These photographs, kindly loaned by local historian Joan Newby who has amassed accounts of Ambleside Rushbearing, show how the ancient festival has changed little over the years from the earliest recorded events.
Joan has researched and collated Parish Church archives to build up an almost complete year by year account stretching back to 1831. Her records show that the Rushbearing service that year assembled in the Market Place at 8.00pm and followed the Ambleside Union Band back to the parish church – at that time St Anne’s, where the garlands were hung.
The bearings were made of artificial flowers and after the Sunday service children were given gingerbread, a tradition which still continues today.
The Rushbearing remained almost unchanged for more than 100 years before alterations to the one-way traffic system enforced a change of route in 1976. The time was brought forwards to 2.30pm in 1983 with the present format of sports and tea following on from the church service which has recently been held outside.
Once in decline, numbers have again been swelled by the number of summer visitors eager to take in the ancient custom and, while many other traditions in the village have passed into the annuls of history, the Rushbearing still survives as a reminder of a bygone era.
1830s This must be one of the earliest recorded pictures depicting the Ambleside Rushbearing. The print, taken from an 1835 engraving by J. Redaway, is from a drawing by T. Allom and shows young ladies carrying an elaborate globe as the procession passes through the village.
1900s This photograph, believed to be from 1907, shows a somewhat depleted procession entering the Market Place. Before the advent of mass tourism there only appear to be a few shopworkers who have taken time off to watch.
1900s This is the Monday procession when the children collected their bearings after school and followed the band anti-clockwise around the town before afternoon tea and gams at Greenbank.
1940s The crowds are out in force as a line of young girls and boys halt outside Tyson’s footwear shop and the band strike up the Rushbearing hymn.
1950s The Rushbearing procession makes its way through Ambleside with neatly turned out youngsters behaving impecably.
1960s Note the swinging Sixties fashions as smartly dressed teenagers carry the harp past Boots the Chemist.
1960s Children pose for the local paper's photographer before setting out on the Rushbearing parade in 1961.
1960s Mothers with children at the rear of the parade in 1963.
1970s Children proudly hold their decorated rushes aloft in the Market Place. Are you shown in the photograph?
1980s Clergy carrying rushes as colour photgraphy comes to record the time honoured event for posterity.
2000 The head of the Rushbearing procession in the millennium year with traditional churchwarden staves missing from the scene
2012 Jessie Wilson, who has been a part of Rushbearing all her life carries rushes in her wheelchair at the grand age of 101.