Wirksworth is a proud ancient mining town lying not far from its more famed Peak district relatives Matlock and Matlock Bath, despite the proximity of these towns, Wirksworth appears to have a different feel about it and unlike the other two retains its customs. Well dressing thrives here, its ancient mining history is not forgotten with the biennial Barmote and a more recent tradition of church clypping.
Whether it has an older origin is unclear but it is known to have been undertaken every year since 1921 on the Sunday nearest to the 8th of September, but it’s association with the patronal day is doubtless medieval in origin. The word clyppan being Saxon for embrace. Today the ceremony is associated with the town’s festival, which is rather a quaint irony,considering that the church would have been central and the reason.Midway through the service, the congregation poured out of the church, like ants, following the clergy singing a hymn. More and more people poured out and as the clergy moved around the circle was slowing formed like some sort of human strand of string. They leave singing the church’s one foundation and as the clergy circle around, the human chain, like a giant hokey cokey gets more formed people awaiting outside being drawn to it like paper clips in a chain held by a giant magnet.Even a baby in a pram was involved!
What is clypping?
The purpose of clypping is to show affection to the church and show the love they have for their mother church. Watching the custom one cannot help feel that this is a much more ancient ritual and replacing this mighty church with a stone circle is not beyond credibility. Its great to see this perhaps millennia old custom surviving and being enthusiastically embraced (sorry!)
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