Memories of Beaconsfield

There were great times to be had when we were young in Beaconsfield. Starting in May there was and still is the annual fair which in those days was more in keeping with the 'Olde English Faire'. In addition to the roundabouts, gondolas, swings and hooplas there were many sorts of merchandise for sale. I remember a Mr Bell who came from High Wycombe, a thin man with a moustache who always wore a bowler hat, who pitched his stall in Windsor End. His stalls were set in the form of a square and were heaped to capacity with every conceivable piece of china and crockery.
People from surrounding villages and hamlets would wait for this day to refurbish their depleted stocks of china and crockeryware. There were 'Willow Pattern' tea and dinner services, white everyday china-ware, blue and white striped jugs and many other designs of varied colours and styles.
Mr Bell had children standing around spellbound, for he would stack heaps of plates along his arm and throw plates into the air and then catch them. He drew large crowds and in the evening he auctioned his wares until all his stock had vanished from his stalls.
We had in those days a school treat for the pupils of Windsor End school. This was given by the grandfather of the present Lord Burnham and was held at Hall Barn. A carriage was sent to transport the smaller children, and the older children marched in a very orderly manner to Hall Barn. When they arrived they would find that tea had been set beneath the trees by the Long Parlour, bread and butter, iced buns, macaroons, chocolate and plain swiss rolls.
After tea a man would play a whistle and bang a large drum to start the show. There was a 'Punch and Judy' and all kinds of great fun and we were given free ice cream cornets, served and made by an Italian from High Wycombe by the name of Mr Delnevo. This ice cream was made from corn-flour flavoured with essence of vanilla into a custard and then frozen. At the end of the day each child was given a bag of cherries and a currant bun by Lady Burnham.
The children, tired out from rolling down the slope in front of Hall Barn, were then collected by their parents and taken home.
If by chance the weather was wet then the treat was held in the coach-house.
On another day during the summer a Flower Show was held in Hall Barn Park. Three tents were erected, one for tea, one for flowers, and another for vegetables. There was very keen competition among the exhibitors of flowers and vegetables.
There were many competitions in progress, and a bowling competition for which the prize was a pig. Mr Beach had his roundabout there and the fares were collected by members of the Horticultural Society to help swell their funds.

Nora Croft, Beaconsfield Old Town

Extracted from 'A Pattern Hundreds' (1975) and reproduced with the kind permission of the Buckinghamshire Federation of Women's Institutes

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