The unique ‘Rocking’ service at St Mary’s of the Purification, our Parish Church, normally takes placeon the Sunday closest to 2nd February; it is called Candlemas and is normally held forty days after Christmas Day. The baby boy born nearest to Christmas and being baptised is ‘rocked’ in a flower decked cradle. The names of those babies ‘rocked’, are recorded in the Church. Will Richards, a former Blidworth Parish Councillor himself as well as local historian wrote, ‘During the Rocking service the story of Jesus’s presentation is always read. It begins in St Luke, chapter 2, verse 22: And when the days of her (Mary’s) purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord’.
The ‘Rocking’ service at St May’s Church has its roots many years ago. In fact it was banned in 1692 during the Reformation but revived after one hundred and fifty years. The Rev. Whitworth writing in 1902 thought it might have started as an ‘offshoot of miracle plays, represented at Southwell for instruction of the people’. By this date the celebration had again died out but he mentions a Mr John Bailey of Python Hill, who had witnessed one of the old services. The occasion must have been a most important one for Blidworth village as in his ‘Historical Memorials’ of our Parish Church of 1873 he writes of ‘the very singular festival known as Blidworth Rocking, celebrated on the Purification at the village feast. Crowds from Derbyshire and Yorkshire used to assemble……a cradle was carried in procession, in honour of the presentation of the infant Saviour in the Temple….’ It appears to have been a fun day out for all the family with ‘sports’ sometimes getting out of control! In earlier times, so much so that in 1598, Thomas Leake was killed nearby by a Captain Salmond of Salterford in a duel as the result of an argument over a young woman!
The modern celebration was revived in 1921 by the Rev John Lowndes and a new cradle was provided by Eliza Poynton of Fairlight Cottage Blidworth and her own children were rocked. In the following year the baby rocked was Clifford Simpson and some source claim this was the first rocking in modern times? In 1924 three babies were rocked! Twins born to Mrs Birch were eligible to be rocked but another couple claimed their child should also be rocked as he had been born at around the same time as the twins. The Rev. Lowndes made the diplomatic decision to rock all three. There is a photograph of the event in Will Richard’s book, ‘Blidworth in Old Picture Postcards’
The child receives a Holy Bible for his later use and a Register of Rocking's is fixed to the wall in the Baptistery.
In more recent times, Nottinghamshire County Council (NCC) and Blidworth Parish Council completed a Project aimed at helping local residents remember and honour a unique annual ceremony held in the village. The project has seen the creation of a statue representing the cradle used in the centuries-old rocking ceremony, which has been installed at a central junction on the main road through the village.
A magnificent ‘Cradle Sculpture’ was erected at ‘Forest Folk Corner’ by the Parish Council as part of the NCC Local Improvement Scheme. It had been designed, manufactured by local resident, Morris Reddington who kindly donated his time at no cost to the scheme. In 2012 the service was held on 5th February with the Rev’d Hazel Robinson and the ‘Rocking’ was performed by Right Rev’d Tony Porter, the Bishop of Sherwood.
The Parish Council recommends Blidworth local history books by Will Richards, W Wild and the Rev’d R H Whitworth as well as the Blidworth and District Historical and Heritage Society (blidworthhistoricalsociety.co.uk) for further study.
Photos: The Rocking ceremony sculpture located at the bottom of Main Street in Blidworth.
The Bull Piece
The Bull piece is an area of land (0.63ha) owned by Blidworth Parish Council and used as a green space area.
Its name derives from its former use. In the early 1900s a local farmer used to keep his prized bull tethered on this area of land in order to serve the cows in the village and the locals of Blidworth always called it the Bull piece.
Below are some photos of the land along New Lane, Blidworth
Blidworth War Memorial and Garden is situated at the junction of Main Street and Beck Lane and is a fine tribute to the fallen in the Great Wars and more recent troubles in N. Ireland and Afghanistan.
On the Stone faces there are tributes:
'Remembered in silence'. 1914-1918
'Lest we forget'. 1939-1945
Northern Ireland 1969-1998
Sergeant Major Mathew Clay Lecturn.
Mathew Clay (1796-1873) a Blidworth soldier who took part in the Battle of Waterloo, has a historical commorative lectern situated at the same site as the war memorial on Main Street in Blidworth. 2015 was the 200th Anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo and Private Clay at the time became famous for his vivid accounts of battles during that time, especially the battle of Hougoumont Farm and Chateau. The plaque at the site gives more information on his life.