War Memorial Gary Trouton

Anglican Newsletter

June 2008

Keith gives an early report omn the successful Wretton Historical Organisations All Eras festival.

On 18th May, the Wretton Historical organisation (WHO) held its All Era Historical Pageant on Wretton Common and in the Church. After two or three days of cold, cloudy and very wet weather, the day itself dawned bright and sunny and only got a little chilly by about 4.40pm as the events wound down.

What a day! The stalls and exhibitions and talks and displays were fabulous. Hundreds of people came and were excited or interested in what was there to see and to do. The attractions ranged from mediaeval instruments in the Church Chancel, with all day demonstrations of all of them; to a display of the food of the mediaeval table (the table of the poorest to the table of the richest); to a display of falconry; beautifully costumed genteel Tudor dancing, into which all were invited to take part; to Vikings in chain mail, fighting with clashing shields and swords; to specially brewed (in Wretton!) ales, which brought back memories of how beer used to taste in every pub in England; to a talk on the history of the village covering 5,000 years delivered in a charming Scottish accent; to the mediaeval simples stall, with very knowledgeable and fascinating conversation about herbs; to the imposing fully armoured (from toe to head) 14th Century knight; to the washer women demonstrating how to put on and tighten a Victorian corset; to the 18th Century Sedan Chair, with its Churchwarden pipe smoking bearers; to the prehistoric flint knapping; to the gorgeous barbecues venison and plum jam sandwiches; to the 1940s American glee singers; to the . . . . where shall I stop? Apologies to any who were inadvertently missed out.

What was really fascinating was to hear and to see the animation with which some of the older denizens of the village were reminded of their own childhoods. 'Where has the kissing gate gone from the end of the footpath across the field?' was one overheard question. A group of men surrounded one of the photos of pre-war school children trying to identify and recognize who they all were. A visitor from far away, wearing mediaeval dress, (in fact a Churchwarden in her home Church) knelt in the Church among its 17th Century pews (looking as the first users of those pews must have done). Interestingly she was using a Latin translation of the Book of Common Prayer - a remarkable book, given that the whole point of the Book of Common Prayer was that it was written in the vulgar tongue - ie the English that every man and women of the time would have understood. A couple who now live in the area, but had moved in from Mildenhall discovered that one of the tapestried kneelers bore the names and dates of birth and death of her great grand parents. She then found that her great grandfather was named on the war memorial plaque on the outside of the Church Tower.

This was a day when a sense of village community was a strong as most of us can remember. It is so good to have a day when a village comes together in real happiness and joy. The challenge for WHO is to be able to reproduce this event in the years to come. It was open to all to walk into and payment was only required to buy food and drink etc - all the displays and stalls were open for all to see and to touch and to talk about. This was not free in reality of course and the funding was by was of Lottery Grant. Can you imagine a more productive use to which such grants can be put? If we are to see similar events in the future we cannot get such grants. I would suggest that anyone and everyone who was excited by this marvelous Fair and can think of any way of resurrecting the old games and displays of the annual Fete that used to be held in the James Bradfield School playing fields should come forward over the next few months to find a means of bringing back again the summer joy of the 18th May 2008 Wretton Fair.

A last word from the Church. As I write, everything has not been counted up and brought together, but it is already clear that the proceeds of the Fair coming to the Church amounts to well over £1,000. The tea stall proceeds will go into the General Fund of the Church, but all other donations and proceeds will go into the Church Restoration Fund and will make a valuable contribution to the current work in progress. Thank you, Wretton and Stoke Ferry.

Keith MacLeod

Licensed Lay Minister

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