Honley Feast (1862)

The 1862 Honley Feast took place between Sunday 21 September and Wednesday 24 September.

The main attraction of the previous feast had been a racetrack laid out on a field next to the George and Dragon Inn and the 1862 feast sought to capitalise on its popularity. The landlord of the inn, Mr. J. Haigh, appears to have placed a number of advertisements in the national press, including one that appeared in Bell's Life in London (31/Aug/1862):

St. George's Race Ground, Honley, Huddersfield.

J. Haigh of the George and Dragon will give £12 to be run for in a half mile handicap. 1s. 6d. to enter and 2s. more to accept. All entries to be made on or before Sept 9, and acceptances the following week. To be run Sept 23 and 24, Honley feast days. All entries to be sent to J. Haigh, the George and Dragon Inn, Honley. Any one entering falsely will be disqualified.

J. Spencer of Huddersfield and W. Seele of Saddleworth are matched to run 300 yards, for £25 a side. £5 is already down in the hands of S. Nortliffe, who is to be final stakeholder and referee. A similar sum to be staked Sept 3. Both men are in active training, and a clipping race is expected.

A. Barrat of Huddersfield and F. Sinnot of Lockwood are matched to run, for £10 a side, at the above grounds, on Saturday, Sept 20. £5 a side is already down in the hands of J. Crow, who is to be final stakeholder and referee.

Prior to the feast, the Chronicle reported that grocers in Honley had sold large quantities of "cabbage and unyons" and resident butchers had "slaughtered a goodly stock of really prime beef." Perhaps in reference to rumours in previous years of outbreaks of diseases, the newspaper stated that "as for the village itself, there is not one in Yorkshire better drained."[1]

The Chronicle reviewed the feast and noted that the Sunday had been quieter than previous years, but the weekdays had been extremely busy. In the £25 race, which attracted around 2,000 spectators, Spencer of Huddersfield won easily. The number of stall-holders was disappointing, but things picked up on Wednesday with the arrival of Pablo Fanque's famous circus, "with a fine stud of horses and troupe of equestrians."[2] Fanque's circus stayed on until Friday.[3]

A young boy named William Duncan was caught stealing two pen knives from the stall of Robert Wood. As the boy had previous convictions, the magistrates came down hard and sentenced him to one month at the Wakefield House of Correction to be followed by five years at a Reformatory.[4]

Notes and References

  1. "Honley: Signs of the Feast" in Huddersfield Chronicle (20/Sep/1862).
  2. Born William Darby, Pablo Fanque (1796-1871) was the first non-white British circus owner. His circus was one of the best-known and most popular in the country, and he is immortalised in the Beatles song, "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!". See Wikipedia: Pablo Fanque.
  3. "Honley: The Village Feast" in Huddersfield Chronicle (27/Sep/1862).
  4. "A Young Thief at Honley Feast" in Huddersfield Chronicle (27/Sep/1862).