The anniversary of the Sick Society, and the May Fair plus more
1845 – Man Missing from Wigmore
On 4th August 1845, John Palmer went missing in Wigmore, and information as to his whereabouts was sought by John Richardson, the Police Officer of Leintwardine.
He was described as being around six feet high, 35 years old and a little bald with a pale complexion. He was dressed in an old smock frock and brown plush waistcoat with moleskin sleeves; cord breeches and leggins; an old black beaver hat and a pair of very old shoes.
Anyone able to restore John to the Churchwardens, or Overseers of Wigmore, would be well rewarded.
A sad P.S was added “he is in a very low state of mind, having lately returned from an asylum”
A few days later, John Palmer was found drowned in Wigmore-moor lake.
It seems that he had been discharged from the Shrewsbury Lunatic Asylum, and went to live with Samuel Scott, a shoemaker of Wigmore. At the inquest, Samuel said that John’s friends “did not use him well”. He left the house at ten o’clock on the 4th August, but never returned and Samuel assumed that he had gone to a neighbouring house.
The jury at the inquest were disgusted at the way the relatives of John Palmer had so seriously neglected him.
1851 – The Sick Society
The 21st July 1851 was the fourth anniversary of the Sick Society, which was established by Mrs Kevill Davies; it was also coincidentally the birthday of W.T. Kevill Davies of Croft Castle, and the church bells rang out regularly throughout the day in Wigmore.
Society members met at the Castle Inn before going to Wigmore church where the Rev. J.J. Trollope preached to a large congregation; afterwards, everyone went to Wigmore Hall where they were given tea and plum cake. (It was always plum cake, no matter what the occasion!)
Mr. & Mrs. Davies graced the Society with their presence, and were enthusiastically received. Mr. Davies entreated all parents in the parish to ensure that their children were regularly sent to school, as well as Sunday school where they would learn the means of making themselves upright members of the community.
A band supplied music, and the assembled people enjoyed an evening of dancing.
1862 – Description of Wigmore on the May Fair
On the occasion of the May Fair, the following description was posted in the Hereford Journal:
“Wigmore is a very old place, as may be seen at a glance. Quaint looking, half timbered houses are jotted down in the most irregular fashion. The streets are undisturbed masses of stone, and are therefore not readily passable for horses or carriages. On an eminence to the west stood the castle, of which a few walls remain; and it had its Abbey, founded in 1179 for Augustine monks. Many interesting particulars of both may be gathered from the pages of Wright and elsewhere. It is told how Randulph Mortimer wrested the castle from Edrick Silvaticus, Earl of Shrewsbury, and how the family became so great and powerful as to be able to oppose themselves to the regal authority, by which several English monarchs were made to tremble on the throne, an unpleasant condition not uncommon to monarchs in these remove days.
It is not the business of the Wigmorians to make everybody tremble now, but rather the contrary; and whoever goes there will meet with a most peaceful reception, and may be supplied with the best of good things. And many do visit the place, rambling over the ruins of the castle we have spoken of; examining other relics to be met with of bygone ages; and, admiring, from the green hill, one of the most beautiful landscapes in the world.
The May Fair
Once every year, hundreds assemble on this green hill – lads and lasses for the purpose of being hired, and farmers and their wives for the purpose of hiring. That is a great day for Wigmore. What preparations are made for the accommodation of the multitude! There are inns in the village, and exceedingly well conducted ones too; but they are quite inadequate and each private dwelling on the 6th May becomes a public house. Branches of holly or yew serve as signs, generally, though some go to the length of setting up a painted board, after the manner of their legitimate neighbours.
Shows, cake stalls, rifle galleries etc. are there in plenty and are well patronized; and it is mindful to mind your pockets, of which the police are aware.
The weather was unfavourable on Tuesday last, the day of this carnival, but the attendance was not much diminished thereby. In fact the sun shone in the morning, but retired about midday from which period, rain fell.
The consumption of beer, cider etc. must have been very great; and numbers rather overstepped the bounds of propriety, but no very serious disturbance occurred, an efficient staff of the Herefordshire constabulary, under the control of Superintendant Dykes, performing their duties admirably, displaying a proper amount of good humour.
Some day or other, no doubt, this mop fair will have to be spoken of as a thing of the past, the clergy and many of the gentry deprecating such gatherings; but as the feeling of the rural population stands at present, its abolition would be much regretted by them.
Early in the day, there is a display of cattle, sheep etc., but on this occasion the supply was not very large, nor was the demand great. Beef realised 6d per lb, and mutton 7d.