FUN and games to mark a young person acquiring adult qualifications go back to the ceremonies associated with the end – or loosening-of – an apprentice’s seven-year training when he became a fully-fledged craftsman.

At Burton around 1800, the adolescent fun and games were called ‘burying the old wife’.

The ‘late apprentice when the party had met was taken into an adjoining room and an old woman’s hat is put on his head, the body is enveloped in a white sheet.

‘He is then taken upon the shoulders of his comrades into the banqueting room, round which he is carried a few times, in a not very solemn procession, and finally placed upon the boards whereon the figure of a grave is chalked. A kind of funeral is gone through and the old wife buried’.

The lad then changed into a brand new set of ‘decent wearing apparel’ provided, according to custom, by the master whose service he was now free to leave as he was now a journey-man.