Huddersfield Chronicle (29/May/1852) - District News: Holmfirth
Discovery of the Late Mr. J. Sandford's Watch. — At the sale of unclaimed salvage Mr. T. Bamforth purchased a broken silver dial lever watch, which about five weeks ago he took to Mr. Richardson, of Huddersfield, to get repaired. He at the same time expressed a wish that the owner might be found, in order that the watch might be restored. Mr. Richardson on ascertaining the number of the watch and referring to his book, found that some seven or eight years ago he had sold the watch to Mr. Jonathan Sandford, and that in June, 1846, he had repaired it for him. He immediately informed Mr. Bamforth, Mr. William Moore, and other gentlemen, of his discovery, and it soon got to the knowledge of Mr. Samuel Sandford, to whom all claim has been surrendered ; and who, after the needful repairs are executed, will no doubt preserve it as a fond memento of his lost son.
The Feast. — During the early portion of the present week the yearly holiday, yclept “Holmfirth Feast,” has been held, and some hundreds of strangers have partaken of the cheer provided by the people of the valley, celebrated for many miles round for their hospitality. The origin of this feast is lost in the misty past ; and from all the enquiries we have made we are not able to throw much light on its early history. All that we know we have gathered from several old people, now on the wintry side of sixty years. The existence of the feast is no doubt co-equal with that of the church; and it was once more properly called a rushbearing. The feast formerly commenced on the Holy Thursday and ended with the week. The church at that time destitute of pews in the bottom ; the floor was covered with rushes, and it was the custom of the people to have a general holiday time commencing on the above day, in order to clear away the old rushes from the floor of the church and cover it with a fresh supply, brought from the marshy grounds or neighbouring moors. This was done in great state. After the rushes were gathered together, the people made what is called a “rush-cart,” which they decorated with gold, ribbons, and tissue-paper of various colours. The rush-cart was surmounted with the branches of trees, amongst which one or two men used to ride. The people then, with their heads and breasts adorned with gold and ribbons, yoked themselves to the cart, and drew it in state to the church doors, where it was pulled in pieces and the clean rushes distributed through the church in order that they might worship comfortably during the succeeding year. The inhabitants, whose houses they passed on their route, treated them profusely with “nut brown,” and made a merry time of it. We have met with several old people who can remember several of the last rush-carts, which were built at Cliff, and brought to Holmfirth past Wooldale Town End. The rushes of which they were made were cut from the land now known as the Bowshaw Whams. Some one who, after having two or three days’ holiday, did not like to “buckle to” his work again all at once, introduced the custom of bull or bear baiting on the Monday following the rushbearing. The precise date when this took place is not known; but after the annual supply of rushes ceased to be required for the church, the commencement of the holiday was gradually transferred from Holy Thursday to the following Sunday or Monday. As increased knowledge dawned on the people of the valley, and their manners became softened by better influences, the bull and bear baiting fell into desuetude ; and now, though many things are done during the feast which ought to be left undone, its general character is more in keeping with the manners of the age. In consequence of the flood, and the badness of trade, there was an universal impression on the public mind that the feast would be a poor one, and not sustain the high character of its predecessors. We are, however, glad to say, thanks, we suppose, to the thrift and good management of the people, there seemed to be in most houses a plentiful supply of good cheer, and the numerous friends and relatives of the inhabitants, who poured into the valley from all points of the compass, were heartily welcomed at many a cottage home. The number of strangers who visited Holmfirth during the feast (especially on Sunday) was very large, though there was not much congregating together. A great many went up the valley to the disrupted reservoir to note progress. On the Sunday too, the great bulk of the people conducted themselves in a manner which when contrasted with their conduct some twenty years ago, or with the conduct of the people of some neighbouring towns at the present, tells favourably for Holmfirth. We, however, observed some “outcomlings” from the moor edges who had got a drop too much, and with upwards of “three sheets in the wind” were tossing about “half seas over,” and, though “homeward bound,” made but little headway. On the Monday the feast had no particularly distinguishing characteristic. The number of exhibitions and shows and stalls of various kinds catering for public patronage was not so large as on former occasions, and consequently the Babel of dins was not so confounding. The number of visitors was unusually large. Great numbers of youths and maidens from the country poured into the town, — keeping company, of course, though always walking at a most respectable distance. Consequent upon large numbers of young people congregating together, the nut and gingerbread dealers would drive “a gainful trade;” and many an acquaintance would then begin, that may hereafter end in the bonds of hymen. After Monday the feast gradually declined.