LIFE OUTSIDE WORK: Tea Treats & Snail Creeps
Tea treats, feast days and carnivals were established Cornish customs in the 19th Century and were still popular between the wars. In the 1930s the music for Tea Treats was provided by the fyfe and drum bands and earlier references suggest local musicians played whatever instruments were popular at the time.
Along the eastern side of the Clay Country, Tea Treats were marked by a fascinating custom going under the name Snail Creep. This dance appears to be unique to this part of Cornwall and involves a long procession of couples following a band, lead by two people holding up branches - the tentacles of the snail. The origins of the dance are unclear but there are records dating back to mediaeval times. The tradition eventually died out in the 1940s until a full scale re-enactment took place in June 2008.
Food & drink included large saffron buns, gallons of scalding hot tea and ‘stannons’ – stalls selling various treats including sweets, liquorice strands, ice cream cornets and even limpets.