Thursday, June 09, 2011

The Stamford bull-running

"I am the only Stamford man living who can remember the bull-running in the streets of the town. I can remember my mother showing me the bull and the horses and men and dogs who chased it. She kept the St Peter's Street - the building that was formerly the Chequers Inn at that time and she showed me the bull-running sport from a bedroom window. I was only four years old then, but I can clearly remember it all. The end of St Peter's Street (where it was joined by Rutland Terrace) was blocked by two farm wagons, and I saw the bull come to the end of the street and return again."
So James Fuller Scholes told a newspaper in 1928, just before he died at the age of 94.

For 700 years Stamford celebrated a bull-running festival - along the lines of the one we are familiar with Pamplona - on 13 November every year. Local tradition had it that it had originated in the reign of King John and it was not suppressed until 1839.

My current bedside reading, Martin Smith's Stamford Myths & Legends, suggests that there is another connection between the town and bulls. He suggests that the figure of a bull can be laid out in the town' streets, along the lines of the Glastonbury Zodiac.

But here I suspect he is not recording Stamford folklore so much as inventing it for satirical purposes.

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