The Horsley Church Fete, Gloucestershire – 17th September 2011

The Horsley church fete is such a momentous annual occasion in our lives that lots of great memories are formed around it.  There is nothing like the first fete in your new village to investigate the character of the village you have moved to, walking apprehensively through lines of bargain hunters, past the silver band and under the bunting. As young newlyweds, my husband and I quickly realised we had struck the jackpot.

With the finest cream teas for miles around and some bric a brac that even Cath Kidston would break her right arm for, we knew we had landed.  In the years following there lingers the memory of parading our first newborn in the then obligatory Land Rover buggy to the coos and woos of the villagers.  Now there is the endless cry for just one more £1 Mummy, for another failed attempt at the tombola.

As years go by the fete has been tweaked and improved, for us it’s become a lot more about the children, but reassuringly the essentials remain the same. The cream tea is still delicious and the strong bent for locally produced food has grown and grown and grown.  The famous and formidable Horsley sausage in a Hobbs House jumbo finger roll will give you a tasty hot dog fill whilst keeping food miles to a minimum.  The Horsley Orchard project sells preserves and works hard pressing apples: you are encouraged to bring along your apples and good wind falls, have a turn in the deck chair slicing and pressing, and for your effort you’ll be rewarded with your own prize bottle of Horsley apple juice to take home. Then there’s the cake stall with an ambitious and enviable selection of great home baking, each plate as diverse as its baker, hinting at Horsley’s breadth of influence and rich diversity (well, for Gloucestershire anyway).

If it’s cake you’re after, guessing the weight of a fruit cake to win it is a treasured classic, or buy a raffle ticket to be in with a chance of winning a Hobbs House Bakery Matildaesque chocolate cake.  For the first year the mighty Winstones Ice Creams, an artisanal family business since 1925, will be trundling the refrigerated van from over the common to scoop their finest frozen fare for us all.  If you fancy something stronger, in a glass and pint sized, then there’s beer from the award winning Stroud Brewery.

This year is the first year of the Horsley Produce show, with adult categories such as best jam, roses in a vase, best loaf and the longest runner bean.  The children have their own categories including the finest pizza and the biggest sunflower.  Judged by Hobbs House Bakery and a revered local farmer, the competition is sure to be tough.  Watch out though, it will be my victoria sponge and marmalade winning (fighting talk/competitive spirit), but I am not convinced the redcurrant jelly has got the edge.

What is great about this fete is how it encompasses all of the community, young and old, from the football team to the landowners, all there running their own stalls, from the balloon race to see whose balloon flies the furthest (last year’s winner reached France) to an impromptu ride in a vintage motorbike and sidecar which proved more of a hit around the field than the ponies.  All to the accompaniment of Clog dancers and the Nailsworth Silver Band.

Of course, this is Horsley, so the Rosettes will be recycled, the compere will be eccentric, sporting a panama hat no doubt, and loud enough to make electronic amplification unnecessary. I am convinced you will feel you have struck gold with a quintessential summer fete. This rural idyll and yesteryear scene, a bonkers  Archers, Hobbit-Shires, and  Enid Blyton hybrid, is actually very progressive and contemporary. There is a deep rooted heart for sustainability and community, being lived out in a way that is open, welcoming, hardworking and fun loving.

The program, attractions and passion for all things local gives structure to this much anticipated yearly event, but it’s the people we love and the times we’ll share there. Held on September 17th, as the combine harvesters are put away stop and the hay bales are stacked for winter, it is the perfect celebratory end to a hopefully balmy English summer.

Contact Details

Anna Herbert’s Blog:

Hobbs House Bakery:

Winstones Ice Cream:

Nailsworth Silver Band:

Horsley Orchard Project:

Stroud Brewery:

Emma Bradshaw Photography:

Similar Posts