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Bow Brickhill feast
By the late Audrey Odell
who also supplied the recipe below for Bow Brickhill Steamed Pudding.

The Bow Brickhill Feast was revived in 2010 and held again in 2011, 2012.  In 2013 following the description below the event became much more a village festival and we hope that it will continue to be so through many decades to come.

Fairs and mops abound in Great Britain, but lesser events, the local feasts, have played a great part in village life. Such is the case with Bow Brickhill.

Originally a farming area the hireling fair was one of great importance.The event, a mini fair , was staged in the field known as Chapman’s Orchard and conveniently placed near the old Wheatsheaf Inn. Its origins are lost in time but in November of every year preparations for keeping of the feast would begin and the 13th of the month was the great day itself. 

At this period of time many of the villagers kept a pig to produce meat for the coming months. A man well versed in the art of “pig sticking” journeyed to Bow Brickhill with is assistant, his rack and his scrappers, and knowledge of where hot water would be available. His task performed he adjourned to the local hostelry and the village folk set about their business of preparing for the feast supper. After several days had elapsed fair ground people, together with local Charlie and Liza Hawkes, set up their stall in Chapman’s Orchard. A merry-go-round, swing boats, and home made toffee (striped with a flavouring of peppermint); toffee apples and the like were in evidence.

The great excitement of the day was the arrival of the Bletchley Town Band, led, on occasions, by a rider on a white horse, one Joe Hackles, a village celebrity, as horseman. Farmers from all over the district arrived with one end in view, to hire farm workers for the coming year and to engage a servant for the hard working wife. Smocks and handkerchiefs, battered old caps and hats, boots and leggings (polished especially for the occasion) were much in evidence and women folk lined up in mobcaps and aprons with a curtsey at the ready. 

The hiring contract followed, doubtless over convivialities at the local pub. The children, tired by happy after the excitement of the day returned to their homes where their mothers began to prepare a large dish of pigs’ chitterlings as the main item. 

On the following Sunday it was the custom to continue with the festivities. After church and chapel services the village folk returned to their homes for a splendid roast pork with crackling and apple sauce, followed by a generous helping of well boiled plum pudding; a restful after noon followed. All were pleased with the jollifications and so ended Bow Brickhill feast for another year. 

Bow Brickhill Steamed Pudding

1/2 a pound of mixed Fruit
3 ounces of fresh bread crumbs
3 ounces of suet
3 ounces of carrot
2 ounces of plain flour
1 ounce of cut peel
2 ounces of Demerara sugar
1/2 a sour apple
1/2 teaspoon of spice
1/2 teaspoon almond essence
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 pint of ale

Mix and leave overnight for bread to swell.  
Steam for several hours.

Serve after roast pork and trimmings!

 

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