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Extract from 1st August 1880

Extract from: The Carrier Pigeon 1st August 1880

Haseley Flower Show

Flower Show – The third annual flower show was held in the Rectory grounds at Great Haseley, on Wednesday last.  Although the morning opened with a steady downpour of rain, the competition amongst the cottagers seemed but very slightly diminished, and by 10 o’clock (with addition of specimens kindly lent for the occasion by Mr Muirhead and Mr Biscoe), the tent presented a very fair appearance.  The task of judging was, as usual, most ably performed by Mr Walker, of Thame, and Mr Ponsford, of Waterstock, and the size, and quality of the cabbages and potatoes was specially mention as deserving great praise.  The condition of the gardens and allotments entered for competition was also spoken of as exceptionally good.  The band of the Oxfordshire Militia played a selection during the afternoon, and, but for the unfavourable weather, the well-know efficiency of the performers would doubtless have attracted a very large attendance of visitors.  As it was several families of the neighbouring gentry were present, with a contingent from Oxford.  At 6 pm the prizes were given away by Mrs Muirhead, of Haseley Court, who addressed a few encouraging words to the recipients as they advance to the table: and the Rector have made a few remarks, the day – which might be been, but for the weather, a most enjoyable one – was brought to a conclusion.

“Our last thought on going to bed “Will it be fine?”, our first on waking “Is it fine?  An emphatic ‘No’ to the last.  One of those soaking pelting downpours of which the inhabitants of South Oxfordshire have seen not a few this last month.  “Oh it’s sure to clear up soon”, “Queenie’s weather – Review – etc etc.  But no, the exhibitors troop in under gacups and shawls, their precious burdens carefully guarded from the elements.  Drip, drip, drip will it never stop!”Please Sir, I shan’t be able to shew them flowers as I was entered for ‘cos of the rain”, and this not from one mouth but from so many that the indefatigable Secretary’s heart which was already at freezing point quickly went below zero.  “Now must get something or we shall have no show”.  “I’ll try and get ½ dozen roses”, says one ulstered  and hooded form as she made a bolt through the water spout.  “I’ll get some currents” says ulstered form No. 1 whilst another makes for the strawberry beds.  “Cheer up all” it going to be fine, its quite bright over in the Windsor direction – the clouds are all coming from there and who ever heard of a wet review”.  No good – five minutes interval, but no sooner have people’s paces got a little shorter than drip, drip, down it comes again!  Imagine then the feelings of all concerned when as the church clock struck 12 the sun shone in all its midsummer heat the brightness.  “Just the right time”.  “Now we are all right, and here come more exhibitors, dear good people who have sent carts full of lovely flowers which would do credit to any show, and here are our 3 ulstered forms who disappeared in search of roses and fruit, the roses – not very brilliant specimens, appear likewise the currants, but where are the strawberries?  U.f. No. 2!  We believe she was subsequently “highly commended” for greediness.  There was no competition in this class or she would undoubtedly have received the 1st prize.

For 2 hours sun and blue sky reigned supreme and we fondly hoped the clouds and rain would be effectually ‘absquattulated”.  Under this pleasing delusion we eat our luncheon and then proceeded to array ourselves for the afternoon’s performance.  Vain dreamers!  The Show was to open at 2 pm and as the strains of the military band came up the village (a drawing here of rain).  Patiently we sat in the drawing room, while the bandsmen took refuge under the laurels and “Wellingtonia giganticas”, and the few rash folk who had paid their 6d as the first drops fell, had rather more of the flowers and less of the band than they bargained for.  Oh we sat thinking of the jolly day last year when – but as someone once said “comparisons are odious” and after all have not the judges said that they have never in any Show (and they are some of the Commanders in Chief in the army of Florists) seen such splendid cabbages and that the potatoes are wonderful. 

And now the band has been despatched into the text and is playing ‘Pinafore’ who could feel in trhe dumps now?  The Secretary need no longer go about murmuring in tones of utter despair “£6 out of pocket” for sure enough a carriage drives up, nay two, in fact it is rumoured that during the course of the afternoon no less than 3 turned in at the gates.  Of course this is rather different from the long string of vehicles of all sorts and sizes which generally, on this occasion, stretches the length of the village but still who ever expected anyone!

So the afternoon jogged on, several big thunderstorms burst over us, but that was a mere trifle and no one was struck.  The band played polka’s to which an accompaniment was danced indoors by the Rosarian and the “Highly commended for greediness” who united for the occasion.  What an amalgamation of the lovely and the loathsome!

At 3.30, the rain really stopped, the villagers crowded in and everyone looked happy, except perhaps the poor Secretary who would keep on his ‘machintosh’ and who looked as if the £6 was very much on his mind.  The arrival of Mrs Muirhead was the signal for the giving away of the prizes which that lady did in a most kind and graceful way, and at about 7pm this, after all, enjoyable afternoon was brought to a close.