In August 1928, when Barrett Jenkins recorded these scenes on celluloid, Southwold's Beating the Bounds ritual was clearly regarded as a major summer entertainment for the Borough Council, townsfolk and visitors.

One of Southwold's 'Bound Posts' chances to lie on the Walberswick side of the river, necessitating a boat trip by the beaters onto neighbouring territory, an act of ritualised 'invasion' which is traditionally the cause of (mainly good-humoured) rivalry between the two communities.

The practice of 'perambulating' the bounds is a surviving festival in many British towns. Originating in Celtic and Saxon times, it seems to have been a combination of fertility rite and territorial reaffirmation. It traditionally took place at Beltane or Mayday. Rods of birch (the first tree to come into leaf) were used to beat a series of landmarks around the perimeter of a community to impress upon its members and upon neighbouring communities exactly where its territorial boundaries lay. In some areas the ritual involved beating young boys at each boundary post, as well as the post itself, to impress upon emerging generations the importance of perpetuating territorial rights.

In Southwold, the practice seems of relatively recent origin. Southwold's 19th Century chronicler, James Maggs, records that it was in 1738, that the Corporation first commanded a perambulation in Rogation Week. In 1884 Maggs witnessed the festival himself on July 1st.

"The Townsmen went their Perambulations, started from Long Island Cliff - the Recorder Jas. Jermyn Esq, Bailiffs Soloman Grout & John Sutherland Esqs, Chamberlains Messres Peregrine Edwards and Wm Crisp and many others took Boats and proceeding along shore to the Haven into which they went - thence to the end of Buss Creek - thence to the Bound Post & so on to the place of starting. Here the usual ceremony of bumping several persons was gone through with throwing one another into the Sea et et."

Beating the Bounds still takes place in Southwold every so often. It was observed in June 2009 as one of the events to commemorate the 500th anniversary of William Godell's bequest of land to the town.