Thursday, January 10, 2013

Plough Sunday and Monday

click photo to enlarge
Traditionally the dates of Plough Sunday and Plough Monday fall on the first Sunday and Monday after Epiphany (Twelfth Night). In the eastern counties of England a church service was held that included a plough being brought into the building to form the centrepiece of the worship and for it to receive a blessing. Then, on Plough Monday, the ploughboys would return to work at the start of the ploughing season. Often on this day a plough was taken in a parade through the town or village and money sought from farmers and the well-to-do, welcome funds for workers whose employment was at a low ebb over the turn of the year. Sometimes these festivities were accompanied by morris or sword dances. Individual villages came up with their own traditions unique to their location. One such example centred on the fenland villages of Ramsey and Whittlesey. Every year they paraded a straw bear through the streets drawn by the ploughwitches!

These traditions continue. Sometimes it is in a revived form (as at Whittlesey today), but elsewhere it is an unbroken survival of a traditional custom. In the village where I live a church service, complete with plough, is held every year. This year it is on the Sunday 13th January when the thousand year old Norman building will once again echo to "We plough the fields and scatter".

Today's photograph shows what appears to be an early twentieth century plough. It stands next to a farm, a reminder of the days when ploughing in autumn for winter wheat wasn't the usual way, and ploughs were pulled by real horses rather than the horsepower of an enormous tractor. I took my photograph on a frosty morning when the sun was low in the sky. It seemed an appropriate subject for a conversion to sepiatone.

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Camera: LX3
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 5.1mm (24mm - 35mm equiv.)
F No: 2.8
Shutter Speed: 1/160
ISO: 80
Exposure Compensation:  -0.33 EV
Image Stabilisation: On