Mrs Becher's Diary


Harvest Festival

Its Harvest Festival in Tylers Green today and for the first time in 19 years I am not there – and yet it is all so vividly pictured in my mind. The dark frescoed walls and ugly cramped Sanctuary of Frieth Church seem to melt away and I can see the long narrow nave with the cream washed walls and the windows piled high with fruit and vegetables and jam jars filled with chrysanthemums and Michaelmas daisies.

Somewhere there would be a neat loaf of bread shaped like a wheatsheaf and near the door there was always a zinc bath, procured at the last moment, into which would be massed great bunches of daisies and golden rod. The Lectern would have wild berries and a bunch of purple grapes; and the Font a fringe of white chrysanthemums and a wreath of purple corn.

What a mess we all made on the Saturday morning and how the leaves and berries got trampled and squashed down the aisle. Mr Freemantle would bring in his neat sheaf of bamboo – the disposal of which was always such a difficulty.

I can see Pusey laboriously carrying plants one by one, from the nursery over the way and arranging them on either side of the Altar. Once he brought vivid blue and magenta red – which looked magnificent against the emerald green of the Sanctuary carpets.

Special grapes were placed on the Altar and always – in front of the Cross and leaning against it, would be the little Cross I made each year from a handful of Wheat ears.

How fresh and clean it all looked on Sunday morning – the brasses specially cleaned, the surplices newly starched and fresh white linen on the Altar.

The organist begins the voluntary and soon the doors at the bottom of the Church are opened wide, the hymn is given out and the procession of choir and priest start up the aisle to the familiar words: Come ye thankful people come …. The Church is full to overflowing – the little wooden seats are pulled out and the vague restlessness of the unusual congregation is hushed and their voices take up the well-known tune. The organ, just a little ahead, becomes blended with the Choir and the Chancel is reached.

Later on, in the afternoon, the children will bring their gifts and the emptying of the trays must be a back breaking business. For it has become the tradition at Tylers Green that the gifts should be useful: and jam, eggs, fruit and groceries, even toys are presented.