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1859: Procession and many toasts at the Harvest Festival

A harvest festival of a new character was celebrated for the first time at Cuckfield, on Tuesday, the 30th ult. Holy Communion was celebrated at eight. The Church was most elaborately decked with wreaths formed of wheat, barley, oats, etc., mixed with oak, ivy, and flowers. The chancel screens, especially, displayed great taste and care in their decoration the capitals of the nave-piers were encircled with flowers, etc, and over each was placed a small sheaf, backed with laurel, and ornamented with geraniums and dahlias; the altar lights and vases displayed a profusion of choice flowers.

An arch was erected at the churchyard gate, over which was the inscription (in dahlias) “ O Praise the Lord.” Soon after eleven a procession entered the town, consisting of the clergy, churchwardens, and gentry, followed by farm labourers, bearing sheaves on poles and instruments of the harvest, a band, and a waggon gaily decked, numerous flags, the farmers and their men, etc, and marched to the Church, which was crowded to excess. The hymns were “Father of mercies, God of love,” “Lord of the Harvest, once again,” and Mr Neale’s new hymn “God the Father, Whose Creation,” etc.

The sermon was preached by the Vicar; after service all proceeded to Cuckfield Park, the seat of W Sergison, Esq., who placed his grounds at the disposal of the Committee, and sat down to a good plain dinner. The toasts given were “The Queen”, “The Harvest Home and may we have more of them”, “The Squire” and then began the sports, which continued till five o’clock, when tea was provided fur the women and children. At eight o’clock there was again a large attendance at Church, when the service consisted of a Processional Hymn (145th Psalm), vespers (full choral), and a sermon by the Rev H Hawkins, the curate, and chaplain to the Sussex Lunatic Asylum.

Brighton Gazette, 8 September 1859

Photo: Two stained glass panels from the Victoria and Albert Museum that it acquired in 1923 from the sale of the contents of Cassiobury Park in Hertfordshire. Entitled, Labours of the Months 'July - haymaking' and 'August - harvest', 1450-1475.

Contributed by Malcolm Davison.


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