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Photo gallery: Treacle eating and velocipedes star in Whissonsett village fete of 150 years ago

10:19 26 May 2014

Ann English with the poster which has returned to Whissonsett from America after 150 years. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Ann English with the poster which has returned to Whissonsett from America after 150 years. Picture: Matthew Usher.

© Archant Norfolk 2014

While the traditional summer fete has become a village life staple for centuries, the activities and events have changed with the times.

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That is certainly the case in Whissonsett, where a newly-returned poster dating back to the late 1800s has revealed that treacle eating and hot tea drinking were pastimes of yesteryear.

The poster dates back to 1871 and features rural sports which used to take place on the field known as the race course off Hurn Lane.

Now, 150 years later, it has been returned to the village near Fakenham from America, after Doug Roberts, who lives in Florida, discovered it amongst his late father-in-law’s belongings.

After looking up where Whissonsett was on the internet, Mr Roberts made contact with village historian Ann English. The pair struck a deal for the sale of the poster and the fragile 3ft by 18in artefact is now hanging up in Mrs English’s kitchen until it is given a permanent home in the village.

Mrs English said the poster had ended up in America after the Rudd family, a well known family in the village at the time, emigrated from Whissonsett to the States in 1840.

She said Mr Roberts’ father-in-law was a descendant of the Rudd family.

“The poster is only of interest to people in Whissonsett and it’s the only one we are likely to find so I was determined to have it and I’m glad we’ve got it,” said Mrs English, who looks after the village archive.

“It’s attracted some interest in Fakenham too as it mentions velocipede racing which was organised with the help of the Jarrood family at Fakenham. They specialised in velocipedes, which were bikes with no pedals – they were big at the time.”

Activities listed on the poster include three-legged race, a foot race for married men and a foot race for married women plus a “every man to find his own sack” race.

The poster will be on display in the church at the village fete on June 21.

Coincidentally, Mrs English was sent a bundle of old family papers from another descendent of the wealthy Rudd family, Gordon Birdsey, a few years ago.

Among the papers were letters dated between 1840 and 1870 from Whissonsett which included all kinds of family news and observations on the government, taxes, the rising price of cotton after the American Civil War and a general glimpse of life in a Norfolk village more than 150 years ago.

Are you helping to discover more about the history of the area where you live? Email kate.scotter@archant.co.uk

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