The Village Feast

In mediaeval times it was common for each village to have its own special feast or festival. This was in addition to the important Feast Days of Easter, Whitsun, Trinity and Christmas, on these days the community would attend Church to receive communion. The Village Feast Day was often associated with the re-dedication of the church to its patron saint. The Wingrave Feast was no exception, taking place on the first Sunday after St Peter's day, the parish church in Wingrave being dedicated to SS Peter and Paul. This Sunday was called Feast Sunday and the days thereafter called Feast Monday etc.

The Village Feast was usually a time of revellry, drinking and of course feasting, involving everyone in the community. Relations and people from surrounding villages would come to visit. In the 17th Century, many village feasts were disbanded, being seen as encouraging licentious behaviour but Wingrave's continued.

We have very little description of the Wingrave Feast prior to the last century but we know that it was a significant festival.

William Lucas a farmer left beer for the poor 'at the Wingrave Feast and Christmas' in 1824. Bracketing the feast with Christmas, gives some idea of the local importance of the festival and also indicates its association with drinking!

Unsurprisingly, the combination of high spirits, excitement and alcohol would sometimes lead to trouble.

In 1891, the Bucks Herald reported that " the yearly event was well patronised as usual" however "on Sunday night about ten o'clock a young man named Badrick was savagely set upon by some person and brutally kicked about, he now lies in a very precarious condition" but in 1906 the paper was relieved to report that 'happily there was an almost total absence of drunkenness'.

However in 1925, the parish clerk was asked by the Parish Council "to see Superintendent Kent with reference to having proper supervision on Feast Day" and in 1938 Mr Fleet (a local councillor) was asked again to "interview the Police Superintendent with a view to ensuring proper supervision on the occasion of the Village feast".

The feasting included eating homegrown new potatoes and peas, Norman Brackley (click here to find out more about him) remembers "The old locals always used to have to have new potatoes and geen peas - they would 'murder' a row of potatoes across their garden or allotment to get enough, it wouldn't matter if they were as big as marbles. Then they would wait until they had a reasonable crop until they had any more." Click here to listen to this.

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