Wath bread throwing: Why the residents of this Yorkshire village will be throwing bread from the top of its church this weekend

As the clock strikes 12 noon on Saturday, bread will be thrown from the spire of All Saints Church in Wath Upon Dearne as a nod to the will of the late Thomas Tuke, who bequeathed money for bread to be donated on St Thomas Day each year.

While this tradition came to an end, it was revived in 1972 by organisers of the Wath Festival which takes place across the early May Bank Holiday.

Instead they chose the Saturday of the festival to continue this tradition.

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“Down in the town centre a man in Victorian wear reads out Thomas’ will before leading a procession to the church tower,” said Stephen Bradwell, who helps to run Wath Hall next door to the church.

Wath Festival's bread throwing traditionWath Festival's bread throwing tradition
Wath Festival's bread throwing tradition

Bread was of huge importance in the Victorian era with families spending a lot of their income on bread. White bread was particularly sought after so much so some Victorian bakers are said to have used alum to whiten the bread as well as bulking ingredients including potatoes, plaster of Paris and sawdust.

One of the Wath Festival organisers, Emma Yerrell, said: “Our famous bread throwing is the highlight of our community event on May 4 as it dates back to the Reverend Thomas Tuke’s time at All Saints Church who left a will detailing many beneficiaries including 40 dozen penny loaves for the poor.

“At 12 noon every May Day we throw these 40 dozen loaves (bread buns) from the top of All Saints Church Tower.”

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Wath festival is a community event which has been running for 51 years. It was originally founded by Eric Pressley who died before the festival in 2022.

The annual bread throwingThe annual bread throwing
The annual bread throwing

Thomas Tuke’s Will is stored upstairs in Wath Hall.

“His will is quite tongue in cheek as well as leaving guineas for bread. He leaves six guineas for the lady who puts him to bed at night.

“There's a bit of political poetic licence,” said Stephen.

The Wath community remains committed to continue to share their pride regarding their heritage through the Wath Festival and a range of other activities all year around.

Stephen said: “There’ll be a fun fair, stalls, dancing and Tesco usually donates the bread .”

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Stephen, who is helping to restore Wath Hall, is also hoping to get a blue plaque this year for Thomas Tuke to ensure his memory doesn’t go stale.

There’ll be other events including a Ceilidh on Friday (May 3) and two concerts on Sunday (May 5) with performances from John Snook & Alan Wood as well as Gaelforce and Gilmore & Roberts.

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