taken from 'NORTH COUNTRY SPORTS AND PASTIMES' published in 1893

bidden weddings


Suspend for one Day all your cares and your labours, And come to this Wedding, kind friends and good Neighbours. NOTICE is HEREBY GIVEN, That the Marriage of Isaac Pearson with Frances Atkinson, will be solemnized in due form in the Parish Church of Lamplugh, on Monday next, the 3oth of May, instant immediately after which the Bride and Bridegroom, with their attendants, will proceed to Lonefoot, in the said Parish, where the Nuptials will be celebrated by a variety of Rural entertainments.

Then come one and all, At Hymen's soft call,

From Whitehaven, Workington, Harrington, Dean,

Haile, Ponsonby, Blaing, and all places between ;

From Egremont, Cockermouth, Parton, Saint Bees,

Dint, Kinneyside, Calder, and parts joining these ;

And the country at large may flock if they please.

Such sports there will be as have seldom been seen

Such Wrestling, and Fencing, and Dancing between ;

And Races for Prizes, and Frolic and Fun,

By Horses, by Asses, and Dogs will be run :

And you'll all go home happy as sure as a gun.

In a word such a Wedding can ne'er fail to please,

For the Sports of Olympus were trifles to these.

Nota Bene You'll please to observe that the Day

Of this grand Bridal Pomp is the thirtieth of May ;

When 'tis hop'd that the sun to enliven the sight,

Like the Flambeau of Hymen, will deign to burn bright.

Lamplugh, May 2Oth, 1786.


The next one which we shall quote, contents itself with a plain prose description of the various attractions.

Richard and Ann Allason present their compliments to their Friends and the Public in general, and beg leave to inform them that they intend to have a BRIDEWAIN at Southwaite, in the Parish of Brigham, on Thursday, the 25th day of May, instant. There will be the following Sports such as Horse Races, Dog Races, Wrestling, Jumping, and Foot Races, &c., &c., &c., and various other amusements too tedious to mention, to entertain them ; and they will think themselves happy with their attendance. (Southwaite, 1st May, 1809)


The last Bridewain notice we shall give celebrates the marriage of Henry and Sarah Robinson of High Lorton, near Cockermouth, on June 6th, 1811. This advertisement flows into sprightly verse as follows :

'Tis Love, immortal Power ! gives birth

To healthful Sports and Sprightliest Mirth.

Awhile your Drudgery and Pains

Forego, ye jocund Nymphs and Swains.

We think it only Right to acquaint ye,

That each sort may get Sweethearts plenty !

For those who Pastime love and Fun,

We've Horses, Dogs, and Men to Run ;

Athletic Sports we'll set before ye,

And Heats renown 'd in Ancient Story ;

Leaping and Wrestling for the Strong,

Enough to please you Come Along!

Professor Wilson himself a proficient in the noble pastime, and whose great literary attainments assisted materially to elevate Blackwood's Magazine to the proud eminence it attained in his time, pays in its pages the following eloquent tribute to Wrestling, which was, in his younger days, the principal athletic exercise in the North of England. It is impossible to conceive the intense and passionate interest taken by the whole northern population in this most rural and muscular amusement. For weeks before the great Carlisle annual contest, nothing else is talked of on road, field, flood, foot or horseback ; we fear it is thought of even in church, which we regret and condemn ; and in every little comfortable public within a circle of thirty miles diameter, the home-brewed quivers in the glasses on the oaken tables to knuckles smiting the boards in corroboration of the claims to the championship of Grahame, a Cass, a Laughlin, Solid Yak, a Wilson, or a Weightman. A political friend of ours a staunch fellow in passing through the lakes last autumn, heard of nothing but the contest for the county, which he had understood would be between Lord Lowther (the sitting member) and Mr. Brougham. But to his sore perplexity, he heard the claims of new candidates, to him hitherto unknown ; and on meeting us at that best of inns, the White Lion, Bowness, he told us with a downcast and serious countenance that Lord Lowther would be ousted, for that the struggle, as far as he could learn, would ultimately be between Thomas Ford of Egremont, and William Richardson of Caldbeck, men of no landed property, and probably Radicals.

‘ It is, in our opinion, and according to our taste, not easy, to the most poetical and picturesque imagination, to create for itself a more beautiful sight than the ring at Carlisle Fifteen thousand people, perhaps, are there, all gazing anxiously on the candidates for the county. Down goes Cass, Weightman is the standing member ; and the agitation of a thousand passions, a suppressed shudder and an under-growl, moves the mighty multitude like an earthquake. No savage anger, no boiling rage of ruined blacklegs, no leering laughter of mercenary swells sights and sounds which we must confess do sicken the sense at Newmarket and Moulsey but the visible and audible movements of calm, strong, temperate English hearts, free from all fear of ferocity, and swayed for a few moments of sublime pathos by the power of nature working in victory or defeat'.

We may be allowed to supplement the foregoing with a remark, that there are two things which natives of the Lake Country, and the rural parts of Cumberland and Westmorland, who have migrated southwards, often in their absence sigh for. The one is "a good stiff clim' amang t' fells;" and the other, "a snug seat aroond some russlin' ring."