St. Gabriel's Sunday School walk down Penny Meadow.
The period around Whit Sunday, the seventh Sunday after Easter, is known as Whitsuntide. One of the traditions in the area around Manchester is the practice of "Whit Walks".
In Ashton the Whit Walks take place on the third Sunday of June although several other nearby places have their walks on Whit Sunday itself. In nearby Mossley and Saddleworth the walks take place on Whit Friday, the Friday after Whit Sunday.
Historically, Ashton's Walks were originally on Whit Friday. but then moved to the following Sunday (Trinity Sunday). In recent years the event has moved to the fixed time of the third Sunday of June.
Most of the churches in Ashton take part in the Whit Walks. A Procession from each church, accompanied by a band, makes its way to the centre of Ashton.
Albion Church walk down Penny Meadow.
When all the churches have assembled in a town centre car park, a combined service is held, with hymns accompanied by one of the brass bands. Ashton's MP and local councillors usually take part in the service.
The church groups then process along a route around the town centre before walking back to their own starting points.
One of the traditions of the Whit Walks is for those taking part to wear new clothes for the occasion. In harder times this was something to look forward to as children would rarely get new clothes, more often receiving handed-down clothes from older siblings or relations.
The origin of wearing new clothes would seem to be based in the practice at one time of newly baptised members being received into the church at Whitsun (being a celebration of the birth of the Christian Church at Pentecost). The new clothes, often white, were symbolic of a new start.
Another custom, still in practice, is for people watching the walk from the pavement to look out for people they know taking part in the walk and to run forward and give them money.
St. Peter's Church in Wellington Road.
The large contingent from Christ Church stretches down the road and round the corner!
The assembled Churches hold a combined service on a town centre car park.
St. Gabriel's lead the procession around the town centre.
Albion Church Rainbows.
Charlestown Church in Stamford Street.
St. James Church.
Stamford Street Methodist Church.
See photos of Ashton's 2010 Walks here.
See large photos of Ashton's 2010 Walks here.
See photos of Ashton's 2009 Walks here.
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Visit the Traditions index page to find out about more local traditions around Ashton.