Lentsherd: A Clovelly tradition, by Ellie Jarvis
For generations every Shrove Tuesday, the children of Clovelly have taken part in an unusual custom. Tin cans are tied to strings and dragged down the famous cobbled street at dusk. The incredible noise the tin cans make is said to rid Clovelly of all the bad things from the previous year, chasing bad spirits away and banishing the Devil into the sea before the season of Lent begins.
Once the children have clattered their way to the harbour, the strings are tied tightly together, the cans are placed into netted bags and tethered to rope. The noisy contents are then thrown into the sea; which is said to take the evil spirits with them. We must stress that Clovelly is a fishing village and we would never litter the sea, so having served their purpose the cans are immediately retrieved from the water and placed into the recycling!
Every child who takes part is rewarded with a free pancake at the Red Lion, which they can decorate with their own selection of tasty toppings.
Not much is known about when this custom started, but one Clovelly resident who is 92, remembers taking part when she was young. Clovelly is a community which is uniquely linked to the past, fiercely proud of its fishing heritage as well as the history of its residents, and traditions which have meant so much to so many.
It seems that each generation has had a different name for the custom ~ “Lanshard”, “Tin Night”, “Rattlin’ Tin Night”, “Tinning” to name but a few and the tradition has certainly evolved. Currently, each year, one very special cluster of tin cans carries tags bearing the names of children from all over the world. These names are sent via the Clovelly Village social media pages, added to tags and then dragged down the cobbles on behalf of those named.
In previous years following a noisy decent to the harbour, a blessing has been given, but very sadly the much loved Reverend John Peak passed away suddenly, just days before the event. There was no blessing given this year, but he and his family were very firmly in our hearts throughout.
This is a short film which captures the essence of Clovelly Lentsherd was filmed a few years ago by Shimnix Films