Village sports and entertainments
Even if their hours of work were long and hard, villagers were nevertheless extremely active in their time away from work. In addition to the games and dances provided at the Club, football and cricket were played and there were outings for the choir and others, entertainments in the Long Gallery, swimming at the Dairies, the River Kennet and the bathing pool provided by Richard Fellowes Benyon, and the annual Produce Show. In the 19th century, outings for the choir were organised and later there were regular day trips from the Club.
In cold winters when the lake froze, skating took place. In the 1960s the task of testing the ice fell to Arthur Plumb. Many people were to be seen on the ice at the weekends and even some at night when the moon was full. The ice was not always in perfect condition: too much snow falling after it had frozen impeded progress and simultaneous freezing and snowfall created a bumpy surface. Nevertheless a good deal of fun was had and this was a rare opportunity to explore the islands in the lake.
Guy Fawkes’ Night bonfires also became a notable event in the late 60s and 1970s. Previously these had been a matter for individual families, although a group of older lads would often get together to organise a bonfire. Emily Smith’s first meeting with her future husband Jack was the day she arrived in the village on 4 November 1930 at the age of 11 and he was one of a number of lads engaged in building just such a bonfire.
It was Arthur Plumb again who took the lead in organising things later and for many years the bonfire and fireworks, complete with hot food, was an annual event of some note. Here Mrs Joan Baker bangs the gong to announce that the food is ready while Susan Black attends to the sausages; Sally Plumb, one of Arthur’s two daughters, looks on at far left.
In the early 1960s there was for a time a grass tennis court on part of Lorings Meadow just in front of the Rectory kitchen garden wall.