This is the second article for Arborfield in the Berkshire Local History Recording Scheme,
'The Bull Inn Club'
The article was in the form of a newspaper cutting, as follows:
OLD BERKSHIRE CUSTOMS
THE WHITSUNTIDE CLUB DAYS AT ARBORFIELD
As told by an eye-witness as a child.
The writer was Mrs. Ann Barker, who died a few years ago.
(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
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
Alongside the newspaper cutting is the note: "Extract from Reading Mercury
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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