The August 1901 edition of the Monthly Parish Magazine of Badsey with Aldington and Wickhamford announced a forthcoming Bazaar & Garden Fete, to be held on Wednesday, August 21st in the grounds of Wickhamford Manor. This was arranged to raise money for a long overdue restoration of Wickhamford Church. Details of the work that was carried out on the Church in this period is summarised in the article Wickhamford Church repairs, 1893-1901. The event, which was held in perfect weather, turned out to be a resounding success and raised the equivalent of over £15,000 in today’s money.
Wickhamford Manor, where the bazaar was held, was lent by Mr and Mrs Idiens, who had moved in as tenants just over a year earlier. The event was opened, with a speech, by Lady Elcho, Countess of Wemyss and March, of Stanway, Winchcombe. One unexpected guest was Arthur Balfour, M.P., the Leader of the House of Commons, who became Prime Minister the following year. He was staying with Lady Elcho and brought his car to the Bazaar. People paid for rides in his car to help raise money. The Vicar, the Reverend William Price, wrote in the Parish Magazine that his presence would cause the name of Wickhamford to be made known throughout the whole English-speaking world.
There was boating on the lake, donkey & pony rides, a Ping Pong Competition (handsome prizes given by Mr Adie, of Birmingham) and clock golf. The expenses for the event show that there was also a Band and Piano present. An advertisement for the bazaar in the Evesham Standard, referred to The Evesham Volunteer Band (by kind permission of Capt. St. John Wilding). Also mentioned was a golf-croquet tournament (entrance 1/-) and dancing on the Manor lawn. Admission to the bazaar was to be 1/-, or 6d after 5.30 p.m. (children, half price). Transport from Evesham Market Square to Wickhamford, by brakes, would run from 2.00 p.m. with a fare of 6d each way.
There was a Dramatic Entertainment in the Barn with a programme arranged by Lady Sara Blomfield. She was the widow of architect Sir Arthur Blomfield, who had drawn up plans for the restoration of Wickhamford Church. He had died in October 1899. Mr Macarthur gave valuable help with the arrangements for the stage and grouping of tableaux. The parts in the various scenes were taken by the children of Lady Elcho and Lady Bromfield. Entrance tickets for this entertainment were set at 2/-, 1/-, or 6d. Another prominent guest was Madame de Navarro, an American lady also known as Mary Anderson, who lived in Broadway.
A number of stalls were arranged picturesquely on one side of the lawn and they contained an abundance of beautiful and useful articles. Mrs Idiens and Mrs & Miss Pethard presided over the Wickhamford stall. The Aldington stall was filled with articles collected by Mrs & Miss Savory and they had received valuable assistance in making up garments etc by the people of Aldington. The Badsey stall was in the hands of Mrs Price. Mrs Sladden was responsible for a toy and sweet stall and she also sold flowers and button-holes. Boards and trestles were lent by the Badsey Flower Show Committee.
Miss H. Ashwin had a fish pond, which attracted many competitors. There was a refreshment tent which catered most satisfactorily for the visitors. A large supply of provisions had been freely given. Mr H. Keen and Mr J. Mason collected entrance money at the gate. Mr G. Pethard provided a quantity of timber for erecting the stalls. Mr & Mrs B. Carter lent crockery, boards and trestles etc and Mr Newth of Gloucester supplied flags and decorations. At dusk the grounds were illuminated and there was a firework display under the management of Mr. C.A. Binyon.
The Parish Magazine of October 1901 gave details of the Statement of Accounts for the Bazaar. The receipts from the entrance fees and sales from the stalls and entertainments was £92 19s 4d. A number of cheques were received, including one for £20 from the family of the late J.P. Lord, so the total receipts were £121 6s 11d. There were various expenses to pay, including for advertisements, posters, fireworks, the Band, hire of chairs and the presence of a policeman (5/-). These came to £10 5s 0d., so the balance for the Restoration Fund was £121 6s 11d. A little more was added, as articles left over from the stalls were offered for sale at the Old School in Badsey on 22nd October and a further £4 7s 8d raised.
In the accounts, it was recorded that Mr H. Keen, at the gate, took £8 15s 1d. As admission prices varied – adult and children and time of entrance – only a guess can be made of the attendance on the day. A reasonable assumption would between 200 and 300. (The population of Wickhamford on census night, a few months earlier was 171, including a few ‘visitors’.) The bazaar was held on a Wednesday afternoon, which was early-closing day for Evesham shops.
The Vicar’s prediction that the presence of Arthur Balfour would spread the name of Wickhamford around the world turned out to be true. As well as reports of his attendance in National newspapers – e.g. The Dundee Courier, The St James’s Gazette, The Sunderland Daily Echo and Belfast News-Letter some US papers carried the story, e.g. – The Savannah Morning News and The Honolulu Republican. Madame De Navarro, described the events of the day in an Ohio newspaper, The Elyria Republican of 19th September.
Reverend Price made the comment that “August 21st will be handed down to posterity as a red letter day in the annals of the parish”.
Additional information on the Hosts and Guests
- John Idiens (1852-1939) became tenant of Wickhamford Manor in 1900. He and his wife, Alice, lived there until 1906; after a number of moves, they eventually emigrated to Canada, in 1913.
- Reverend William Henry Price (1859-1903) had been vicar in Wickhamford and Badsey since only 1897. He died at the early age of 43.
- Arthur Balfour (1848-1930) became Prime Minister on 12th July 1902 and remained in that position until 4th December 1905. He was later elevated to the peerage as 1st Earl of Balfour.
- Mary Constance Charteris, Countess of Wemyss and March (1862-1937) was styled Lady Elcho from 1883 to 1914. She was a society hostess and an original member of The Souls, an exclusive social and intellectual club. Balfour was also a leading member.
- Lady Sara Louisa Blomfield (1859-1939) was married to a noted Victorian architect, Sir Arthur Blomfield (1829-1899). She was an early member of the Baha’i Faith. Her husband, a son of a Bishop of London, had designed the Royal College of Music, in London, rebuilt the nave of what is now Southwark Cathedral and oversaw the reconstruction of Salisbury Cathedral spire. He had produced a report on the Church of St John the Baptist, to say what work need to be done. After his death in 1899, his son supervised the repairs. At the 1901 census Lady Blomfield lived in the High Street, Broadway, with her three daughters.
- Madame de Navarro (1859-1940) was American theatre actress, born Mary Anderson. She married Antonio Fernando de Navarro, an American sportsman of Basque extraction. He was Papal Privy Chamberlain of the Sword and Cape. They settled in Court Farm, Broadway.
Many column inches were devoted to the Wickhamford bazaar and garden fete in the 24th August 1901 edition of The Evesham Standard & West Midlands Observer, which can be viewed in the British Newspaper Archive.
Tom Locke – April 2021