The Tudor Society

Ascension Day and Beating the Bounds

Today is Ascension Day, or the Feast of the Ascension, which is celebrated forty days after Easter Sunday and which commemorates the Ascension of Christ into Heaven. You can find out more about it and how it was celebrated in medieval and Tudor times on our Summer Moveable Feasts page.

One of the traditions associated with this time of year is "beating the bounds". As I say on the feasts page: "In Medieval and Tudor times, this was the traditional time for “beating the bounds”. Parishioners would process around the boundaries of the Parish led by the clergy carrying crosses and banners, praying for farms and a good harvest. Not only did it bless the land, but it also reminded people of landmarks and the boundaries of the Parish. Landmarks were impressed upon children’s minds, in particular, by dangling them upside down at a landmark (a stream or a tree, for example) or beating them there, and then rewarding them with a treat.
The tradition of beating the bounds is kept alive in many parishes in the UK today. One example is All Hallows by the Tower, the oldest church in the City of London"

Here is a video about beating the bounds:

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Ascension Day and Beating the Bounds