Knutsford Street Sanding.

In the Cheshire town of Knutsford an ancient tradition still exists which has been passed on down the generations for 900 years. It is said that King Canute started the tradition when he forded the river Lily when he was on his way to fight the Scots, this is how the ford part of Knutsford’s name came about.

Although the river Lily is little more than a stream these days, as can be seen in the photograph, I assume that in King Canute’s day (1013-1045) it would have been a lot wider and resembled something which would have had to have been forded and not stepped over! Anyhow the tradition came about because when he stepped from the waters of the river he had sand in his shoes so he had to remove them and shake the sand out of them.

A man called Ted Worrall was the person responsible for handing down the tradition to the present group of people keeping the custom alive, they are Jimmy and Alfred Gilbert, Ray Keat and Colin Veal. Every year the sand is coloured by a dye which will produce six different colours of sand, red, yellow, orange, white, blue and purple, these coloured sands are then used to creat various types of patterns and some years new designs are introduced. These creations are on show outside St John’s church in the centre of Knutsford on May Day, however they are sometimes created to celebrate weddings.

Another variation on how the custom of sanding came about is that when King Canute visited Knutsford it is said that he threw sand at the feet of a party of newlyweds, wishing the couple as many children as the grains of sand at their feet.

2 Responses to “Knutsford Street Sanding.”

  1. Hi Gary, I’m trying to find out more about the sanding tradition in Knutsford and found your blog post really helpful. I’d love to pick your brains on it. Please let me know if you wouldn’t mind me emailing you.. Best, Lucy

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