SAINT RICHARDS FESTIVAL - BLESSING THE UPWICH BRINE PIT
Organised by PROBUS 87, the re-enactment of St Richard blessing the Upwich pit is well received by all members of the public.
'My Lord, you have saved the town. This day will never be forgotten in Droitwich', so exclaimed Sir Hugh Fromere, Lord of Crowle!'
It was the year 1248 when the Bishop of Chichester - he was later to become St. Richard - was greeted with disastrous news when he arrived at the request of the townspeople of Droitwich. The Great Pit had failed! The brine springs had ceased to flow! The salt-making industry would come to an end! The town would be ruined!
THE FOLLOWING STATEMENT WAS GIVEN FOR THE FIRST RE-ENACTMENT IN 2014
See photographs at end of this page…
It was members of a local Probus Club, Probus 87, who first had the idea of resurrecting such an important event in the history of the town; an idea that has been embraced with great enthusiasm within by all the participants. Although blessing and decoration of the Upwich Pit in Vines Park is not new - it was last performed in 1937 - we thought it highly appropriate that this years St. Richard's Day Festivities should include a re-enactment on the Saturday, May 3rd.
Consequently, a procession proceeded from St. Andrew's Church at 11.15h. to a fanfare of trumpets, and processed down to the Pit in Vines Park, dressed by an enthusiastic team of 'flower ladies', and there congregated for the ceremony. Led by trumpeter and herald, David Wornham, altar servers from the Sacred Heart Church, members of Probus 87 dressed as Augustinian Friars, members of St. Andrew's Church Choir (singing beautifully all the way), our Mayor, Mr. Tom Noyes, then the main celebrant, the Rev. Peter Kerr as the Bishop of Chichester, and most importantly the audience, 'the pilgrims', it provided a splendid spectacle.
Indeed, at the appropriate moment after a hymn and a blessing, white balloons and four sprays of water were released, followed by a specially-composed fanfare from the heralds horn, then a peal of bells.
The first year 2014, the procession was repeated at 13.30h. in the afternoon. Since then we have only paraded in the morning.
Saint Richard’s Festival - Saturday May 2nd
Photographs by Rhys Jones of DAN
Re-enactment of St Richard Blessing the Upwich Brine Pit.
Eric Davis arriving with the Flower Cross
Eric dressed as a Friar at the Brine Pit
David Warnham leading the Friars
The Upwich Brine pit
The procession emerging from St Andrew’s Church
Down the High Street
And along the tow path
The Bishop of Chichester et al. assembles at the pit
The banner with Joan and Brian Boon looking on.
The crowds gather to watch the ceremony.
Look for John cruise and John Hunter
Gazebo advertising PROBUS’87
THE AIR CADET BAND WHO LED THE PARADE AND EFFICIENTLY FINISHED THE RE-ENACTMENT WITH A DRUM ROLL, CYMBAL CRASH AND AN ERUPTION OF BRINE IN THE PIT?
PICTURES OF THE FIRST RE-ENACTMENT 2014
THE THIRD RE-ENACTMENT 2016
Saint Richard’s Festival
Saturday APRIL 30th
PARADE ROUTE: From St Andrew’s Church to The Upwich Brine Pit in Vines Park
You are listening to Keith Garvey’s
Commentary, Blasted over Vines Park before the arrival of St Richard
MEANWHILE: The rest of PROBUS 87 members where manning a stall, entertaining visitors and promoting the club..
Popular with visitors were the ‘be a pirate’ photograph shoot (which kept blowing away) and a ‘scale-electric’ type loop the loop car racing track which required the dexterity of a 12 year old to control.
It was a beautiful day: no sun, no wind! The High Street was supposed to be a no-go area due to road improvements. But no! It was opened without advanced notification, to traffic just for this weekend! So, we decided to change the route plan for the parade to go down the High Street. The new route was very enjoyable, thanks to the marshals at the front of the parade deciding to take an exciting route in and out of St. Andrew’s shopping Centre. The Droitwich Air Cadet band was brilliant; as was our Herald playing introductory Fanfares.
The ‘blessing’ service went very well. St Richard was magnificent and the hymn singing of the audience was praised by the chief Friar. Please note that this was the first time that the chief Friar thought that the audience (his ‘pilgrims’) were taking a serious intrest in the service.
Also impressive was the flower cross held by the assistant to the thurifer. Both assistant and Thurifer were impressive.
I am told that the final crescendo of effects (spurting fountain and music etc) that came at the end of the blessing service when the brine started to flow, impressed the audience despite a number of mishaps. The etc’s were OK but we need a more impressive fountain next time!
Taking part in the parade this year was our town mayor, who disappointingly did not wear his gown and hat, but did give a speech - partly in French - welcoming a party of Visitors from our French Twinning town of Voiron who took part in the parade. Also present was the Chairman and Consort of Wychavon District Council. We also welcomed past mayors who joined in.
Our thanks go to the people of St Andrew’s Church for allowing us to change costumes and providing the refreshments well received after the event.
Above: Published in the Advertiser
Above: Published in the Standard
Above: Published in the Standard after the event..