Rewind to Norfolk Day, 1880s style!
PUBLISHED: 17:21 12 July 2019 | UPDATED: 17:21 12 July 2019
Ann Edwards Collection
It's nearly here. On July 27 we will be celebrating Norfolk Day. Derek James looks back at an extraordinary event which took place on July 27 1872 bringing parts of the county to a standstill and it's happening again...maybe on a smaller scale this time
It was the Lord of the Manor John Bathurst Graver Brown who threw open the grounds of his home Morley Park as a gesture of thanks to the people who had supported his wedding the year before.
And when the local squire and his wife put up banners saying "Welcome to Morley" it is estimated 10,000 people turned up shutting down Attleborough and Wymondham.
The story of this special celebration 147 years ago has been discovered by Morley St Peter historian Ann Edwards who tells me the next fete will be held on exactly the same day. July 27 when Norfolk Day will be celebrated.
Let's turn the clock back and take a look at the reports of the event which appeared in the local papers at the time. The Norfolk Chronicle and the Wymondham Observer among them.
This was a day when the rich and poor, the old and young headed for Morley Park...many walking miles for a day of fun and games.
The report of this special event is written in such a wonderful way....as follows.
"Welcome to Morley, these were the cheering words which met the eye over the entrances to Morley Park, the seat of J B Graver Browne. The roads leading to Morley were alive with vehicles of every description, and thousands of people not able to afford a seat in some one or other of the many conveyances were content to go on foot and to encounter alike the fatigue of heat and the unpleasantness of dust.
"Shops were closed in Wymondham and Attleborough, so as to give those employed in the opportunity of accepting the invitation they had received of joining in the grand fete which for some weeks it had been announced would take place in Morley Park, though the great kindness and the sterling liberality of the well-known and as well-beloved square and his lady, Mr and Mrs Graver Browne.
"To throw freely open one's park and grounds to ten thousand people is in itself a gracious and considerate act but to undertake to provide amusement for them and to supply tea is an undertaking which many ladies and gentlemen would shrink from incurring entailing as it necessarily must, apart from expense, a considerable amount of anxiety.
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"This was not so with Mr and Mrs Graver Browne. Joyously recalling the 19th of April 1871, when they plighted their troth each to the other, they remembered with gratitude their return to Morley, after their wedding tour, and how then all classes, high and low, rich and poor, with another, welcomed their back with cordiality and sincerity that would not fail to make, as it has made, a lasting impression on their memory."
The report went on to make the point that the squire had been long known to and esteemed by the tenants on the Morley estate; her had spent his young life amongst them and they had tested his worth.
His wife, as a scion of the Stracey family - a family dear to many a Norfolk home - was no stranger to them and they rightly anticipated that in the exercise by her of those qualities of generosity of hospitality and the solicitude for the wants of others.
In other words the Graver Brown's were much loved and they arranged for a committee to organise the fete.
The report went on: "There was nothing to mar the success of the day. The weather was brilliantly fine. All the folk. Who were hay in their holiday attire, merrily joined in the sports provided for them
"In a pit two monster coppers were temporarily erected for the supply of hot water. Besides thousands of people partaking of an abundant tea of bread and butter and plum cake, buns were distributed among 2,000 children who, during the afternoon amused themselves by toppling over the grass, by a merry-go-round on steam horses.
"The adults found plenty to occupy their attention in inspecting the tastefully laid out gardens, lingering in the pretty Italian garden, in having a peep at the hall, in joining in hurdle, bicycle and donkey races, football etc."
A cricket match between Attleborough and Wymondham ended in a draw and there was even facilities set up by the General Post Office so people could send letters and telegrams free of charge to say where they were.
Music was provided by the band of the Attleborough Rifle Corps and the Wymondham Corps.
The day ended with parades and speeches from local dignitaries who included Lord Cardross, the Hon Lady Phipps, Sir Henry and the Misses Stracey, E Stracey, and Mrs Stracey, J C Croucock, Mrs Edwards (Hardingham Hall), Miss Bridges Clarke, the Rev Canon Eden, Dudley Stracey, Kingston Stracey, the Rev B Cooper, E P Clarke and Mrs Clark, Major and Mrs C E Bignold, the Rev F 1111B de Chair and so many more.
Three cheers were given, the band struck up God Bless the Prince of Wales, the National Anthem was played, and the people disappeared into the night. What a day.