WEEKEND WEB: The wonder of countryside life

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Tim Machin, of Long Sutton Civic Society, with his column, Looking Back.

One of the many attractions of living in a small rural community is the increased sense of fellowship and participation that many town and city dwellers miss out on. I have lived in both and there is far more going on in my community in and around Long Sutton then ever there was in my neighbourhood of a major city.

Quintessential English village life revolves around the village hall and church and, if it has survived, the village pub. The clubs and societies, flower festival, quiz nights, bingo and annual village show.

Long Sutton, a small market town serving a wide catchment of smaller places, has always punched well above its weight. A market charter granted by King John over 800 years ago put it on the trading map.

Subsequent monarchs also granted charters and the town was able to operate markets three days a week, plus holiday markets. A corn exchange, markets, coaching inns, wildfowling all brought outsiders in who required sustenance and entertainment. So hotels, eating houses, pubs, societies, clubs, street entertainment, events grew.

The Agricultural Society organised regular competitions and by the 1870s the town was holding it’s own annual agricultural show.

The fraternal and philanthropic Oddfellows organisation was established locally by the 1830s and started organising community events, including probably the first flower festival in Long Sutton.

The event in 1900, however, was not well attended apparently and made a loss despite the efforts of the band of the South Notts Hussars delighting those who did attend. Not so today, when the festival, revived in the 1960s, now attracts thousands each year to the parish church.

The Oddfellows meet no more, but their role in organising local entertainments has been taken up by other community groups including EELS (Events and Entertainments in Long Sutton), with an annual summertime Music in the Park event, and Christmas Grotto and the Market House Trust, who put on a programme of events, music and movies.

The agricultural show has also gone, but there is now an annual pony and dog show alongside a whole array of other events and activities for local folk to enjoy.

In an era when social media and home entertainment seem to have overtaken our need for face-to-face interaction, it is great to live in a place that has so much going on.

A mile down the road in the small village of Lutton this Saturday for example is the annual Lutton Village Show at the village hall.

A cake competition, jams and pickles, flower arrangements, food, conversation, laughter, friendship.

A local community coming together to celebrate life in rural Lincolnshire, like they have done for centuries.