Usually the first Saturday in July
RUSHBEARING – This is a festival celebration associated with the ancient custom of annually replacing the rushes on the earth floors of churches, rushes being a general term for rushes, reeds and sweet smelling grasses. Once widespread, very few places now continue this tradition. Although the church plays a leading role, today Rushbearing is a community event. The bearings vary from large ornate devices such as hoops, staves and crosses to simple sheafs carried by children. Composed mainly of rushes cut from nearby lake shores, they are highly decorated with mosses, flowers and greenery.
THE PROCESSION – Large Church bearings, small church bearings, nursery and primary school children and clergy from all denominations set off, accompanied by Burneside Brass Band, at 2.30pm from the Primary School in Vicarage Road. The procession continues up Compston Road and turns left at the top of the road, past the Bridge House and right up Smithy Brow – past the Golden Rule. Turning right into North Road the Procession stops for a few minutes while the police allow the traffic which has been held up to go through the village. Setting off again the Procession continues through the streets to the Market Place. At this point everyone stops and raises their bearings – a great photo opportunity for the many on-lookers. The traditional Rushbearing Hymn (written in 1835 by the Revd Owen Lloyd) is then sung and the Procession continues down Church Street to St. Mary’s Church, arriving at about 3.15pm.
It is advisable for visitors trying to travel through Ambleside on that day to avoid the village between 2.30pm. and 3.30pm. Why not come earlier and stay and watch?
THE CHURCH SERVICE – on arrival at St. Mary’s the bearings are displayed around the church, where they remain throughout the services the following day. A short service of worship is held as the glory of God’s creation is celebrated and thanks are given for the beauty and fruitfulness all around us. All participants are given a piece of delicious gingerbread on the way out of Church and then they collect a tea of sausage roll, crisps, biscuit, drink and an apple. Energy levels suitably topped up families then make their way down to the School Playing field.
THE SPORTS – a traditional children’s sports afternoon organised by Ambleside’s wonderful Fire Brigade and their families. All the usual races – flat and novelty – for each age group. Prizes for all the Infants and Vouchers from local shops for the 1st, 2nd and 3rd in the Junior Races.
THE FELL RACE – the highlight of the Sports. This is Ambleside’s only Junior Fell Race now and the youngsters are justifyably proud of their times, racing up and down Todd Crag. Come and join the crowd cheering them back into the park. It is a sight for sore eyes!
THE PREPARATION – on the Monday before the Rushbearing the Church Bearings are all covered with damp moss. This is a messy job, only made fun by the fact that a group of people get together and do it among chat and laughter. To help with the mossing, or dressing the Bearings on Saturday morning or to carry a bearing please ring Judith Shingler on 015394 34640