Winter in Leigh 1879: Christmastide


It has been a rather wet and miserable winter so far, although quite mild for the time of year.  However, what was winter like in Leigh 130 years ago – and what was happening in Leigh.  An item in the Kent & Sussex Courier for Friday 3 January 1879 covering 23 December to 1 January might give you some idea:

Kent & Sussex Courier:  Friday 3 January 1879

The ordinary dulness (sic) of village life in winter has been very pleasingly varied with us this Christmastide.  On the 23rd ult., when the frost was reigning triumphantly, a large skating party assembled on the beautiful lake at Hall-place, and the Leigh band was in attendance, to whose music quadrilles and other dances were gracefully performed by the merry skaters   On Friday 27th a most interesting and instructive lecture was given in the National Schoolroom by Dr. Cranage on “The Tabernacle”.  The lecture was illustrated by a splendid large model of the building and its court, measuring eight feet by five, everything being shown with great accuracy, the pillars, curtains, altar, holy ark, &c.  Additional interest was also given to the lecture by the presence of two attendants, one dressed in the pure white priest’s clothing, and the other in the gorgeous robes of the High Priest of Israel, with mitre, breastplate, ephod, and all complete.  Next day, Saturday, the children of the Sunday School attended a special service in the church at three p.m., when the Vicar of Shipbourne delivered a highly interesting and appropriate address, after which they returned to the schoolroom, and sat down to tea.  The evening was then spent in enjoying the exhibition of a magic lantern, shown by Mr Bridger, of Tonbridge, and in receiving the welcome and valuable gifts provided by the kindness of the vicar and the teachers.  On Tuesday, being New Year’s Day, the school room was gaily and tastefully decorated by the teachers on the occasion of the annual Christmas tea and treat given by Samuel Morley, Esq., M.P., to his workpeople.  The weather was most inclement, but yet over 200 of the men with their wives and families managed to be present.  At six o’clock they sat down to a plentiful meat tea, and after that was over Mr Morley called upon the vicar, The Rev. H.R. Collum, to offer prayer and address the gathering.  Mr Morley himself then spoke giving some of that excellent, pithy, practical advice for which he is so famous.  Mr Henry Morley followed, making the mottoes of “Temperance, Prosperity, and Happiness” which appeared in the decorations of the room, the text of his valuable remarks.  Mr Charles Morley succeeded his brother, dwelling mostly upon the progress of music in the village of late years.  Between the addresses and forming a pleasant variation, the Leigh Choral Society, who were especially invited to be present, sang with great accuracy and spirit several glees, part songs, and choruses.  Mr Morley and his sons then distributed the gifts provided, every man and boy in his employ receiving a useful and valuable present, and each member of the Choral Society receiving a book from Miss Morley.  The singing of the National Anthem and the Benediction by the vicar brought to a close an evening which was felt by all concerned to be a very great and unalloyed pleasure.


Parish Magazine Article: Mar 2014: by Joyce Field