Wroth Silver: reporter Lucie Green pays her silver to the old Duke

MHRA-10-11-12 Wroth''Wroth Silver - Stretton On Dunsmore.
MHRA-10-11-12 Wroth''Wroth Silver - Stretton On Dunsmore.
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IT’S five on Saturday morning and my alarm clock is ringing in my ears.

Is this my four-year-old daughter playing a cruel trick on me?

MHRA-10-11-12 Wroth''Wroth Silver - Stretton On Dunsmore.

MHRA-10-11-12 Wroth''Wroth Silver - Stretton On Dunsmore.

I come to and realise it’s for real and that I volunteered to cover the annual Wroth Silver ceremony.

Come on, who wouldn’t want to stand in a dark, cold field in November before dawn?

Here, I must pay my respects to ceremony organiser David Eadon, who has attended every ceremony for the last 75 years.

Villagers from around the borough pay their dues and throw coins into an ancient stone on the hill between Stretton and Ryton on the A45.

The fees are paid to the Duke of Buccleuch every year on Martinmas Eve - November 11.

His representative Christopher Sparrow attends on the Duke’s behalf and raises a smile with his wit and warmth.

The payment is for taxation purposes and is due from the parishes that make up the Knightlow Hundred.

I was impressed with the amount of people who had risen from their warm beds to witness the tradition, which is mentioned in the Domesday Book.

Rugby Mayor Kathryn Lawrence, wearing traditional civic regalia with high heeled leopardskin wellington boots, said: “The historian in me loves traditional customs like this.

“It ties in well with my theme for the year of celebrating Rugby’s past, present and future.”

The ceremony was followed by a traditional English breakfast at the Queen’s Head pub in Bretford, with warm milk and rum to soothe cold hands.

A clay pipe was also given, but is no longer smoked in the pub since the smoking ban.

Tim Hosker attended Wroth Silver for the first time with his father Don.

“We’ve really enjoyed it and we’re glad it didn’t rain,” said Tim. Don added: “It’s a lovely custom.”

Organiser David Eadon’s family first became involved in the custom in 1904 when his father heard about it from a school friend.

“They went along and they really enjoyed it, so the next year my father brought his father and we’ve been involved ever since.”

He thanked everybody for attending on Saturday and was presented with two anniversary cakes, a framed picture and a poem.

Wroth Silver is an experience I’m glad I have covered (twice if we’re counting).

Next year I’ll leave it to another, younger reporter to try.