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Candlemas & Carlow's Dole

Candlemas is often associated with charities, especially doles. Did you know that George Carlow, who owned The Bull Inn, Woodbridge, in 1738, left a small charity to distribute bread each year to the poor? His bequest was written on his tomb, which was built in (what was then) the garden of the inn, so that no-one could forget!

"Twenty shillings worth of bread to be given on this stone to the poor of the town on the 2nd of February forever."

George Carlow's tomb, benefactor  to the town of Woodbridge
George Carlow's tomb

At the time, twenty shillings could buy 120 two-penny loaves, which were purchased from the two poorest bakers in the town. The Rector and Churchwardens of St Mary's Church were in charge of distributing the bread, and the tradition continued for many years.

Over time, the bread came to be distributed specifically to local children, but eventually the custom died out entirely. It was briefly resurrected in 2020, and now, in 2024, David & Sarah Clarke, owners of the Bull Inn, have brought Carlow's Dole back to the fore. Although it is no longer possible for bread to be distributed from the top of George Carlow's tomb (as it's now on land forming part of a private garden), The Rector, Fr Nigel, and Churchwardens, Veronica Howe & David Sharples, have today met with children from Year 2 at St Mary's CofE Primary School in Carlow's Room at the Bull, where the children enjoyed home made bread with some jam, no doubt at a cost of rather more than 20 shillings!

Rector and Churchwardens with St Mary's Primary children, in Carlow's Room at the Bull Inn
In Carlow's Room at the Bull Inn

Children enjoying their Carlow's Dole bread

For the very first time, the Rector and Churchwardens were invited to see George Carlow's tomb in the neighbouring garden, which was very exciting, and we are grateful for this opportunity.

(Photos courtesy of Janice Poulson)


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