Potterspury - Village Events of Olde

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Extracts from Potterspury - the story of a village and its people

Potterspury rarely fails to come up with special 'one off' organisations when necessary, whether to set up special events to generate income, such as the Festival of Transport, to celebrate great national events (the Millennium, Jubilees, Royal Weddings, Coronations), or even to write a book about our village! Our knowledge of these occasions goes back to the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria.

The Golden Jubilee

A general meeting of parishioners was held in the boys' school in March 1887 'to consider the best way of celebrating in the parish the glorious jubilee of our good Queen's accession to the throne.' His Grace the Duke of Grafton chaired the meeting, and it was resolved that a committee be formed 'to obtain further information on the subject and to make the necessary arrangements for a general holiday to be given to the working classes of the parish.'

The committee, under the leadership of the duke, arranged for a collection to be made around the village 'to obtain subscriptions to cover the expenses of the holiday.' It was agreed that the holiday would be held in Mr Druce's field, and that the 'Stratford tent' be obtained. The village band were to be engaged at a fee of 3 and provided with dinner, tea and one quart of beer each. The church bells were to be rung, and the bellringers were to be paid 20 shillings.

The event comprised a dinner with ham, bread and butter, and cakes, with the children having tea and cakes, and some 530 people attended. A tender for the dinner was accepted at two shillings and twopence per head (about 11 p), and the total cost of the celebration was 67 5s 11d, of which 36 3s 3d was contributed by the Duke and Duchess of Grafton.

The Diamond Jubilee

Ten years later, on 12 May 1897, 60 parishoners met at the school to discuss how they might celebrate Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee 'in a fit and proper manner.' It was unanimously agreed that 'a dinner, tea and sports should be given and the day observed as a public holiday.' It was suggested by Mr Patterson (the duke's agent) that every man between the ages of 14 and 65 should be entitled to a dinner if they subscribed one shilling or more to the general fund, that men over 65 should have a free dinner, and that women and children under 14 should have a free tea.

At a subsequent meeting, it was decided to hire the band for 3, with dinner and tea provided for its members. (Despite the lack of free beer on this occasion the fee does not appear to have changed since the golden jubilee ten years earlier!) It was agreed that the men's dinner should consist of cold joints, pickles, hot vegetables, pudding, and table beer, with tickets for two pints of beer at two shillings each. For the ladies there would be bread and butter, cake, buns and tea.

 Sports were to be organized, with no less than 18 events and a total of 5 in prize money. The meeting was pleased to hear that the Duke of Grafton had generously donated 20, and the Duchess had chipped in with 12. It was estimated that there would be about 230 men's dinners at two shillings per head, and 550 ladies' teas at sixpence a head.

The meetings were not entirely without discord, however. It was agreed at one meeting that no licence for the sale of intoxicating liquor on the field would be granted (proposed by the duke's agent and seconded by the Nonconformist minister). The following meeting was attended by the innkeepers, who declined the request that they should get the dinner if they were not allowed a licence to sell on the field. The innkeepers lost the day as it was decided that the dinner committee themselves would provide the dinner (with three more volunteers added to the committee!), but they later repented and donated four pounds and thirteen shillings to the fund used to buy prizes for the races.

A total of 380 lbs (173 kilos) of meat was bought, to allow one and a half pounds per man, and the Reindeer Inn supplied 108 gallons of beer.





(c) 2012 Mark Russell - www.potterspury.org.uk

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