A PAGE OF JOY


Well, Rushden Feast came and went this year without me getting a chance to stroll around Spencer Park enjoying the excitement of a night filled with the lights, sounds and smells, seeing familiar faces and jostling with the crowd.. I was sorry to miss all this because I’ve had so many good times “ Down the Feast ” in former years, especially when I was young and carefree, and the rides didn’t make me feel queasy. 
Oh, the fun we teenagers had with our mates! 

Flirting was the order of the day,, as was much laughter and squealing when we were spun round in the Waltzer by the Fairground lads, and I loved the Dodgems and the Hot - dogs and was a pretty good shot with an air - rifle. 
And do you remember The Crockery King? 

Now – if you are new to the area, you might be wondering about the term “ Feast ” - surely I’m talking about the Fun - Fair – yes of course, but Rushden’s Fair is always called THE FEAST, because that’s when and why it comes, and has done for many generations.. 
These visits coincide with the FEAST DAY of Rushden’s Parish Church,, St.. Mary’s, 
particularly for The Nativity of The Blessed Virgin on September 8th 

For many years there was a Service of Worship and Praise held on the field, with St Mary’s choir and the Rector standing on the steps of one of the big rides: this Sunday afternoon 
service was attended by both townspeople and the fairground families.. 
The fact that The Feast arrives in Rushden for the nearest weekend to September 19th and not to the 8th is down to a mixture of history and stubbornness.. 

In 1582 Pope Gregory XIII decided to revise the old Julian calendar -- 11 days were “ lost ” to make the normal year consist of 365 days, plus 1 Leap Year day every 4 years, this is the Gregorian calendar that we follow today. However it took the English Parliament until 1752 to pass a Bill that provided for Sep. 2nd that year to be followed by Sep. 14th . 
Unfortunately for Rushden – and other churches with the same Patronal Festival – September 8th fell into the “ lost ” period – whoops! 

This didn’t affect St. Mary’s Higham Ferrers, because – as you well know – OUR Patronal Feast is for The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin and OUR Feast Day is on August 15th and that fell outside the “ lost ” days – whew! 
Rather than not celebrate their Feast for that year,, Rushdenites carried on counting as usual, so that the day they called the 8th – the rest of Western Christendom called the 19th 

Eventually most churches dedicated to the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin, fell into line, followed the new calendar, and agreed that September 8th was indeed September 8th and celebrated their Feast Day accordingly.. But not Rushden!! 
From that time forth,, Rushden’s fairground FEAST has always rolled into town for September 19th 
Don’t you just love it!
 Joy Yorke