Mawdesley Harvest, Reflections of Village Life

During an evening celebrating Harvest and life in Mawdesley Hannah read a poem written by children at Richard Durning’s Endowed Primary School Kath Tordoff shared her memories of Mawdesley & St Peters Church Harvest in 1940’s

 

This service was always held on the last Sunday in September as a celebration of the completion of harvesting crops of wheat, corn and barley and all local vegetables and fruit.
In those days all the farmer’s fields were full of crops or cattle. Cereal crops were taken to the local mill on Smithy Lane (now converted into a dwelling) to be ground into flower to be used by the local people for bread making.
The church was always packed on Harvest Sunday, all the windows were decorated on Saturday by local people and farmers with the crops which they had grown. Cauliflowers, cabbages, potatoes, carrots, turnips, swedes, tomatoes, apples and pears were on display in the bottom of each window.
Bunches of grapes or bananas were fastened high up in each window. Chrysanthemums, dahlias, gladioli and Michaelmas Daisies were the usual flowers used. This tradition of decorating the windows was passed down through the family. Most windows had a decorative frill at the front made from ears of wheat or corn which were used year after year.
John and Margaret Smith always decorated the alter rails and choir stalls with sprays of Michaelmas Daisies. Later John who grew dahlias displayed these on the floor near the choir stalls.Tom Wignall grew beautiful chrysanthemums these were used to decorate the pulpit which they had gifted to the church probably in memory of a loved one in the family.

There were 2 services of Holy Communion at 7am & 8am, Morning Service 10.30am, afternoon Service 2.30pm and Evensong 6.30pm.
I think the first hymn was ‘Come Ye Thankful People Come’ this was sung with gusto followed by ‘We Plough the Fields and Scatter’ and ‘Praise oh Praise Our God and King.A loaf of bread in the shape of a sheaf of corn and also a basket of eggs were placed on the alter.
There was a well attended Sunday School, Ruth Marsh, Margaret Smith and Irvine Jackson being Sunday School Teachers. Irvine Jackson taught the boys, Ruth the teenage girls and Margaret the small children.
All school and Sunday School Children used to bring small baskets of fruit and vegetables up to the alter during the afternoon service these were taken to the hospitals on Tuesday.

On Monday evening a final harvest service was held then the windows were dismantled, some goods being taken to the sick and elderly of the parish, the remainder going to the hospitals.

In the 1940’s the village had a Smithy situated in the middle of New Street opposite where Frank and Ruth Marsh live.
A cobblers run by Gilbert Marsden where we used to take our clogs for repairs was in a clearing close to the Smithy.
Bread was baked daily by Philip and Maggie Dawson in a shop which is now the Pantry. This shop was later converted into a chip shop but this did not last for very long.
A basket makers at the bottom of the church brow where Billy Dalton and his son Stanley made hampers which were used by the farmers.
Willows were grown in Mawdesley and as a little girl I remember going to the house next door in School Lane where they used to boil the willows and we would strip off the outer bark using a special tool. The smell of boiling willows was one which I will never forget.
Milk was delivered daily by horse and cart from local farmers. My mum used to deliver milk from Grandma’s farm Blackmoor Hall.

Many girls when they reached 14 went to work in the cotton mills in Eccleston, they had to walk or cycle (if they had one) from Mawdesley each day to start work at 7am until 5.15pm Monday to Friday and 7am till 12pm on Saturday all for 6 shillings (30 pence in today’s money) a week.
Men and boys worked on the farms.

Mawdesley featured cobbled streets and drinking water was drawn from various wells around the village.
Lighting either candles or oil lamps, electricity only came to Mawdesley in the 1940’.
A coal fire was in every living room for heating and cooking. Nothing like the comforts we enjoy today.

There have been many changes in Mawdesly since mid 1950’s. We used to know everyone as it was only a little village.

This is just a taste f life in Mawdesley in 1940’s.

Kath Tordoff

 

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