Pretty Maids all in a Row.

28th January – Dicing Maids – Guildford, England.

In 1674 John How, a citizen of Guildford left the sum of £400 in his will. He left instructions that two maids servants ‘of good reports’ should throw a dice in order to win the interest gained from such a priestly sum, approximately £11.9s, or a year’s wage. This was to take place on the last Thursday of the Month of January .

The Maid who rolls the highest number takes all of John How’s money.

Medieval Bone Dice

However, in 1702 Mr John Parsons of Guildford left a further £600 which was also to be invested, though the interest from his was to be given to the loser, who gained more than the winner even if by only a few pennies. .


Initially the interest of this was to be given each year to ‘a poor young man’ who’d served a full seven-year apprenticeship in the town. As time passed and when no suitable applicant could be found, the town council decided that the interest on John’s Parson’s bequest should be passed to the loser of the Maid’s Money contest.

The Ceremony takes place at the Council Chamber, Guildford in Surrey England.

Map of Guildford 1666

The Dicing Maids still takes place, though they date has now been changed to May, and rather than two servant girls of good standing the dice are rolled by two women and all the monies go to charity.

Allyson Shaw, Author of Ashes and Stones

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