I’ve just discovered another gem of a book that’s been mouldering on my bookcase fore years. It’s Cecil Torr’s Small Talk at Wreyland, by a gent of independent means educated at Harrow, and spent some time as a barrister before setting in his family’s heartland of Devon, to leave this brilliant record based on family documents as well as his own researchers.
“A child was born here on 20 November 1902, and had a rupture. Some while afterwards I asked the father how the child was getting on and the answer was – “Oh it be a sight better since us put’n through a tree.” And I found that they had carried out the ancient rite. The father had split an ash tree on the hill behind this house, and had wedged the hole open with 2 chunks of oak. Then he and his wife took the child up there at day-break; and, as the sun rose, they passed it 3 times through the tree, from east to west. The mother then took the child home, and the father pulled out the chunks of oak, and bandaged up the tree. As the tree-trunk healed, so would the rupture heal also.
I asked him why he did it, and he seemed surprised at the question, and said – “Why, all folk do it.” I then asked him whether he thought it really did much good, and the reply was – “Well, as much good as sloppin’ water over’n in church.”