|Where:||Tichborne, Hampshire at Tichborne House|
Tichborne Dole is one of the longest established charity doles in the country, with a great legend attached to it. As Lady Mabella lay on her deathbed in the twelfth century, she requested that she should be able to leave a charitable bequest of land to provide flour for the needy locals ; her husband Sir Roger said that she could have all the land that she could walk around while carrying a single burning brand from the fire. He didn’t expect that she would encircle 23 acres before the flame expired but as the lady also cursed anyone who interfered with the annual dole, he didn’t dare to refuse her request. So the story goes, anyway! Today locals are still entitled to claim a gallon of flour per head from outside Tichborne House on March 25th ; the flour is blessed and distributed from a large wooden bin. It’s a condition of the lease of the house that any tenant must continue the custom so it looks safe for the future.
Lady Mabella is also known as Isabella and her tomb is in the little church nearby. Tichborne is also famous for the Tichborne Claimant case, when an Australian impostor tried to impersonate the long lost heir and claim the inheritance of the estate.
Thanks to Paula Gerrard for the photos!
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