December 24th: Tolling the Devil’s Knell
Welcome to Forgotten Festivals Rolag Club!
So many traditional celebrations fall in December. It seems almost universal for a culture to need a cheering festival of light as the days reach their shortest point. With so many festivals remembered and still celebrated, it has been a challenge to choose a forgotten one. This celebration is not so much forgotten as lesser-known outside of the local area.
This month we are celebrating Tolling the Devil’s Knell on December 24th.
Tolling the Devil’s Knell is a tradition local to Dewsbury in Yorkshire and dates back to the middle ages. The legend tells that in 1434, Sir Thomas de Soothill, in a fit of rage, committed the murder of a servant. As penance for his crime, he donated a tenor bell to his parish church in Dewsbury. The bell came to bear his name, being known as “Black Tom of Soothill”. Sir Thomas is credited with starting the tradition of tolling this bell, once for each year since the birth of Christ, ending at midnight, just as Christmas day begins. This was probably not such a mammoth task in the time of Sir Thomas as it is in 2015! The tradition continues each year at Dewsbury Minster, only pausing during the war years. Dewsbury Minster’s website lists all the bells in its bell tower and their inscriptions. The tenor bell, “Black Tom”, is inscribed:
I shall be here if treated just
When they are mouldering in the dust
Bells are the dominant theme of this box, inspiring one set of rolags, the stitch markers and the extra treat. Further inspiration comes from the traditional sights, scents and tastes of this season. I hope you enjoy it.
In this box you will find:
- An introduction to the tradition of “Tolling the Devil’s Knell”
- 20g of rolags in ”Medieval Metal” – 60% Merino, 25% black diamond bamboo, 7.5% gold stellina, 7.5% bronze stellina.
- 10g of rolags in “Evergreen” – 60% Shetland, 40% Bamboo.
- Seed beads in “Holly Berry” – be careful when you open these!
- A Handspun mini skein in “Jack Frost” – Falkland plied with glitter thread.
- A set of stitch markers.
- Tea in “Three Cinnamon” and “Spicy Chai” flavours.
- A winter-spiced tealight.
- A chocolate bell.