The Church Street Feast, WorcestershireChurch Street in Kidderminster is fortunate in that not one but two historic bequests provide for if not a feast - though some call it the Kidderminster Feast of Peace and Neighbourhood - then at least a nice little celebration peculiar to the place.
The first was a legacy of some 40 shillings left by a lady unknown to supply residents of the street with a farthing loaf each, paid for out of the interest on the capital, the loaves to be eaten in a spirit of peace and goodwill.
The second was made centuries later, in 1778, when an unmarried gentleman named Brecknell left £150 to provide residents of the same street with rather jollier fare - a cake, tobacco and a pipe to smoke it, and a drink of ale, all to be enjoyed on midsummer‚s day.
Those born in the street can claim the provisions of the second bequest even if they move away (legend insists that one who made it to America wrote to claim their birthright!), those who move into the area are entitled while they reside there only.
Church Street is no longer a residential district, but local businesses have picked up on the tradition and to their credit taken it further, with a special supper held at St Mary's Chantry, naturally with the mayor present.
In a continuation of the celebration proper clay pipes with long stems have been on the table for the supper, though what happens now that smoking indoors at such events is illegal remains to be seen - perhaps massed clay pipe smokers huddling round the entrance.
More British Folk Customs?
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