Thursday saw the return of a series of quirky traditions at Lincoln College to celebrate Ascension Day, the highlight of which was the throwing of the pennies. In an ancient custom at the college, pennies are dropped from the Mitre tower onto Lincoln’s front quad, where a number of children from a nearby primary school attempt to catch them.
Traditionally, the pennies were heated before being thrown to the waiting schoolchildren as a warning of the dangers of avarice: now, there is nothing to stop them gathering as many as they can.
The day also sees a rare welcoming of Brasenose students inside Lincoln: a secret passage between the colleges is opened up on this day each year. Once inside, Brasenostrils are treated to a pint of ‘ivy ale’: a drink flavoured with ground ivy handpicked by Lincoln’s butler in some local woods.
Although the origins of this tradition are contested, the story supposedly goes that a Brasenose student fleeing a violent mob was refused refuge by Lincoln members. The offering of yearly ale is Lincoln’s penitence: but the lacing each drink with ivy prevents any students from taking the liberty of requesting more than one.
The day also saw the Beating of the Bounds, where Parish members gathered to mark the boundaries of the parish by beating sticks.