Tutbury (Burton upon Trent)

From International Robin Hood Bibliography
Locality
Coordinate 52.854206, -1.68821
Adm. div. Staffordshire
Vicinity c. 3 km NW of Burton upon Trent
Type Settlement
Interest Literary locale
Status Extant
First Record
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Tutbury (Burton upon Trent).

By Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2020-10-25. Revised by Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2021-02-12. Information courtesy Tim Prevett, MA, producer, consultant and lecturer on slow TV.

The central part of the action of the ballad Robin Hood's Birth, Breeding, Valor and Marriage takes place in the village or small town of Tutbury in Staffordshire.

References to 'Titbury feast' and a bull being bated by bagpipers (see Quotations below) make it clear that the imagined occasion was the infamous Tutbury bull run, which took place annually on August 16 or 17. Evidently already an established custom by 1414, this 'sport' took place in connection with the annual Court of Minstrels, 'a ceremonial legal proceeding for travelling musicians in the nearby counties'.[1] Tutbury Priory, and after the Dissolution of the Monasteries the Duke of Devonshire, provided a bull which was chased through town by the minstrels, later by residents of adjacent parts of Staffordshire and Derbyshire in general. Once caught, the bull was baited to death and its meat served during the ensuing feast. When this 'hideously brutal custom, of long standing'[2] was finally abolished, in 1778, this was apparently due to the drunkenness and disorderliness of participants rather than the cruelty of the event.

Quotations

Said Robin Hood, Lady fair, whither away?
O whither, fair lady, away?
And she made him answer, To kill a fat buck;
For to-morrow is Titbury day.
[Robin Hood's Birth, Breeding, Valor and Marriage (17th cent.), st. 30.][3]

But she said, It may not be so, gentle sir,
For I must be at Titbury feast;
And if Robin Hood will go thither with me,
I'll make him the most welcome guest.
[Robin Hood's Birth, Breeding, Valor and Marriage, st. 39.][3]

This battle was fought near to Titbury town,
When the bagpipes bated the bull;
I am king of the fidlers, and sware 't is a truth,
And I call him that doubts it a gull.
[Robin Hood's Birth, Breeding, Valor and Marriage, st. 44.][4]

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