Jul 092017

No matter what the size of a community, traditions will form over time. Some will last for centuries with little or no change, whereas others will be more recent (modern) additions. Traditions and customs create a sense of community.

In Holsworthy – the nearest town to my two one-place study villages of Tetcott and Luffincott – there has been an annual fair in existence for over 800 years! Granted by Royal Charter to the Lord of the Manor in around 1160, St Peter’s Fair was originally held over the feast day of St Peter (29 June). The fair has changed significantly from its origins of trading and bargaining for three days but, for the last 300 years, the opening of the Fair has remaining fairly constant. Standing beneath the boughs of the Great Tree of Holsworthy at 8am, the Town Crier (accompanied by Court Leet members) declared the Fair open for three days. The tree has sadly long since gone but the tradition continues around a brass plaque set into the road surface with officers of the Court proclaiming the event open.

The highlight of St Peter's Fair has always been the amusements and fairground rides. Historically, this took place in ‘Fair Park’ along North Road but now, they take pride of place in the Square.

The town of Calne where I now live, having moved here in 2011, is steeped in tradition. This year saw the 31st annual Duck Race. One Saturday in May, ducks are launched down the River Marden. Three thousand numbered bath ducks are sold door-to-door by Calne Lions before the event, along with business ducks and school ducks (which are decorated). The three events attract crowds of more than 3,000 people with craft, food and community stalls around the town.

There is also an annual Bike Meet which began back in 2000. The first year, I am told, started with a few bike clubs attending. That is hard to believe now, just seventeen years later as, each year, the town centre is literally full of bikes! The basic concept was to “put Calne on the map” and that aim has most certainly been fulfilled with vintage, classic and veteran bikes coming in large numbers from far and wide (even from the Continent!).

Have you discovered any interesting traditions in your place? …. any which stand out from the crowd?

Kirsty Gray

  2 Responses to “Community Traditions”

  1. Love the photo of the duck race. Reminds me, one of my ancestors, Sarah DUCK (born 1840) married Henry SAGE (born 26 Nov 1839) in Calne in 1860. Don’t know much about Sarah, there seems to be a few DUCKS in Calne!

  2. Happy to help out Angie – I am only down the road from Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre!

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