grammercy! The thought pleases me not

The contrast between the gatherings at Conisborough hundreds of years ago and the modern holiday crowds is very great. The lower order are no longer feudal vassals and serfs. The Lord of the Castle does not now possess the power of life and death over those who, for the time being live on his estate. The people are free to travel where they choose in cheap excursion trains, while the modern Lord and Lady of the Castle are most likely making preparations for a summer stay in the South of Europe, or some other equally delectable country.

In the olden time anyone caught committing wilful damage to the property would most likely have been seized and thrown into the castle dungeon, there to starve and rocked for long weary months; today, such offenders are taken to the Doncaster West Riding court and fined so many shillings and costs.

In the matter of food & drink one is rather inclined to think that our ancestors, even the serfs – and I suppose some of us are descended from serfs – were better off than the modern holiday crowd. The fare of those who sat at the table of theThane was rough maybe, but it was substantial, and even the serf who was placed farthest below the salt got his fill.

The ale was good, and there was plenty of it.

The humblest servant of Athelstane would have laughed with bitter scorn had he been offered ham sandwiches, boiled cockles, raw mussels, tripe, and cowheel, ice cream, chewing gum, and monkey nuts, which form the staple food of the trippers of our day.

Our ancestors would not content with a couple of cold, hard boiled eggs, two pieces of toast, and two pennyworth of “hot water for tea.” They wanted something to eat.

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