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Rochester Sweeps Festival

10th April 2024

Discover the origin of Sweeps festival with Quiz Trail

The annual Sweeps Festival is a celebration going back some 300 years. Sweeping chimneys was a dirty, unpleasant but necessary job which was carried out by sweeps and chimney boys. May Day was a day when they could take a break and enjoy a procession through the streets of Rochester – accompanied by Jack-in-the-Green. This fabled character, at seven feet tall, is woken from his slumber on nearby Bluebell Hill in the morning before he travels to Rochester to start the festivities. With the passing of the Climbing Boys Act in 1868 making it illegal to employ young boys to clean inside chimneys, the tradition gradually waned and finally died. The celebrations in Rochester stopped in the early 1900s and much to our delight were revived again in the 1980s. Thousands come every year to enjoy this wonderful annual event.

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