1865 Fancy Fair (Luke, Marriott)

Article from the Bury Free Press, dated August 1865

Fancy fairs, which originated in church festivals, are now returning to their pristine use. At the first attempt at their restoration many designated them “vanity fairs”, but now all sections of the church (excepting, perhaps, the Quakers) have legalised this method of getting money for the purposes of religion and charity. It is a singular sign of the times that after friends have paid their subscriptions to an object, they are willing to spend their money at a fancy fair or bazaar, to make up the deficiency in the funds. And yet it is not to be wondered at. The gay company, the cheerful music, the brilliant scene, and though last, not least, the fair syren-like vendors, easily account for our willingness to be “sold again”.

Such a fair or bazaar has just been held at the village of Elmswell, a few miles from Bury, on the Ipswich line, and containing a population under a thousand, and the object was to raise money towards paying for the National School now in course of erection there. The greater part of the village is close to the station, and the church, rectory and schools, are some half-mile distant.

This is a good instance of the young and growing vitality now so observable in the Established Church. The Rev.W.H.C. Luke, a young clergyman, has had the living but three years, and yet in that time he has restored the chancel of the old church, built a fine rectory, and now nearly finished the national School.The last named is a red brick building, somewhat of the Gothic style, situate a little way from the church. It is capable of accommodating 80 children, and nearly that number are awaiting admission.The building has been erected by Mr Andrews, of Bury St. Edmunds for £500. There is a school-room and a class-room, which can be thrown into one for lectures and meetings; the former 45ft. 6in. by 17ft., the latter 16ft. by 12ft. The principal window nearest the lane is early English, with three lancets; and there is a little belfry rising from the centre of the roof. The site was generously given by Admiral Sir George Seymout; and .£450 has been either given or promised to the fund, leaving £150 to be raised by the bazaar, exclusive of the fittings of the master’s house; the latter will cost about £200.

The bazaar was held in the rectory grounds on Friday and Saturday last.The rectory is a substantial red brick edifice, in a mixed Tudor-gothic style, standing on the hill, and commanding a fine prospect over the country ofTostock and Woolpit. The grounds are neat, tastefully laid out in beds, with green spaces suitable for croquet, &c. On these spaces were erected three tents; banners were planted about the garden, and mottoes were hung among the shrubs. The first tent was labelled “post office”. The postman accosted us as we passed, and said he had a letter for us which being unstamped must cost us 2d! It was directed to “The Reporter of the Bury Free Press, Elmswell Post Office, Suffolk” and contained the following “billet douz” in a lady’s handwriting:-

“Honesty is” in this Bazaar
“The better policy” by far;
No cheating ever thrives for long,
He gains the least who does the wrong.
Straightforward dealings are the best,
“Tis useless to deceive in jest,
A word may be misunderstood,
A deed well done is done for good,
Thus I do right who write this letter,
But you in buying do far better.

Elmswell, August 4th, 1865

Judging by the industry of the “official”, we should say the post office was a good savings bank for the school. We then passed on to the large marquee, kindly lent by the Bury Horticultural Society, and at the entrance were met by a clergyman, who, blowing round a circular inscribed cardboard, which he held in his hand, wished to know if we wanted our fortunes told, for a penny. This place was decorated with a green festoon extending from pole to pole, from which were hanging Chinese lanterns, and the poles were surrounded with flowers. The stalls (covered with pink cambric and muslin) were placed along each side, and separated by fancy trophies. The stock-in-trade was of the usual description — wool-work, bead-work, needle-work, crochet, babies’ wardrobes, photographic views of the church (by Mr Spanton of Bury), dressed dolls, pin cushions, toys, articles for the toilet, fruit, flowers, &c. The proprietor, the worthy rector, exerted himself in doing business with all the bonhommie of the Vicar of Wakefield, and was ably seconded by his fair assistants — Lady Mary Phippe, Mrs Luke, Mrs Crawford, Mrs Edward Alderson, Mrs Connell, MrsW Luke, Miss Rawcon, Miss Lancaster, the Misses Rodwell, and the Misses Alderson. If any one with money in his pocket could run such a gauntlet without investing, he must indeed be a hardened reprobate.

Passing out at the other end we reached the refreshment booth, where a light refection might be had at a moderate charge. Here, as well as by aunt sally, and a weighing machine, many a penny was turned with a small air cannon, which shot arrows upon a target.

The band of the East Suffolk Militia Artillery from Ipswich, under the conductorship of Mr H Carter, attended on the first day, when the weather was very unfavourable till the afternoon. Then the visitors from the neighbourhood poured in thick and fast, and among them we observed theVen. Lord Arthur Hervey and family; Major Parker, M.P., and family; Hon. and Rev. Mr Phippe, Capt. Blakely, Capt. Katterwell, Rev. Mr Terry (Tostock), Rev. H.S. Marriott, (Woolpit), Dr Dicken (Norton), Mr Beale, Mr Crawford, Mr C Rawson &c. £110 were taken. The next day, the weather being fine, and the admission free, a good number of the poorer parishioners attended, those purchases, however, did not tell much in the total.