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King Stephen (1135-1154)
The Tichborne Dole : The strange-but-true story of a Lady Day tradition.
The Tichborne Dole

Based on an account at Historic UK.

LADY Tichborne warned her heirs never to fail in their charity to the poor. Six hundred years and one meddlesome magistrate later, her unlikely fears came true.

BACK in the twelfth century, as Lady Mabella Tichborne lay dying she asked her husband to give the peasants on his estates a free gift of flour every year on Lady Day.

Sir Roger, whose instincts were decidedly thrifty, replied that they could have the harvest of any field his bedridden lady could mark out — alone, by hand, and at night, in the time one torch would take to burn out.

After dragging herself around fully twenty-three acres* of her husband’s estate - called ‘the Crawls’ to this day - Mabella warned Sir Roger to keep his side of the bargain.

Otherwise, there would be one generation of seven sons, and one generation of seven daughters, and the Tichborne name would be extinct.

In 1796, a magistrate ordered the dole suspended after it began to attract vagrants. Sir Henry Tichborne, one of seven sons himself, promptly fathered seven daughters.

The dole was hastily reinstated, and is still distributed to families in Tichborne today.

* 23 acres is approximately thirteen football pitches.


There is a short video of the dole being distributed on YouTube.

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Picture: © Colin Smith, Geograph. Licence: CC-BY-SA 2.0. View original
The Tichborne Arms, a thatched public house in the village of Tichborne, Hampshire. The Latin pub sign reads, ‘Fight for your country’.

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