Residents brave flooding to attend Britain's oldest ceremony in Ryton - complete with rum, pipes and a fantastically strange forfeit

It was mentioned in the Doomesday book and is believed to be Britain's oldest ceremony - so residents were undeterred by flooding as they battled their way to the collection of Wroth Silver on November 11.

Thursday, 28th November 2019, 5:03 pm
Updated Thursday, 28th November 2019, 5:20 pm
Traditionally, a clay pipe is smoked at the Queen's Head after the ceremony. Photo: Mike Baker, 2016.

The early-morning ceremony, believed to be more than 800 years old, sees representatives of 25 parishes in the area pay their dues to His Grace the Duke of Buchleuch.

They then head to the Queen's Head, where clay pipes are smoked and a toast is made with hot milk and rum.

William Waddilove has written a firsthand account of the ceremony for the Advertiser.

Mr Waddilove wrote: "After battling though flooded roads, and the occasional fully closed road, over 80 people gathered at the stone at the top of Knightlow Hill to witness the annual collection of Wroth Silver.

"We were all very pleased that the heavy overnight rain had stopped shortly before.

"This is Britain's oldest ceremony and was recorded in the Doomsday Book.

"What is the origin? This is lost in history but is thought to be a payment for policing of a safe passage through the ancient Forest of Arden.

"Officiating was Rachel Gladstone-Brown, the Agent for His Grace the Duke of Buchleuch who called on the 25 named parishes in the Hundred of Knightlow to pay their dues.

"The collection was witnessed by Councillor Bill Lewis, the mayor of Rugby.

"Upon completion of payment and it appeared that all had paid and none had defaulted, and that the required 46 pence had been collected, all retired to the Queen's Head in Bretford.

"The mayor had been at the Queen's Head beforehand to enrobe and partake of the traditional rum and hot milk as the bar had opened especially for this purpose at 6am.

"After a full cooked breakfast and all had been served with a glass of rum and milk the Loyal Toast was proposed and responded to by the mayor, who after a few suitable words of acknowledgement proposed a toast to The Duke of Buchleuch and Queensbury.

"Rachel Gladstone-Brown responded on his behalf and gave a report of some of the events at Boughton House and that they had now introduced cattle among the deer in the estate grounds and that she was disappointed that she was unable to return with a white bull with red nose and ears as would have been the forfeit if any parish had defaulted in their payment.

"Barry Patterson, our poet, presented his poem which he had specially written for the day to celebrate our ‘putting a penny in the stone’ as we had been doing for over 800 years.

"David Eadon, now attending for his 82nd consecutive year, told us a little about the history of the ceremony and welcomed Rex Key.

"One of the traditions is that everyone who comes to the breakfast is given a churchwarden pipe and although we can no longer smoke in the restaurant tobacco and matches are provided in the smoking shelter.

"Rex who is the last remaining maker of clay pipes in the country also brought along a display of some of the pipes he makes.

"We emerged from the breakfast promising to meet again next year at the same time to continue to support this Britain’s oldest ceremony."

To learn more about the ceremony, visit www.wrothsilver.org.uk