A Quaint English Market Town Goes Crazy ~ Royal Shrovetide - TheBritishBaker Blog at Allrecipes.com - 268164


A quaint English market town goes crazy ~ Royal Shrovetide 
Feb. 21, 2012 4:14 pm 
Updated: Mar. 21, 2012 6:27 am

The pretty quaint market town of Ashbourne in Derbyshire, England has much history. With little changed since the 18th Century.  It is known as one of Derbyshire’s finest old market towns.  Combining historic buildings and a wealth of high quality shops.  The old cobbled market place, hidden alleys and yards are delightful to explore along with the wide and elegant Church street, which is considered to be the finest street of Georgian buildings in the whole of the county of Derbyshire.

Many important and famous people have coloured the history of Ashbourne including Dr. Samuel Johnson, James Boswell, Prince Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie), Izaak Walton, Thomas Moore and George Eliot. Princess Victoria (later to be Queen Victoria) passed through the town in 1832 and took a ‘comfort break’ at the Green Man hotel.

So I am sure you are picturing a highly civilized part of the country, BUT that is all about to change, for two days a year madness reins in this beautiful part of the country, those quaint little stores get boarded up and any local with an ounce of sense go into hiding because of SHROVETIDE ~ a two day game of football played through the streets of the town.

The game is played every Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday and consists of two teams. The two teams that play the game are known as the Up'Ards and the Down'Ards (My family were actually the Down’ards). Up'Ards traditionally are those town members born north of Henmore Brook, which runs through the town, and Down'Ards are those born south of the river Dove. Despite the name, the ball is rarely kicked, though it is legal to kick, carry or throw it. Instead it generally moves through the town in a series of hugs, like a giant scrum in rugby, made up of dozens if not hundreds of people. There are two goal posts 3 miles apart, one at Sturston Mill (where the Up'Ards attempt to score), the other at Clifton Mill (where the Down'Ards score).

The Shrovetide football game is as old as the hills and has been played for centuries - possibly for more than 1,000 years. There are many versions as to the true origins of the game - but the most popular seems to be the theory that the 'ball' was originally a head tossed into the waiting crowd following an execution.

The game has received true 'Royal Assent' only twice - in 1928 the Prince of Wales, later Edward VIII, turned up the ball. This is when the event officially earned the designation Royal Shrovetide Football. Later, in 2003, HRH Prince Charles turned up the ball. He had agreed to start the game for the two previous years but had to cancel due to the death of his aunt, Princess Margaret, and Foot-and-Mouth, which forced the cancellation of the game.

Shrove Tuesday in England is Pancake Day ~ where we traditionally eat the following pancakes, which I guess are more crepe like than the pancakes you eat here.

So to celebrate this special day, my sons and I could not resist making our old English Pancakes (this actual recipe was the one I was taught in high school)

Pancakes ~ serves 4

100g/4oz A P Flour

Pinch of salt

1 egg

250 ml Milk

Oil for frying

Put the flour and salt into a bowl.  Drop the egg in the center, add a little milk and beat well with a whisk until smooth.  Whisk in the rest of the milk a little at a time.

Heat a little oil in the frying pan (there should just be enough to cover the bottom of the pan.  Ideally use a 6” pan.

When the oil is hot, add enough batter to cover the bottom of the pan/ Cook for 2-3 minutes until the bottom of the pancake is golden brown, then toss or turn it over and cook the other side.

Best served sprinkled with a little sugar and some freshly squeezed lemon juice.

Below is a small video of this years Shrovetide.


English Pancakes
Photo Detail
English Pancakes
Photo Detail
English Pancakes
Photo Detail
Feb. 21, 2012 4:36 pm
Your pancakes look beautiful, care to covert the recipe from metrics to cups? This tradition sounds as dangerous as the running of the bulls in Spain. Does the beginning of Lent have any significance or is it just a coincidence? I love little factlets like this, thanks!
Feb. 21, 2012 5:08 pm
HI BSM ~ I have no idea how to convert. I simply weight the flour. Not sure if there is any significance to shrovetide and to lent, I will make some enquires to try and find out.
Feb. 21, 2012 5:09 pm
The Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday are known as "Shrovetide," from an old English word "shrive," meaning "to confess," a name gotten from the tradition of going to Confession in the days before Lent started. Shrovetide is traditionally the time for "spring cleaning," and just as we clean our houses in these days in prepation for Lent, we also "clean our souls" through confession so we can enter the penitential season fresh.
Feb. 21, 2012 6:35 pm
BigShotsMom you can use a mass converter like http://www.calcul.com/mass-conversion or http://www.dianasdesserts.com/index.cfm/fuseaction/tools.measures/Measures.cfm
Feb. 21, 2012 10:10 pm
I LOVED reading this, apple.strudel! I thoroughly enjoy reading about others' homes and lives that are different from mine. I know you and petey are worlds apart, but I love both your blogs. Thanks for sharing a little bit of what your life was like in England.
Feb. 22, 2012 2:49 am
Paula ~ Thank you so much for your comments, I will certainly have to start blogging more about England. I will have to get my thinking cap on and start writing more about our customs and traditions in addition to writing about food!!!
Feb. 22, 2012 2:49 am
KingSparta ~ THANK YOU for coming to my rescue!
Feb. 22, 2012 3:01 am
Great blog AS. Seen the game on tv in the past. looks great fun. Need the pancakes and lashings og beer at the end of each day!!!!! Cutoms etc are great to blog but many ally to food or can be adapted . You'll no doubt think of some. Keep up the good work. cheers.
Feb. 22, 2012 3:02 am
Hi again, the Scottish version. cheers. Dropped Scones Also called Wee Pancakes, Scots Pancakes, Scotch Pancakes, Drop Scones and Scottish Pancakes. 4oz Self Raising Flour Pinch of Salt 2oz Caster Sugar 1 Egg Milk to mix - approx 4tbsp Optional - A few drops of lemon essence Mix the flour, salt and sugar, add the egg and gradually beat in the milk to make a thick batter; Add essence if used; Bake 2 or 3 at a time by dropping spoonfuls of the mixture on a hot, well-greased griddle; Cook until the underside is golden brown and the top is covered with bubbles; Turn and brown on the other side; Serve hot or cold, with butter, jam, maple syrup etc.
Feb. 22, 2012 4:57 am
Good morning, Apple! Love the blog and surely hope you write some more about your home country. Such wonderful historical towns that are so fascinating. I often wonder how people make such a huge move and adapt to another way of life. There seems to be much you would truly miss. I come from a family of 9 and we are scattered now from California to D.C but still seem able to gather once a year, usually for a wedding. I think you said your Christmas visit with your parents was the first in 2 years..is moving back across the pond in your long range plans? Of course, kids put another set of dynamics in there, as they grow and settle. I admire you!!
Feb. 22, 2012 5:24 am
I have many fond memories of Pancake Day. I can just picture the village and what Market Day must be like. There are many things I miss about England but I have good memories to fall back on.
Feb. 22, 2012 5:45 am
Baking Nana - I didn't realize you were also another one of our fine imports - and I thought I read all your blogs!
Feb. 22, 2012 8:26 am
How interesting! Thanks for the fun blog. (I like the decapitated head theory- gruesomely funny! LOL!)
Feb. 22, 2012 12:11 pm
Thanks for the history lesson! I had heard something about it, but never knew the details! I can't imagine running through town with a plate of pancakes!
Feb. 22, 2012 2:33 pm
Thanks AS, I actually knew about Shrovetide, I was asking about the timing of the game. It is no matter. Thanks King Sparta, I think I may have to give thee a try!
Feb. 22, 2012 2:47 pm
SueB ~ Thank you for stopping by. HAZLENUT ~ I would love to know if the head theory is actually true! BAKING NANA ~ You will have to tell us more about your time in England, did you live there for some time or just a visit?
Feb. 22, 2012 2:51 pm
Maggi ~ moving back to England is not in our plans, although who knows. I have two boys 17 and 22, I just can't keep moving them around the world. They are pretty much settled here and I see this being the place they will settle down and raise a family of their own in time. March we are going back to France for a vacation, most of my childhood was spent in France (as well as much of my own boys summers) not been there for four years now so we are super excited. My parents visit was wonderful, had a great time. I am hoping to get a week in England later in the year but that depends on many other factors. I will certainly start to think of more English related blogs, is there anything in particular you would like to hear about?
Feb. 22, 2012 2:52 pm
Hi Don ~ I have heard of dropped scones but never tried them. Thank you for the recipe I will get some baked and let you know what I think!
Feb. 22, 2012 3:09 pm
What a sweet tradition! Thank you for sharing! Love the idea the ball is passed through a series of "hugs" rather than kicks (while legal). It would be an interesting sight! Your pix are beautiful and good enough to eat!
Feb. 22, 2012 5:13 pm
Hi there, Apple. Don't even know what to ask but just so interested in all the little daily differences in living in another country. Some France stories too!! Your boys are lucky for the experience!
Feb. 23, 2012 10:01 am
Hi Apple Strudel. Your English pancakes look so inviting! My family likes to eat pancakes for dinner, so the more pancakes the merrier!
Feb. 24, 2012 9:11 am
Thank you for stopping by Lela and for your kind comments.
Feb. 24, 2012 7:56 pm
My mother used to make these for me all the time (I requested them every morning, but had to have 'healthy' food once in awhile). Her recipe called them 'French' pancakes, I think probably because they were made like crepes. In any event, my kids loved them too, and so do my grandchildren
Feb. 25, 2012 12:54 am
Suzysomething ~ Than you for stopping by, they are a little crepe like. Lucky you getting to eat these many times for breakfast. As kids we had them just once a year!
Mar. 4, 2012 10:41 am
Hey there AS!! I know it's been awhile since I commented on anything. Just wanted to touch base with you. I loved this entry also. Any time you write about England and traditions you give me information that I can use in my Intercultural classes, so thanks for that!! I love hearing about any of your traditions and how they intersect with modern life. I hope you have a wonderful time in France. I Skype every weekend with a couple of different people in France. I'm practicing my French and they practice their English. Donc, bonne vacance!! Au revoir!
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About Me
A little about me, I am a wife and Mum of two gorgeous boys aged 18 and 23, and now mummy to two adorable English Cocker Spaniel puppies named Brie and Henri. We have been living in the US now for 5 years. (You will also see me on allrecipes.co.uk - AR's UK site). I guess like most other European’s I don’t eat to live, but live to eat!!! One of my great passions in life is food. Good home cooked, fresh produce. Especially if it is sourced locally. I truly believe that it is so important at the end of the day for a family to sit down and eat a home cooked dinner together. I spend a lot of my time in the kitchen now, which always amuses my husband. A few years back we had a small public house and restaurant in the Derbyshire Countryside (England). Never once would I venture in the kitchen. With all those professionals there was certainly no need for an amateur! Should you wish you can contact me at thebritishbaker@mail.com
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