Fête Day

There has been an annual fête in the village for more years than anyone can remember although the exact origins remain unclear. It is rumoured to have started shortly after the end of the Second World War, held annually in the grounds of Coglan House.

Club Days

Even earlier to the flower show is mention of other Club Days and Bazaars held in and around the village, the earliest of which is the mention of a Club Day at May Hill [1] in 1875. On July 2nd. 1884 a holiday was granted to the children of Longhope C. of E. School on account of it being the village Club Day. Successive holidays were also granted around the same time in future years until on July 18th. 1895 a "Forester's fete [was] to be held in the village". Exactly what the Forester's Fete was at this time is unclear.

Annual Flower Show

There is evidence that suggests an annual rose show was held in the grounds of Coglan (sometimes written Coghlan) House from as early as 1900 [1]. An unknown newspaper article from the early 1900s record one such flower show that was held at the Latchen Room [2]. Owing to the fact that the Latchen Rooms were built in 1906, it could not have happened before then.

"For several years past the flower and vegetable shows held in Longhope have been popular, but none have been more successful than that promoted by Mr. W. H. Powell, which was held in the Latchen Room on Thursday afternoon. A large number of people attended, the money taken at the door amounting to £5 19s. 6d. ... The side shows included a museum by Mr. W. H. Powell, which contained a most interesting collection of fossils, insects, African curios, 28 different kinds of wood grown in Longhope, and an inlaid table and tray, the work of Mr. F. C. Field. Mr. F. C. Field had fitted up a rustic garden with an ingeniously arranged miniture waterfall, around which was artistically placed flower stands filled with pot flowers and ferns, shrubs, etc. The music was provided by the Mitcheldean Prize Brass Band, under the conductorship of Mr. G. Powell." [2]

Fête Day

It is highly likely that the first ever incarnation of the Longhope fête took the form of the Peace Celebrations in 1919 to mark the end of the First World War. An unknown newspaper article, possibly from the Gloucester Journal describes the event.

"The arrangements for Longhope were of an extensive character. The programme included a carnival procession, headed by the beautiful banner of 'Court Hope,' A.O.F. [Ancient Order of Foresters], and the local fife and drum band; a tea at Latchen-room free to every parishioner, a good programme of sports, the whole to finish at night with a grand display of fireworks and a bonfire upon May Hill. Unfortunately the grey, cloudy morning brought forth, just before the time fixed for the procession to start from the top of Zion Hill, a steady downpour of rain, but cleared sufficiently for the procession to start and parade the village without much inconvenience. The various characters represented in the carnival were both historical and grotesque, plenty of fun being provided en route. The procession over and the assembly at Latchen-room of a large number of parishioners for tea, rain again came on and although it much damped the spirits of all concerned owing to the need for the rain in the neighbourhood, it came as a palliative to the disappointment felt by everyone. The weather became so bad that the committee decided to postpone the sports until Saturday, and after all had partaken of tea, which was very well provided and ably presided over by a committee of ladies the prizes won by various competitors in the carnival were given out by Mr. W. H. Powell, chairman of the Committee. The judges of the procession were: Mrs. Pringle, Mrs. Hume Spry and Mr. William Constance, whose awards gave every satisfaction. At the time appointed for the fireworks and lighting the bonfire upon May Hill the rain came down in a deluge, but notwithstanding this hundreds of people faced the elements, and at 10 p.m. Mr. Grafton, junr., commenced the finest display of fireworks ever seen at Longhope, which were the gift of Mr. Grafton, senr., of Clifford Manor. At eleven o'clock Mr. John Constance lighted the bonfire, which was a huge heap of brushwood collected from a wood recently cleared on the Newent side of the hill. The committee was careful that nothing of any use should be used. The fire burned brilliantly and many who were soaked to the skin stood round to dry themselves."

Manor House
The Manor House was the starting point for the fête in 2009.
Clearly they had to cope with the rain back then, unlike today. This confirms that the 2008 fête was the 83rd, excepting the six years throughout the duration of the Second World War when there was none. There is mention of a 1920 fête but the first written evidence of an annual fête comes from an unknown newspaper article written in 1921 describing a fete and sale of work held at the Manor House:

"By the kind permission of Captain and Mrs. Pringle, the picturesque grounds of the Manor House were the venue of the annual fete and sale of work. There was a large attendance, and excellent business was done at the various stalls. The proceedings were opened by Miss M. Hill, late of Coglan House, Longhope. The side attractions included nine-pins, barrow and stake, and bowls (prize a live pig), and there was keen competition in each case. Other at-the prizes, a live pip in each case [sic]. Other attractions were hoop-la, cocoa-nut shies, and guessing competitions of weight of cake and pig, all of which were well patronised. At dusk the whole grounds quickly changed to a fairy-land, about 1,000 fairy lamps and Chinese lanterns having been artistically placed on the sides of the walks and the banks of the lakes. This work had been carried out under the personal supervision of the Rev. M. Maltby, and great skill had been shown in the placing of the lamps. The Wye Valley String Band provided the music, and dancing was freely indulged in on a splendid turf. The proceeds will be devoted to Home and Foreign Missions and various charities. The Rev. M. Maltby and his willing working Committee are to be congratulated upon the able manner in which the proceedings were carried out." [2]

In 1947, Rev. Reginald Taylor, the vicar of Longhope from 1946 to 1951, writes about the fête being held in Blacksmith's Meadow, with an entrance fee of 1s. [3] and such activities such as guess the cow's weight and a coconut shy. Blacksmith's meadow is the same field that the Recreation Grounds now occupy.

Traditionally, the fête was believed to have always been on the first Saturday of July but this may be no more than a couple of decades old. Indeed, Rev. Taylor writes of the 1947 fête taking place on 26th of July and even later fêtes occuring in the start of August [3].


  1. Private documents [02 (1874-1911)].
  2. Private documents [03]
  3. Private documents [01-A].
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