THE VILLAGE CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS
For almost twenty years the week before Christmas has seen the appearance of home made Christmas Decorations, variously know as "wreaths" or "garlands", tied to lamposts or telephone poles in twenty or so locations around the village.
They appear as if by magic but are, in fact, the result of a good deal of work by a dedicated band of volunteers.
See here for picture gallery.
Pauline Flynn describes the origins and history of these decorations as follows:
In the early 1990s a meeting was called at Joan Oakley’s house (Ivy Cottage) of the Sulgrave W.I. and some church members. A big problem was foreseen at the forthcoming carol singing round the village – “How could we manage now that Emma Cave is no longer able to lead us round the roads on the back of an illuminated, decorated Wootton Builders’ truck (driven by Albert Cleaver), playing an organ and looking like Santa himself?”
Well, we could certainly sing with the help of lanterns and torches and maybe the odd musical instrument, but how would we know where to stop in order to perform?
After much debate, I suggested that we might tie bunches of holly and mistletoe on certain lamp posts or buildings where appropriate.
The idea was accepted and that was the beginning of what has become an annual tradition.
Our first meeting was in Dorothy Pett’s kitchen (Sunnymead). Having seen the resulting debris on her floor we decided that other more suitable premises were needed! Roger and Maureen Jeffery offered the use of their barn in the garden of Harry’s Cottage and this became the start of the “Barn Industry” every year until quite recently, when things moved to the Church Hall.
Our “wreaths” as we called them were now mounted on frames of chicken wire (yes, some came from old chicken sheds in the village) with local holly, conifer branches, ivy and whatever other greenery various villagers donated, along with ribbons and artificial flowers given from chocolate boxes. Roger Cherry (Dial House Farm) gave a huge bundle of binder twine for tying up the wreaths (still used today), so in fact they didn’t really cost a bean!
For many years our willing workers turned out into the cold barn each December and we shared many sparkling bits of gossip along with the coffee and chocolate biscuits as we worked. The wreath makers were Ruth and Ray Fowler, Julie Metcalfe (along with a friend from Devon), Dorothy Pett, Eileen Roberts, Joyce White and myself.
My husband Pat, who helped George Metcalfe to erect the wreaths round the village, sadly died in 2000 and Colin Wootton kindly stepped in.
By 2004 the years were starting to take their toll and several of the original team were no longer able to turn out.
Luckily, George and Julie Metcalfe, along with Colin Wootton, were reluctant to see this lovely new custom die out so, with different villagers helping out each time but the original chicken wire frames and even the ribbons carrying on through the years, the Christmas wreaths will hopefully continue as an annual tradition in Sulgrave.
Apple Acre 10th December 2006