CLICK TO VIEW 2020
Rushbearing is steeped in history as the traditional celebration to mark the laying of new rushes on the earthen floors of churches to provide a carpet for parishioners and also to freshen up the often stale air of the church.
The practice was particularly popular in the north of England but has largely died out although some communities continue this important tradition and today it marks a focal point in both the calendar of the church and local families many of whom can trace the custom back through generations.
Ambleside - along with near neighbours Grasmere - has honoured Rushbearing for over 200 years and early records illustrate the importance of the event to the town. A decorated rush harp is displayed at the head of the Rushbearing which follows a traditional route from St Mary's Church as the procession of bearers carrying decorated rushes is brought up by the rush World and joined by children carrying rush bundles.
The procession halts in Market Place where the time-honoured Rushbearing Song is recounted and rushes raised before returning to a service of thanksgiving and dedication as garlands are displayed in the church. Children receive local gingerbread - often a bribe for their attendance in years gone by - before children's Rushbearing sports and prized guide race takes place in Rothay Park.
St Mary's Rushbearing Mural
Visitors to St Mary's Parish Church are fortunate to be able to see a dedicated mural depicting the Rushbearing scene from the middle of last century when London School of Art students evacuated from the capital and relocted to Ambleside for the duration of hostilities. Measuring 26 x 12 feet, it was painted in 1944 by Gordon Ransom, a final year student and depicts the four stages of the town’s historic Rushbearing ceremony
showing the procession, singing of the Rushbearing song and raising of the rushes in Market Place, before the blessing at St Mary’s.
The iconic mural has been recently restored after it had begun to flake and show signs of progressive deterioration to such an extent that church members felt action was required to prevent the historic link fading away.
Professional restorers were called in and a £13,000 refurbishment undertaken to return the mural back to it's former glory.