The Feast of Saint Rumbold
While ‘Saint Eanswythe’ is the Patron Saint of Folkestone, up to the 17th century the Patron Saint of ‘Fishermen of Folkestone’ was an infant saint from Anglo-Saxon times, St. Rumbold of Buckingham. Rumbold was an infant saint who lived for 3 days only, proclaiming the Gospel and providing miracles. Quite how he came to be associated with the fishermen of Folkestone remains a mystery. However, Edward Hasted recorded the following in his account of The Town and Parish of Folkestone:
“There was a singular custom used of long time by the fishermen of this place (Folkestone) :
They chose eight of the largest and best whitings out of every boat when they came home from that fishery, and sold them apart from the rest, and out of the money arising from them they made a feast, every Christmas-eve, which they called a rumbald.
The master of each boat provided this feast for his own company, so that there were as many different entertainments as there were boats.These whitings, which are of a very large size, and are sold all round the country as far as Canterbury, are called rumbald whitings.
This custom, which is now lest off, though many of the inhabitants still meet socially on a Christmas-eve, and call it rumbald night, might have been antiently instituted in honor of St. Rumbald, and the fish designed as an offering to him for his protection during the fishery”.
From Edward Hasted’s ‘The town and parish of Folkestone’, The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 8 (1799).
Our thanks to Christopher Conn, for these details. For further details on The Rumbold