BOOK DEVON HOTELS

Join in

Send page to a friend

2498 views since 11th March 2011

Related links:

Events | Lore & Legend | Rather Interesting | Cultural Britain

Featured Destination

October 2017: Starry Starry Night, Look You Ė Dark Skies Tourism

What do the Brecon Beacons, NambiRand Reserve in Namibia, Mont Megantic in Quebec, and Aoraki Mackenzie in New Zealand have in common? At first glance ...More
More Uk destinations

Pretty Maidís Charity, Devon

Many village and town fairs and fetes have their Queen or Princess, but St Peterís Fair in the North Devon town of Holsworthy has a rather different slant on the idea. The fair is generally heralded on the first Tuesday in July by the Court Leet gathering and the lucky Portreeve ensuring the ale in the town is of good quality. The next day, however, marks the true start of the event. At precisely 12 noon as the clock begins to strike a closely guarded secret is revealed at the belfry doorway of the Church of St Peter and St Paul: the identity of the Pretty Maid for that year.
The custom was established in 1841 with a carefully worded bequest from the Reverend Thomas Meyrick, brother of the then rector of Holsworthy. In his will he stipulated that at that time a single woman of the parish, under 30 years of age, should be selected as being the most deserving, the most handsome, and the most noted for her quietness and attendance at church. He left money to be invested in government stock paying steady interest, which originally was worth £2 10s to the recipient, a tidy sum in the mid-19th century. These days the Ďprizeí is worth £5 to the chosen girl, who also has the honour of opening the fair.
The Rev. Meyrick had a worthy idea in mind when he made his will, stating that it was intended to demonstrate to the government that people react better to reward and pleasure than punishment. And he wasnít ageist either: originally a spinster aged 60 or over received a lesser sum, though that custom has apparently been dropped.

More British Folk Customs?

If you like this, Share it

Brit Quote:
I am not conceited. It is just that I have a fondness for the good things in life and I happen to be one of them - Kenneth Williams
More Quotes

On this day:
Battle of Ashingdon - 1016, Chewing Gum first goes on sale - 1911, BBC Formed - 1922
More dates from British history

click here to view all the British counties

County Pages