Beating of the Bounds
Rogation Sunday and Beating of the Bounds 22nd May | We shall have a service of Holy Communion 11:00, followed by the traditional beating of the bounds of the parish and a lunch/picnic at The Rectory.
Beating the bounds is an annual tradition which dates back to medieval Britain, and is a way of marking the boundary lines of church parishes. At the time, most of the country was divided into parishes, with the clergy and church wardens responsible for the running and upkeep of these areas. Before maps were more commonplace, beating the bounds was a way of re-affirming the territories of each parish, as well as a way to pass the knowledge on from one generation to another.
The map below shows the parish of St. Giles-in-the-Fields.
In practice, beating the bounds involved the clergy and locals walking the boundary of the parish once a year, tapping the boundary markers – stones, gate posts, walls, and trees – with sticks or canes as they passed.
In pre-reformation Britain, this was a ceremonial affair which would have been attended by Lords of the manor, bailiffs, and other local dignitaries.
This year and every year from now we shall mark our parish bounds and pray for all those who live and work within the reach of our parish church.