Local History Society

 Local History Recording Scheme: Ref. A6-2



This is the second article for Arborfield in the Berkshire Local History Recording Scheme, reference A6-2:

'The Bull Inn Club'

The article was in the form of a newspaper cutting, as follows:




As told by an eye-witness as a child. The writer was Mrs. Ann Barker, who died a few years ago.
Miss Beatrice Simonds opening the Village Hall, 1931
(Transcribed by Miss Beatrice Simonds)

The Bull Inn Club was held Whit-Monday, the Swan Inn Club the following Wednesday. The club men all wore their best clothes, with tall hats, and a favour of the club colours fastened in them; the children all wore white.

I think the Club time at Whitsuntide as the event I remember most, as that was the only time we heard a band: when the sound of the drum coming up the Causeway, as we called it, was heard, the children ran to the Cross by the Bull Inn. There the club members were gathered, and the names called out before going to the old church for service; then the bells used to ring and the band play down the park.

The flag was placed in front of the gallery, and people took their seats in church. On that day the poor folks were allowed to sit in the big pews belonging to the gentry. I remember sitting in a large square pew with green plush lining, and cushions to match, and never was the Old Hundredth hymn sung with more heartiness than it used to be then. The organ in the gallery was played by turning a handle.

After the service the bells were rung again, and all went back as far as the Rectory; there the band went to the front of the house and played some tunes. Then all returned to The Bull where dinner was served to the club members and the bandsmen.

I am forgetting old blind John! He was always a notable figure and marched with his hand on the shoulder of one of the bandsmen wherever they went. I ought to mention the flag; it was grand dark blue silk with yellow fringe, and on it the words "Arborfield Benefit Society".

After dinner the Club members and band, and all the villagers who could, used to go to Newlands; at that time it was the old house that stood where there is still a bunch of evergreens and oak trees. There the family were seated at the front. John used to whistle; he would imitate all the birds exactly. After, the band played again, and all marched to the Mole Inn where refreshments were freely taken, then back to the Bull for a time. After that another march to the Bramshill Hunt for more refreshments.

I forget what part of the day the running took place. There were things to be won hung on the sign of The Swan, and the runners had to run from The Bull there. I call to mind once there was a chemise, and the winner had to put it on and wear it down the street! But there were chiefly shirts and red handkerchiefs. Then there was the greasy pole, with a leg of mutton on the top to be climbed for. It was a man named Mosdell that used to climb; the boys would throw him sand to help him, and after many slides down he would reach it and carry it off in triumph.

There used to be merry-go-rounds with horses, and two little carriages for girls, that were pushed round by hand, not many times round, for a penny. Then lots of stalls with gingerbreads, cakes, sweets and biscuits, and all sorts of funny little toys. I remember Mrs Marks with her twin babies in a box under her stall, and Sally Smith with her nuts and gingerbreads.

I remember there used to come a queer couple that sang songs; the man and woman both had but one eye, and they sang a verse each.

After the band had gone, the dancing took place in the long room, to a fiddle and piccolo. The man who played the fiddle was blind Jimmy Cordray from Farley Hill.

Alongside the newspaper cutting is the note: "Extract from Reading Mercury of 23.8.30".

Name and address of recorder: Beatrice M Simonds, Newlands, Arborfield.
Date event recorded: 26th August, 1930.

With acknowledgements to Reading Local Studies Library and to Berkshire Newspapers

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