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English Traditions - Weird and Wonderful

As the annual cheese rolling competition at Coopers Hill in Gloucestershire came to a conclusion, police reiterated their concerns, as they have done for the last four years, over the safety of the event. Originally involving hundreds of people chasing down a full wheel of Double Gloucester cheese down a steep hill, so many got injured in the event, the cheese was replaced by a foam alternative which was still not to the liking of the health and safety officials.

To the overseas visitor this might seem a strange way for grown people to entertain themselves but there are stranger traditions in England.


This is a staple of the Egremont Crab Fair in Cumberland where often toothless, rubber faced men try to outdo Mr Bean in pulling the ugliest faces, framed by a horse collar. Its origins are unknown but linked with the subject of the fair; crab apples, it’s possible to see how eating one of the sour fruits could induce involuntary gurning.

Health and Safety Alert: During the fair, crab apples are thrown into the watching crowds and they’re hard little devils too! Crab apples are also well known for inducing stomach cramps.

Worm ChasingWorm Charming
Willaston in Cheshire is the venue for the annual world worm charming contest although few if any other countries send a national team! The contestants have thirty minutes to ‘charm’ as many worms as possible out of a 9m2 patch of ground using music or their own special talents. It’s probably the only place in the world where water is considered an illegal drug! By the way, the record is 511 worms charmed in half an hour!

Health and Safety Alert: Grazed knees and dodgy backs abound but helpful chiropractors are on hand afterwards to help you stand up once more!

Bog SnorkelingBog Snorkelling
Supposedly held each year in the home of bog snorkelling; Llanwrtyd Wells, similar events take place across the country. Contestants don face mask, snorkel and flippers and snorkel a 120m course aiming to be the first to negotiate the murky waters without looking up. It sounds easy enough but when dozens, sometimes up to a hundred people are involved, none of them able to see where they’re going, the scene is hilarious. Current world champions, Kez and Tigger are from Australia.

Health and Safety Alert: Bumped heads are a possibility as contestants collide with each other whilst upset stomachs from swallowing boggy water is also a likelihood.

Morris DancingMorris Dancing
An ancient dance thought to originate from fertility or spring agricultural rites men (and now often women) dress in white shirts and black knee length shorts, attach bells and ribbons to various parts of their body and dance something similar to a square dance but made more dangerous with sticks and sometimes swords.

Health and Safety Alert: Possibility of bruised knuckles from the sticks and cuts from the clash of swords.
Phil Partridge
Posted: May 30, 2013 by Phil Partridge 0 comments
About the Author -

Travel writer, car rental guru, Phil has rented cars all over the world and shares his knowledge and experience on the Rhinocarhire.com Blog. Favourite country to visit: France.

Last updated: Friday, July 3, 2020
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