Push penny

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Push penny was a long-observed custom at Durham Cathedral in England which occurred three days in the year. During this tradition money was thrown into the crowd on the college-yard.[1][2] The event occurred annually on January 30, May 29, and November 5; respectively the anniversary of King Charles' death, Oak Apple Day, and Guy Fawkes Night.[3][1] They would throw out 20 shillings of copper to the people on the yard.[4]


It is unknown when the tradition began but it was stopped by the Reformation and was continued after the Restoration of Charles II. The Dean and Chapter of Durham were people who kept this tradition going over the years, but the custom was stopped again in the middle of the 19th century.[2] It is unlikely that this tradition will come back.[5]


During the monastic period, roughly 300-600 people would gather by the Prior's Mansion and pennies were thrown out at them.[5][6]

At Bishop Auckland the Bishop would throw pennies on specific days of the year.[5]


  1. ^ a b "push-penny". Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. September 2005.  (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  2. ^ a b Walsh, William Shepard (1897-01-01). Curiosities of Popular Customs ... Illustrated. 
  3. ^ Durham Chronicle. 29 Nov 1872.
  4. ^ The Antiquary. E. W. Allen. 1873-01-01. 
  5. ^ a b c Thiselton-Dyer, Thomas Firminger (1876). "British Popular Customs: Present and Past". archive.org. George Bell & Sons. Retrieved 2015-10-18. 
  6. ^ Sorabella, Jean (October 2001). "Monasticism in Western Medieval Europe". www.metmuseum.org. Retrieved 2015-10-18.