Oxhill News

www.oxhill.com / www.oxhill.org.uk

South Warwickshire, England.

The Oxhill News

January 2012

This months News



Christmas at a Norfolk Parsonage, 1791

Parson James Woodforde, who was Rector of Weston Longueville, Norfolk from1774 until his death in 1803, had started to keep a diary while he had been an undergraduate at Oxford in 1758, and maintained it for the rest of his life.  I found in it this account of Christmas Day at his parsonage in 1791, which that year fell upon a Sunday.

“This being Christmas I walked to Church this Morning and read Prayers and administered the Holy Sacrament to 22 Communicants.  Gave for an Offering at the Altar £0. 2s  6d.  None from Weston House (the big house of the village) this Morn’ the Weather being very cold, wet and windy and extreme bad Walking, being all Ice under (foot).  My Foot extremely painful, hard Matter to get to and from Church, but thank God I went thro’ it all better than I expected.  The following Old Men dined at my House being Christmas Day, and each had a Shilling apiece to carry home to their Wives,

£0. 6s 0d.  James Smith, Thomas Carey, Thomas Carr, Christopher Dunnell, Nathaniel Heavers and John Peachman. Dinner to Day Surloin of Beef rosted, plumb Puddings and mince Pies.  My large Wax Candle lighted up as usual for one House (being Christmas Day) in the Evening.  It froze again sharp this Evening.  Thank God my foot was much better at Night.  I laid my Foot up in a Chair almost all the Aft.”

I gather from this account that Parson Woodforde, then aged 50, most probably suffered from gout. The menu outlined was his customary Christmas dinner.  He always invited poor old men to share it with him, and sometimes a widow.  The men’s wives however were never included, but remembered by a gift of money to be sent home with their husbands – no equal opportunities then! A wax candle would have been an expensive item – tallow candles would have been for daily use.   Parson Woodforde’s always mentions the ceremonial lighting of “my large Wax Candle” for one hour each Christmas Day, and it may be that he kept the same one for another hour’s burning the next year.

At Oxhill we would have had no resident Rector in 1791 – for most of the eighteenth century our Rectors installed a curate here instead.  John Mills who had been Rector both of Oxhill and of Barford and never lived here, had died in March, 1791, so by Christmastime there was, or soon would be, a new Rector.  Austen Bushby was the man appointed, and while he does seem to have officiated at some ceremonies in the church, in the early years of his tenure at least he also had a curate.  In 1791 this was a young man called Robert Warde, who was sadly to die a few years later, in 1796, aged 29, and lies buried near the altar in the church.  Robert would, I imagine, have lived at Oxhill Rectory, but he left us no diary to tell whether or not the poor old men of the village dined at his table on Christmas Day.  Did he serve them with sirloin and plum pudding, I wonder, and light a Wax Candle to burn clear in the evening dusk?  We shall never know.

Ann Hale

This site is maintained by villagers of Oxhill for the benefit of the community and those interested in the history, news and activities that make the village such a pleasant place to live.

Send mail to the editor of the Oxhill News at news-editor @ oxhill.org.uk.

©2012 Oxhill Village (Terms and Conditions of use)

Last modified: January 09, 2012