Occold v Redlingfield Show 1889

From the Ipswich Jounal, June 21st 1889

Back in the summer of 1889 the villagers of Occold and Redlingfield were at loggerheads over the hosting of that year’s district flower show – with public meetings and much mudslinging in the local press.

According to a lengthy article in the Ipswich Journal of Friday June 21st 1889 the society which ran the district flower show had, until then, been a happy band. It “was inaugurated some four years ago by about 60 working men of Occold meeting at the Bottles Inn, who there and then agreed to subscribe one shilling each for the purpose of holding an annual show of their allotment and garden produce. The inhabitants of Rishangles and Redlingfield were smitten with the idea, and by invitation affiliated themselves with Occold. A year or so Iater Bedingfield also came in, and the four parishes have jogged along harmoniously together ever since, the result being four highly-successful exhibitions, three of which have been held at Occold and one at Bedingfield.”

However, in 1889 the villagers of Bedingfield, which was due to hold the event declined and Occold “never dreaming that little Redlingfield had ambitions” stepped forward to host. Redlingfield had other ideas but “Occold in effect replied: ‘You! I wonder what next.’ The Occoldians blood was now fairly up and they loudly protested against the show being held at what they rather disrespectfully termed an out-of-the-way, insignificant place.”

A vote at the committee meeting went to Occold but one “gentleman had voted who was not then entitled”. The meeting adjourned with the vote a stalemate. “At the adjourned meeting, Redlingfield, which has evidently ‘an old parliamentary band’ in its midst, managed, by having issued a “five-lined whip” in Bedingfield and Rishangles, to muster a force strong enough to carry the day.”

The good villagers of Occold were so upset that at a public meeting “was held at Occold Board Schoolroom to protest against the show being held at Redlingfield ... There was a rather large attendance, which included several women, and the question was freely discussed. Some sarcastically asked, ‘Where is Redlingfield?’ ... The meeting was absolutely unanimous in protesting against Redlingfield ever even thinking of having the show there, holding strongly that it must result in financial ruin to the Society.”

In the end a resolution was passed stating they unanimously protested against the decision “‘to hold the forthcoming show at Redlingfield, and we also declare it to be our intention not to exhibit in any shape or form at a show held at Redlingfield.’ ”

But it seems there protest were in vain as the Ipswich Journal of Friday August 2nd 1889 reports on the “Fruit, Flower, and Vegetable Show at Redlingfield”.

“The exhibition was held there on Tuesday, and, although those who argue that Redlingfield is too “one•cornered” for a show of the kind, have truth on side, it cannot be denied that once there, the spot upon which the show was held (by the kind permission of Mr. David Reeve, of Redlingfield Hall) proved a most suitable one for the purpose in every respect, being a picturesque, secluded and ‘hIstorical meadow,’ and the most strenuous opponent of the show being held at Redlingfield will not deny that the parishioners made splendid efforts to justify their claims to have the honour ... what’s more, favoured by perfect weather, they thoroughly succeeded, ‘Don’t forget Redlingfield!’ has met the eye at every turn during the last few days and certainly those who visited the show there on Tuesday are not very, likely to forget the place for some time to come.

“Of triumphal arches, bunting and mottoes there was an abundance ... The mottoes, which had evidently been ‘thought out,’ included the following: – ‘Welcome for Occold,’ ‘A Fair Field and no Favour,’ ‘Unity, Peace, and Concord,’ ‘Success to our Show,’ &c ... As regards, the show itself, it was an all-round excellent one, and, in respect to quantity and quality, quite equal to former occasions.”

“Stocks's fair was close at hand; the Eye Volunteer band performed a choice selection of music; there were various other amusements, and the affair was a very enjoyable and successful one.

“Should anybody ask, ‘Where is Redlingfield?’ Trifel Muttock will tell them it is where it was at least 800 years ago (when a Benedictine nunnery was founded there), and where it will remain for another 800 years ... Quite up to six o’clock the cry was, ‘StilI they come,’ and if one turned his eyes towards Stocks’s roundabout he involuntarily shouted, ‘And there they go.’”

Despite the call for a boycott the paper’s long list of results – covering everything from the donkey race to best gardens and allotments – show that many from Occold took part.

Many thanks to Linda Hudson for the original Ipswich Journal stories.

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