Introduction

The question is sometimes asked "How long has there been an annual fete at Beeston Castle?" The usual and quick answer is "for many years" or "for longer than I can remember," but these are not real answers. Few can now remember the inter-war fetes and the object of these notes is to try and answer the question more precisely.

From the available records the Beeston Castle Fete as we know it today dates from the end of the Second World War, in 1945. The qualification is important as the fete has been organised, by Bunbury Church, possibly since about 1907. Prior to that date The Beeston Festival, a two-day event, was organised by The Ancient Order of Oddfellows, starting in 1844. That there was a close relationship between the Oddfellows and Bunbury Church is evident from the records. The Beeston Festival had, in turn, superseded the ancient Bunbury Wakes which, in effect, were the celebrations associated with St.Boniface, the Patronal Saint. Bunbury Wakes probably date from the Middle Ages and, as far as Bunbury was concerned, the 5th of June -St Boniface Day -was very conveniently situated in the summer, making with Christmas the two main events of the year.

In ascending order, therefore, the Beeston Castle Fete can be said to have had both its origins and church associations from the middle ages, and with Beeston Castle from 1844, or 1907, or 1945. It is up to the reader to decide.

 Beeston Castle in the early 14th century

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