Ales a term applied in England to certain festivals, which were variously distinguished as the bridal-ale, Whitsun-ale, lamb-ale, leet-ale, etc. But the church ales and clerk-ales (sometimes called the lesser church-ales) were among those authorized sports which, at the time of the Reformation, caused great contention between archbishop Laud and the Puritans. The people, on the conclusion of afternoon prayers on Sundays, were in the habit of going to their "lawful sports and pastimes," in the churchyard or neighborhood, or in some public-house, to drink and make merry. It was claimed that the benevolence of the people at their pastimes enabled many poor parishes to cast their bells, beautify their churches, and raise stock for the poor. Sometimes these were held in honor of the tutelar saint of the church, or for the express purpose of raising contributions for its repair. Clerk-ales were festivals for the assistance of the parish clerk with money or with good cheer, as an encouragement in his office.

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