Histon Pudding Festival Outing
Organising a tower outing can sometimes be a little difficult – the ‘where’ and ‘when’ to go sometimes becoming surprisingly high hurdles to clear. However, this year there seemed to be an obvious candidate. Once every 21 years, a pudding festival is held in the small village of Aughton, near Hornby, Lancashire. That was sufficient draw for the ringers of Histon, Cambridgeshire to make the trip up to the area for the weekend of 23rd to 26th August.
The format of the Pudding Festival is that a single, very large pudding is cooked. The festival began in 1782 after a local basket-weaving firm realised that they could use their newly commissioned boiler to make a large pudding. We heard that this year the 9cwt pudding was put on to cook on the 10th August, some 16 days before serving it. The composition of the pudding was something of a mystery – the only information available beforehand was that it most definitely isn’t Christmas pudding, but subtly implying it would be quite like Christmas pudding!
To accompany a pudding, we’d need at least a side-helping of ringing. On the Friday the direction was out west – the band visited Cartmel Priory (with interesting access across the roof to the ringing chamber), Flookburgh, Kirkby-in-Furness and Dalton-in-Furness. On Saturday, we travelled eastwards, where we were welcomed at the towers of Low Bentham, Clapham, Giggleswick and Settle.
On Sunday morning, a few of the band rang for service at Milnthorpe before heading towards Morecambe Bay for a lunchtime walk. Later, as part of the more formal ringing programme, the band had been invited to ring a quarter peal for evensong at Beetham, an excellent 9cwt six. The opportunity to ring something connected to the festival was too much to resist, especially given how close the tenor weight was to that of the pudding! The quarter was a pleasure to ring, and it was also pleasing to find out more about the church from a few appreciative locals who had gathered outside the church to meet the ringers.
To mark the opening of the pudding festival on the Monday morning, we rang a date touch at Kirkby Lonsdale. We were grateful for the help of a local ringer, Andrew White, especially as he’d provided valuable assistance in helping plan our tour. Then, finally, after waiting several years, it was time to go to the festival! We’d contacted the organisers several months earlier and they allowed us the opportunity to demonstrate our handbells (recently restored by Bernard Stone). For some unfathomable reason, we appeared in a section of the programme labelled ‘English Eccentrics’. Am I alone in thinking that is something of an accolade from a village which produces one enormous pudding per generation?
David Richards Tower Captain, Histon, St Andrew
1296 Christmas Pudding Delight Minor at Beetham, 25th August 2013
1782 Mixed Minor (3m: Christmas Pudding Delight, Cambridge Surprise, Bastow Little Bob, composed by D C W Richards) at Kirkby Lonsdale, 26th August 2013
PS. If anyone is interested, the pudding was like Christmas pudding