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Westhoughton Pasties

Pies and Pastries

Large flat pork pasty, formerly associated with the Keaw Yed Wakes Festival at Westhoughton, between Bolton and Wigan.

TT Wilkinson's 'Lancashire Folklore' of 1867 has; "PORK PASTIES. In West Houghton, at the annual feast or wakes, there is a singular local custom of making large flat pasties of pork, which are eaten in great quantities on the Wakes Sunday, with a liberal accompaniment of ale; and people resort to the village from all places for miles round, on this Sunday, just as they rush into Bury on Mid-Lent or Mothering Sunday to eat simnels and drink bragot ale."

Image: Lancashire OnLine Parish Clerks

The folk from Westhoughon are locally known as 'Keaw Yeds' (cow-heads), though for what reason is not clear.

The Keaw Yed Wakes Festival was held on the Sunday of or following St. Bartholomew's Day, August 24. The 1954 'Yearbook of English festivals' says that; "Dating back more than 400 years, the Wakes started out as a religious festival featuring a grand rushbearing procession in which a cart filled with new rushes, to replace those used in the church pews, moved through the town, ending up at the church where special services were held. After the sermon, the children were given "rush money" to spend at the fair.
But over time, the rushbearing ceremony faded and the festival became primarily an opportunity for merrymaking. The foods traditionally served at the festival included pork pasties and frumenty (also called furmenty or furmety), a porridge made from boiled wheat seasoned with sugar, cinnamon, and raisins.
There have been several attempts to explain the association of the cow's head with the Wakes. One story says that some of the town's wealthier citizens donated a cow to be publicly roasted and distributed to the poor. But rivalry between two factions in town led to a brawl, and the cow's head went to the victors, who were then referred to as "Keaw Yeds" by their rivals."

For a list of northern Wakes Day traditions, see the end of the Winster Wakes Cakes page

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