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The Tichborne Dole in Hampshire

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The Tichborne Dole takes place in Tichborne, Hampshire, on March 25th every year and is a celebration of an eccentric British tradition.

Dating back to the 13th century, the event takes place on the Feast of the Annunciation (Lady's Day).

Historically, on this day the Tichborne family would give the poor a dole allowance in the form of flour, as a way of bettering their circumstances.

However, this tradition stopped in 1796 when the family decided to donate the money spent on the flour to the church instead.

Despite this, the tradition of the flour dole celebrations continues to be acknowledged in Tichborne each year and now makes for a popular day out for families around the UK.

Today, the event provides a chance for people to come together and exchange flour as a means of socialising on a fun day out.

Villagers and visitors carry bags, pillow cases and cartons of flour to the festival. It is all pooled together and then placed in a huge flour box, which is sprinkled with incense and holy water before being blessed on the soul of Lady Marbella Tichborne.

Lady Marbella is credited with starting the festival 800 years ago and her memory is key to the traditional celebrations.

She was known locally for her charity work and her desire to help the poor - particularly her request that the Tichborne estate donate a small sum to the poor of the parish each year - was often met with opposition. Her husband agreed to the request and said he would give as much land as she could encompass while holding a blazing torch in her hand.

Her sacrifice for the poor made her into a legend among those less well off and her charitable spirit is celebrated during the day-long event.

Today it is only those families who live in Tichborne, Cheriton and Lane End who are entitled to the dole - one gallon of flour per adult and half a gallon per child.

However, the event itself is open to all spectators and is a brilliant chance to see one of England's oldest and most noble traditions still alive in modern times.

For those wondering how to get to Tichborne, it is located ten kilometres east of Winchester, just off the A31 or the M3. It is an extremely small village with no train station, so driving there is the best option for visitors.

Those without cars can catch a train to Winchester and take a taxi or bus from there.


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