All Saints’ Church has been at the centre of life in Pocklington for almost two thousand years, and for centuries the Feast of All Saints, also known as Allhallowtide was the town’s big event.
A celebration of All Saints feast days was revived a few years ago and the 2015 event produced a notable and varied weekend of splendid festivity.
The programme opened with a bang last Friday evening when a packed church was royaly entertained by Gilbert and Sullivan’s comic operetta, The Sorceror.
Pocklington boasts several notable choirs and a long tradition of choral excellence. And the Celebration Singers, especially brought together for the occasion by Sue Currier, both conductor of The Sorceror and organiser of the weekend, produced singing of the highest quality, soloists and chorus, with the youthful talent of Emma Burke leading the way. If you were not there first time around, do not miss the repeat performance in Nunburnholme church this Saturday (7 November) at 7.30pm.
All change on Saturday morning as All Saints turned itself into a cafe and craft fair, with an interesting and diverse range of art and handicrafts on display, including spinning wheel instruction from Pocklington Post columnist, Sue Woodcock, plus trips up the tower for a vista view.
A childrens’ party followed in the afternoon, then another change of costume for All Saints as folk music came to church on Saturday evening. Millington folk band, Fogglesyke, delivered its brand of traditional, sea-shanty and Irish music, with wide ranging instrumentals and recitations thrown in for good measure.
All Saints returned to more conventional mode on Sunday, with a morning family service, followed by a bring and share lunch then an end of festival choral evensong to round things off in fittingly musical style.
Few churches can trace their origins to a specific year, but the inscription on the Sotheby Cross of ‘Paulinus preached here 627AD’ pin points Pocklington’s Christian foundation, in addition an All Saints or All Hallows dedication invariably indicates a Saxon foundation - All Saints day itself being created circa 610AD.
From that time onwards Pocklington would have celebrated its corporate saints’ day, and the event even received royal approved in 1272 when King Henry III gave his son and daughter-in-law, Edmund Plantagenet and Aveline de Fortibus, the joint lords of the manor, a royal charter for an eight day fair on ‘the eve, day and morrow of All Saints and for five days following’.
The medieval All Saints fairs were both commercial and festive, with people coming from miles around to buy the main fair goods of cattle, cheese, cloth and leather ware (Pocklington was once a major centre of shoemaking), and be enthralled by side shows, bear baiting, troubadors and acrobats, before ending with a violent rugby-like game of mob football which went on for much of the day.
All Saints’ 2015 celebration weekend might have been very different to its medieval predecessors, but it certainly lived up to the tradition of being a leading event that provided a feast of entertainment.