Sunday, 11 October 2020

Come ye thankful people come,

 Raise the song of harvest home.

Cro's post today, with its picture of a harvest sheaf loaf brought back so many memories of my childhood in a Lincolnshire village which was largely a Methodist village that I thought I would share them with you (pure self indulgence on my part really).

There were two really important dates for us children in the Methodist calendar.   One was the Sunday School Anniversary in June and the other was Harvest Festival.   We lived very much in a farming community;  there were three or four quite large farms in the village - a couple with milking herds and the other two with mixed crops and sheep and beef cattle.    All four of the farmers were attenders at the Methodist chapel and the Harvest Festival was important to them too.

On the Saturday morning us children would go round the village and every time we saw a garden with Michaelmas daisies growing in it we would go to the door and ask if we could have some.   When we had armfuls we would return to chapel, by which time the Sunday school superintendent would have strung a taut line of baler band across the bottom of each window and we would snip the heads and a small amount of stalk off and tuck them behind the band until every window was bedecked with a row of  purple and yellow heads.

Then we would start on the produce - root vegetables of every kind, scrubbed to total cleanliness, still with their top growth on; stalks of Brussels Sprouts, huge Vegetable Marrows, Pumpkins, a large basket lined with straw and filled with beautiful, newly laid, brown farm eggs, several sheaves of corn brought in by the farmers and a bale of straw as a table for all the tins of fruit, vegetables, meats etc. and the jars of home made pickles and jams    From the pulpit rail to the altar the space would be crammed with produce to celebrate harvest.   And always Pride of Place would be given to the specially baked bread in the shape of a sheaf of wheat all shiny and brown and perfect.

This all had to be finished and the place swept up before lunch time.   Then we would go home for our lunch and told to be back for two when it was time to go round the village.   Oneof the farmers would provide a cart horse and cart, there would be forms round the edges and a harmonium on the end and we would pile in and go round the village singing the harvest hymns.   Then it was back to the sunday school room attached to the chapel where we would tuck in to tea - potted meat sandwiches, cakes and carraway seed cake.   Then the tables would be cleared away and there would be an hour of games - pass the parcel, musical chairs, oats and beans and barley grow, postman's knock.  And finally an hour of films - Mickey Mouse, Popeye, Charlie .Chaplin.   Now we were all set for Sunday.

The usual services morning and evening with all the harvest hymns and then on Monday evening all the produce would be sold and it would all be over for another year.   Looking back - simple pleasures but a lot of this was during the Second World War and boy how we looked forward to it.


19 comments:

Simone said...

That sounds like a wonderful way to spend a weekend Weaver! How precious to have a memory of wonderful simple times.

busybusybeejay said...

Memories for me too.I was also from a strong Methodist background(lapsed now).My brother is a retired Methy Min.
Do you remember “ we plough the fields and scatter the good seed on the ground etc.?

Heather said...

Such lovely childhood memories. I was married in our Parish Church on the Saturday before Harvest Sunday and can remember how beautiful the church looked - flowers and produce everywhere and the Harvest Loaf of course. The wooden pulpit had disappeared behind a screen of flowers and berries.

justjill said...

I too was brought up Methodist. How we sang. Thats what I remember. Not sure what the equivalent to Methodist is in Scotland. I remember signing the pledge not to drink when I was about 8. I have broken that pledge many times.

jinxxxygirl said...

Love reading about your memories Pat.. i too was brought up Methodist until the age of 9 or 10 then religion just slipped away from us all together... But i have fond memories of singing in the choir. Thanks for sharing! Hugs! deb

The Weaver of Grass said...

Jill - same here
Busy - Oh yes - we plough the fields and scatter the good seed on the ground. Indeed.

Bonnie said...

What wonderful memories! Thank you for sharing them. You could write a book filled with all your special memories!

Joanne Noragon said...

What a beautiful description of your Harvest Festival.

angryparsnip said...

Lovely, we joined the Methodist Church as adults and our children were raised there.
I was raised Catholic and still consider myself Catholic but the years I spent there with my children were wonderful.

Jan said...

Wonderful memories of a simpler time.

Cro Magnon said...

I remember that after the Harvest Festival service, people were encouraged to take home what they brought. My mother had once taken some very beautiful Apples, and later back at the house I ate one. My mother asked me how I'd liked it, I replied it was delicious. She then told me she's waxed them to make them look better.

thelma said...

Beautiful memories of a happy childhood time, we have lost a lot of the fellowship of the churches.

Jill said...

It was interesting to read that you said that at the end of the festival the produce was sold - in our village the produce was given to the poor. That still happens now in our village community, the produce is put into parcels and taken to the elderly and the needy. No money changes hands. Who benefitted from the money paid at your festivals?

John "By Stargoose And Hanglands" said...

Apart from donating a few veg I don't think I ever got involved with Harvest Festival - though I got involved in harvest itself for many years. My mother became a Methodist in the last few years of her life, but only because the Methodist chapel was a modern, centrally-heated and wheelchair-accessible building whereas the village church was not. I don't think she ever knew what the religious differences were.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Jill - I think it probably went into chapel funds. I think many people at the time thought it should have been given to the needy but this is often difficult to do in a very small village - in those days no one wished to be seen to receive charity.
Ceo - I love your story!

Thanks everyone for sharing.

Tom Stephenson said...

I loved the smell of a Harvest Festival inside an old church.

Anonymous said...

Hi,Has anyone else noticed John Gray's blog only has older posts before the one about his blogging break?

Concerned, - Mary

Ruth said...

Here's that beautiful hymn: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=du-5yPKfSRc

I love to read your memories, memories of life as it was really meant to be. Having a Methodist background, or any other faith, is what made you and all your dear followers the good people they are today. Those days and those morals are slipping away, faster now than ever. Some day what's written about it in books will be all that's left - that is, if the books are allowed to exist.

Thank you dear Pat - please continue to share your memories.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Thanks everyone.