The timeless attraction of the traditional English summer fête

Traditional garden fêtes may have been thin on the ground this year, but it will take more than a few months in quarantine to snuff out an English tradition which, as these rare archive pictures illustrate, is as old as the hills that serve as their backdrop.

Roses and Poke Bonnets At Old English Fayre, Young women from East Riding villages decorating themselves with roses at the massed 'Old English Fayre' held at North Fernl, East Yorkshire, yesterday (Sat), North Fernly, East Yorkshire. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Roses and Poke Bonnets At Old English Fayre, Young women from East Riding villages decorating themselves with roses at the massed 'Old English Fayre' held at North Fernl, East Yorkshire, yesterday (Sat), North Fernly, East Yorkshire. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

It is a season that starts with dances around the Maypole, and ends, or used to, with the weighing of the first gooseberries of autumn – a tradition that endures to this day in the North York Moors village of Egton Bridge.

In between are cake stalls, carousels and all manner of fairground games, from the politically incorrect Aunt Sally, in which contestants throw sticks at a model of a women’s head, to the arcane Yorkshire ball game of knurr and spell. Taken together, they are as sure a sign of summer as a wet bank holiday weekend.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Editor’s note: first and foremost - and rarely have I written down these words with more sincerity - I hope this finds you well.

26th July 1939: Children in fancy dress costume, though the one dressed as a nurse is taking it too seriously as she treats a 'casualty'. (Photo by John F. Stephenson/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)

Almost certainly you are here because you value the quality and the integrity of the journalism produced by The Yorkshire Post’s journalists - almost all of which live alongside you in Yorkshire, spending the wages they earn with Yorkshire businesses - who last year took this title to the industry watchdog’s Most Trusted Newspaper in Britain accolade.

And that is why I must make an urgent request of you: as advertising revenue declines, your support becomes evermore crucial to the maintenance of the journalistic standards expected of The Yorkshire Post. If you can, safely, please buy a paper or take up a subscription. We want to continue to make you proud of Yorkshire’s National Newspaper but we are going to need your help.

Postal subscription copies can be ordered by calling 0330 4030066 or by emailing [email protected]. Vouchers, to be exchanged at retail sales outlets - our newsagents need you, too - can be subscribed to by contacting subscriptions on 0330 1235950 or by visiting www.localsubsplus.co.uk where you should select The Yorkshire Post from the list of titles available.

If you want to help right now, download our tablet app from the App / Play Stores. Every contribution you make helps to provide this county with the best regional journalism in the country.

Ely Fete And Carnival, The Cardiff Coíoperative Day celebrations were held at Ely Racecourse, Cardiff, yesterday. The procession commenced from Fitzalen Place, Cardiff, and passed through the City. - The Carnival Queen, 16 year old Hila Slimings of Porthcawl, and her Court in procession through the City, Cardiff, South Wales. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Sincerely. Thank you.

James Mitchinson, Editor

26th June 1919: Mrs Denys Selby Bigge, Mrs Bowes-Lyon, Mrs Davison and Lady Selby Bigge attend the Blue Triangle Fair. (Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)
15th July 1913: Tricycle decorated as a swan ridden by a boy in a sailor suit, at the Childrens Fete and Gala, Taggs Island. (Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)