It was generally on the occasions of Royal celebrations that the village went "en fete", though there were the usual flower shows and fetes held in the grounds of the various large houses until the Village Hall was built. Old inhabitants of the village have told us how every year a May Queen was chosen and how she went in a procession round the village; afterwards, dancing round the maypole and sports were held in a field off Caughall Road.
Here is a
description of the first recorded festivities in the church papers. It was on
the occasion of the celebration of Queen Victoria's Jubilee in 1887. The parish
festivities started on the morning of 23rd June;- "A very hot and fine
The festivities began with a service in church to which nearly the whole parish came, men, women and children - "of all ranks. A procession was formed, headed by the Band of the Earl of Chester's Volunteers, and they marched to the church in the following order;)
Banners of Upton Oddfellows
Upton Oddfellows with insignia
Churchwardens and sidesmen
In Church Lane the procession was met by the
surpliced choir and Chaplain to the County Asylum and the Vicar of Upton. The
church was crowded to excess. After the service the procession re-formed and
returned to Mr. B. C. Roberts' field.
"The men sat down at 1 p.m. to a dinner in the schoolroom, while at 4 p.m.
the women had a tea of a very substantial character in a marquee erected in the
above field." Athletic sports and dancing were carried on until the
evening. At 10 p.m. a bonfire was lit, rockets and fire balloons
were sent up and coloured lights were lit. The National Anthem was frequently
sung during the day and the company dispersed about 11 p.m. "A
highly successful day's holiday." Arrangements were carried out by a committee of parishioners and the whole village took part. (85)
In the 1897 Jubilee there were rejoicings similar to the festivities of ten years earlier. This time, however, we learn that "At 10 o'clock dinner was provided for the men in the schoolroom, and tea for the women and children in the afternoon." There were "sports for the men and dancing for the young men and maidens", finishing up with a bonfire in the evening.
Again in June, 1911, at the Coronation celebrations of King George V and Queen Mary practically the whole village went to church. This time the procession was formed at the school and they marched to church, headed by the Boy Scouts. The children were each given a New Testament, "a coronation cup and twopence in the new coinage." As on previous occasions there was a dinner at 1 p.m. for the men, followed by sports, while at 4 p.m. the women had a "knife and fork tea" and at 5 p.m. came the children's turn. The festivities were held at Upton Lawn which was illuminated, and ended with a display of fireworks.
At the coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in 1937 similar proceedings were followed, except that the children had a tea, and the older folk buffet teas" in the evening. No longer were the sexes segregated for these festive meals. The over-60s were given tea or tobacco, and a bank book and £1 deposit was given to the oldest and youngest parishioners respectively.
Other festive occasions have been celebrated, such as the ending of the two World Wars. We have had a real "village wedding" here too. In June 1904, when the eldest daughter of Mr. B. C. Roberts was married the village was decorated with bunting and arches and, according to a resident, "the whole village was invited, to the celebrations on the following Saturday. There was a tea for the children and hobby horses and swings were provided for their amusement. At 6 p.m. a tea was given to the villagers after which there was dancing."
How wholeheartedly .the people of Upton threw themselves into all these festivities ! We have just had a Festival of Britain Week, but to-day there are more attractions outside the village and less general participation in these affairs. We get that feeling of "unity in enjoyment" at our (86) Annual Harvest Home in the Village Hail, started by our Vicar, the Rev. J. Wheldon-Wiillams, a few years ago, to which all can come. We have the Christmas Tree and Crib and a beautiful Carol Service in our church, and again this is for the whole village and not merely for church people. (87)