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Tudor-style Pancake Day celebrated in music and activities

The Pancake Bakery by Pieter Aertsen

Press release issued: 7 February 2018

Two events in Bristol on Tuesday 13 February will help re-create the Tudor traditions of Shrove Tuesday.

In a rare opportunity to enjoy 16th and 17th century music and dance, “The Battle between Shrovetide and Lent” will be performed at The Church of St Thomas the Martyr at 7.30pm.  Earlier in the day Bristol Central Library will host the chance to get involved in carnival mask-making and pancake racing on College Green as part of a history exhibition from midday until 3pm.

Both public events share and explore research by University of Bristol PhD student Taylor Aucoin, who has examined the customs of medieval and Renaissance Britain around Shrove Tuesday and Carnival.

Taylor said: "Shrove Tuesday, or Pancake Day as it's commonly known, was the finale of the British Carnival season called Shrovetide. On the day before the fasting season of Lent began, a 'pancake bell' would ring, calling people to leave work behind and eat, drink and make merry on a grand scale.

"These merry men and women spent their holiday observing an eclectic mix of customs. While pancake-eating was an integral part of the festivities, our ancestors also indulged in jousting, plays, football and riotous revelry.

"To celebrate we have rarely-performed ballads, carols, dances, masque songs, theatre music and readings which re-enact the annual battle between the British Carnival and Lenten seasons, as well as an interactive history workshop to wish Bristol a Merry Shrovetide."

The event is part of Merry Shrovetide, an annual public festival organised by Taylor Aucoin and devoted to sharing the history and significance of Carnival and festive culture through community events. It is backed by the University of Bristol’s History Department, and the Bristol Doctoral College’s PGR Venture’s Fund, which encourages grassroots innovation, creativity and leadership among the postgraduate researcher community.

Further information

More information on 'Merry Shrovetide' is available on the festival's website and the events' Facebook pages.

  • The Pancake Day History Workshop is free and takes place at Bristol Central Library BS1 5TL between midday and 3pm.Visitors can take part in carnival mask-making and pancake racing and view a research exhibition covering food, drink, sports, theatre as part of the Shrove celebrations.
  • ‘The Battle between Shrovetide and Lent’ will be performed by early music specialists Passamezzo at Church of St Thomas the Martyr, Bristol BS1 6JG at 7.30pm.Tickets are available online or on the door at £15 or £8 (concessions).Refreshments have been donated by Sainsbury’s and Co-op Foodstores.All profits go towards the Churches Conservation Trust.
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