Audley Customs & Celebrations


Stan Brassington


            In this short item, we hope to rekindle memories of customs, celebrations and happenings of yesteryear in Audley and we hope to persuade readers to send us further information for a future issue.    Perhaps next time we could have a ‘Betley or Talke Customs...’ 



            Whenever you mention past customs, the first piece of information is invariably Audley Wakes Week and the attendant celebrations.  In an age when few people went away for an annual holiday, the village concentrated on enjoying itself at home, with the fairground rides and sideshows providing the commercial background, especially on Wakes Saturday.


            Hospital Saturday, with its stalls and procession, was held on an August Saturday.  The money collected was donated to the local voluntary hospitals.  Sunday was the Wesleyan Charity, with Sunday School scholars on parade, collections, and special services.  On Bank Holiday Monday, the Forresters’ parade and carnival toured the village, followed on Tuesday by the Oddfellows’ celebrations.  Wednesday and Thursday were the days of the flower show and brass band competition, the latter attracting famous bands such as Foden’s and Black DykeMills’ from all over the north of England.




Good Friday saw the annual exodus from Audley to Mill Dale, a local beauty spot with its clear stream and a supply of fresh spring water, whilst the people of Bignall End went up the hill to the monument.




A reminder of old times that disappeared in 1939 was the curfew bell, tolled every night at 8 o’clock.  Another ancient tradition was the ceremony of beating the bounds, which, unlike some other events above, does not seem to have had a fixed date.  It also seems to have been a fairly arduous task, as old photographs show plentiful supply of liquid and other refreshments when a rest was taken.




A whole host of celebrations were linked with the local chapels and Sunday Schools, ranging from the Anniversaries and Charity Sundays to Sunday School treats on various fields around the parish, often ending with gifts of delicacies such as rice buns and sweets.  Audley Church Sunday School very early on had an annual outing to Chester by charabanc, with a boat trip up the river to Eaton Hall.




In a category hard to place in the context of the title is the delaying of the local train from Bignall End to Newcastle every morning during the hunting season.  This was to allow a van, containing the mount of Reginald N Wood to be attached to the train en route to Keele Hall for a day’s hunting.  Local children travelling to schools in Newcastle were delighted as it meant a late start to their school day.  the same RN Wood was the first person to own a car in Audley, whose inhabitants were taken aback one day to see the limousine travelling through the village with a donkey in the back, apparently bought for one of his daughters.


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