Portrait of Bampton, Devon, in the Eighteenth Century

By Tom McManamon

The Calendar Change

Until 1582, the Christian world used the Julian calendar. It was a little inaccurate but served its purpose until it was discovered that the calculation of Easter was becoming adrift. In that year, Pope Gregory XIII devised a calendar which corrected the error, and it is that which is in use today. At the time only a few countries adopted it - most of the others, being strongly anti-Catholic, would have nothing to do with it. Gradually however, more countries adopted it and Great Britain eventually gave in in 1752. Between 1582 and 1752, a deficit of eleven days had accumulated and to remedy this, the month of September had those days chopped out - Wednesday the 2 was followed by Thursday 14. This caused a great deal of civil unrest - people had the idea that eleven days had been taken from their lives - and undoubtedy the folk of Bampton, whose religion was strongly Anything But Roman Catholic, nurtured the same idea. More unrest was caused by landlords looking for their next month's rent some 2½ weeks after their last payment! Until the change, visitors from Europe had to make swift mental calculations regarding what day it was - they had accepted the change some years earlier and were ten days adrift from England, reversing their sums upon their return. Also affected was the beginning of the Tax Year which had always been March 25 which suddenly became April 5, until 1800 when a skipped Leap Year altered it to the present date - 6 April. It was also the year in which New Year's Day was moved from the ancient 25 March to January 1.

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