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52 Ancestors: Week 47 – Thankful

I am taking part in the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge for 2021. The challenge is organised by Amy Johnson Crow who provides a weekly writing prompt. I should have completed all 52 prompts by now, but I will do so as soon as possible.

When I saw this prompt I immediately thought of harvest festivals. I clearly remember as a child both school and church celebrations where I made up small hampers of food which were given to those in need. I now realise that in the affluent village in which I grew up, where as the vicar’s kids we were definitely the least well off, I have absolutely no idea where that food ended up.

I remember the flower arranging ladies going to town for harvest festival services, filling the church with displays of fruit and vegetables. It was a farming community and we often celebrated later than other churches, as the farmers would not celebrate until the harvest was all gathered in. You can see some pictures of the church here: https://www.stcatherinebirtles.org.uk/gallery.htm

This is just how I remember it, fruit and vegetables everywhere. Photograph reproduced with kind permission of Reverend Jon Hale, the Rector of the Benefice of Alderley & Birtles.


Images: Photograph. Harvest festival. (c. 2000-2020) St. Catherines, Birtles, Over Alderley, Cheshire. Photographer unknown. https://www.stcatherinebirtles.org.uk/gallery.htm : accessed 12 January 2022.

Harvest festivals have been celebrated for centuries and so it was not surprising to find that the Stewardson family living in Tansley in 1904 would have witnessed a harvest festival.

Derbyshire Advertiser and Journal Friday 30 September 1904 page 6f https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/bl/0001084/19040930/149/0006 Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Robert Stewardson and Maria Batterley had married in Tansley Parish Church in 1896 and their eldest daughter was baptised at the Wesleyan Methodist Chapel the following year. I think it is a safe assumption that they would have attended at least one of the numerous harvest festivals in the district and witnessed the great abundance of fruit and flowers.

It is lovely to know that they experienced an Indian Summer that September.

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