It doesn't matter whether you are running a youth group, football team, business, shop or a country you will need money! Governments and rulers always seem to be short of cash! A way for them to solve this problem is to levy taxes on those they govern.This has been going on for centuries.
'Long Shanks' better known as King Edward l ruled England from 1272 till 1307. He acquired the nick name because of his height 6' 2" or 1.88 m (which was considered to be gigantic in those days.) Eager to expand his territory His Majesty engaged in wars against both Wales and Scotland.
During this period there was a high demand for English wool, (particularly from Flemish weavers.) Seeing a great opportunity In 1275 His Royal Highness imposed a tax of £3 per bag on the export of wool (almost a 40% tax on each bag.) In 1298 this tax was doubled! Not surprisingly smuggling wool 'out of the country' became popular.
In 1428 John Roger (from the county of Dorset) was arrested and tried for smuggling wool. He was denied a trial by jury because the Privy Council recognized that the 'wool tax' was so disliked that no local jury would convict him.Instead he was fined 200 marks.
The nursery rhyme Ba Ba Black Sheep is believed to have been written as a protest against this Medieval tax. Click here to play the song on The Shellies balloons.
In The Wealth of Nations 1776 the father of modern economics Adam Smith defended the practice of smuggling as a legitimate activity in the face of 'unnatural' legislation.
A traditional rhyme which rang out loud from the streets of London in the 19th and early 20th century was:
'Please remember the grotto
Me father has gone off to sea
Me mother's gone to fetch him back
So please give a farthin' to me'
Street Urchins could be seen holding out a grubby hand or a shell asking those passing by to give them money. The song mentions 'farthin' (farthing) this was an old English coin.
No one can say with any certainty when Grotto Day was, there are reports that it was held on a day in late July, early August or September.
The day was celebrated in other areas including Hampshire, Essex, Sussex, Norfolk and Swansea
On the 21st of November 1957 The Times contained an article about Grotto Day on the Old Kent Road in London.