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Wellingborough & Kettering News 22/08/1890, transcribed by Peter Brown
Higham Feast

What ever may be the pros. and cons. regarding the observation of feasts generally, it certainly seems that the good people of Higham Ferrers do not intend to allow their feast to remain unobserved. During the past week it has been kept up with all the old vigour, and on a larger scale than in former years. Higham feast really is a feast, there can be no mistake about that; and with Higham folk all other festivals, whether national or religious, are insignificant compared with the great feast of the year. As we have just said, Higham Feast must be taken as literally true; ifnot the abnormal amount of provisions ordered and supplied to the townspeople during the previous week must have been a remarkable coincidence. Anyone ignorant of this important festival, on passing through Higham on Sunday, would have divined that something extraordinary was on foot, for there was a continual stream of visitors, and the provisions above-mentioned were certainly largely drawn upon. There are family reunions and old friendships resumed, and healths pledged in the social glass; and we need hardly say that the old hostelries bearing the titles of the “Green Dragon,” the “Griffin,” the “Queens Head,” and the “Swan,” have their full complement of visitors, and their stabling accommodation is put to the utmost test. We thought of applying the old quotation “The feast of reason and the flow of soul,” to Higham Feast, but it would be rather incongruous for, no doubt, much is done which is unreasonable, and the flow seems to be chiefly ale. On Sunday Higham seemed to be the rendezvous of all the parishes in the neighbourhood. Nearly all Rushden was there — consequently the places of worship there suffered considerably in the number of their congregations, things temporal being apparently more attractive than things spiritual. Higham Church on the other hand was crowded, a large number of visitors being present. The sermon was preached by the Rev. J. Dun, and during the service, which was full choral, the choir, conducted by Mr. A. Wright, sang “O Father, Whose Almighty power” from Handel’s Judas Maccabaeus. Before church-time a concert was given on the Market-hill by the Rushden National Band under Mr.Bridgeford, the following pieces being listened to by a large audience: — March, “Collingwood”; selection, “Stiffelio”; trombone solo, “Death of Nelson,” Mr. H. Clayson; anthem, “Glory to God”; selection, “Bohemian Girl”; euphonium solo (Mr. W Bird), “Village Blacksmith”; hymn, “Edwin Stone.” Monday was a general holiday, and the Square was filled with stalls, while a field near the Board Schools was entirely occupied by shows and all the accompaniments of a fair. Visiting this field at night we found it crowded, and blazing with light, and redolent of naptha, and were deluged with that mysterious mixture known as “the fun of the fair.” We are induced to spend sevenpence in endeavouring to place a ball in what reminds us of an enlarged “upper” — (this is printers’ phraseology — no connection with leather uppers) — in other words a large box divided into a number of compartments just large enough to admit a ball. As a natural consequence, 99 times out of 100 the ball strikes the bars, and bounds off the case altogether. If you are lucky enough to throw in the hundredth ball you are rewarded with an ornament value about twopence. We should like, “above all things in the world,” (as Llewellyn, in “Valentine Vox” would say) to try our prowess with the rifle, and are surprised at the accommodating nature of the weapon in the matter of recoil, upon which a friend cynically hints that “perhaps the charge was weak.” This charge was indignantly repelled by the damsel who charges the rifle. We secure a coconut (very dear) and then witness several bouts with the gloves, an art exhibitor outside providing an accompaniment to the “noble art” inside, a sublime (?) rendering of Handel’s “ Hallelujah” (by Handle). After passing a show of a “non-descriptive” nature, we patronise a peep-show, induce nausea on the swing-boats accelerate it on the switchback, and after casting a longing look at the “gallopers,” and being tempted to take an aerial flight, go home, content with the variety of attractions at Higham Feast.

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