The Brook Hall Harvest Horkey
One of the great pleasures of Local History is the investigation of the unimportant. Tom's interest was awakened by the following newspaper cutting about Brook Hall's 'old-time' Horkey. A Horkey is a type of harvest celebration that is unique to East Anglia. Its place had been usurped by the more sober church-sponsored harvest festivals, but there have been several attempts to revive the older and more enjoyable celebration
OLD TIMES REVIVED A HORKEY AT FOXEARTH
On Friday the 30th of September 1901, the employees of Mr T.P.Brand of Brook Hall, at the conclusion of harvest, met to have an old time horkey. The dinner took place in the wheat barn and commenced at 4 p m. The meat was supplied from the farm and the ale, which was of most excellent quality, was supplied by D.Ward and Son, of Foxearth Brewery. The number that sat down was 37. Full justice was done to the meal, which was followed by a smoking concert.
The chair was taken by Mr T. H. Brand and the vice-chair by Mr Willis. The toast of "the King" was proposed by Mr John Butcher, who also led "God Save The King".
The health of Mr and Mrs Brand was proposed by Mr Henry Ives, who has lived at Brook Hall since 1865.
Mr William Smith, junior,proposed the toast "Mr Tom and family". Mr Ellams proposed the toast of Mrs Ives, Mrs Deeks, Miss Macro, Miss Byford and Miss Nice, who were responsible for the catering departments.
In the concert,Mr John Butcher was most happy in his efforts, bringing the Fen country songs into the neighbourhood. Mr Elliston, late of the Suffolks, (not lost by General French) also obliged with many songs. In fact the Fenman and the Suffolker may have been considered to have been the mainstay of the musical line. Mr .H.Brand obliged with some songs, of which "John Peel" would be the best. At 8-30, after a most enjoyable evening, the feast was concluded.
Finally, Mr Long suggested a round of "three times three" for Mr and Mrs Brand, Mr Ives being spokesman.
The guests were Messrs Willis, William Smith, A.Thompson,G.Willis, Fish, Henry Ives, Alfred Deal, Edward Ives, John Marshall, Ambrose Ellams, A.Mansfield, A.Poole, W.Elliston, D.Harrington ,A.Levitt, Lewis Deeks, C.Hickford, A.Ives, James Felton, A.Willis, H.Chapman, E.Willis, T.Chapman, E.Long, E.Hardaway, J.Gridley, F.Marshall and T.H.Brand.
Everything passed off so well that it promises to be an annual event.
October 1st 1902.
Brook Hall Horkey.
This pleasing event took place on September 26th,in the wheat barn. A company of 39 sat down. In the evening the usual toasts were given when a smoking concert took place,songs were rendered by Messrs Butcher, Long, Felton, Smith and others. On Saturday morning, Mr Brand entertained them to breakfast.
There was also other horkeys at Bradfields, Huntsmans and Pentlow Street.
Tom did some investigating. He asked Reg Chinnery, b 1910, who told him that Miss Nice, a helper at the horkey at Brook Hall in 1901, was his mothers aunt, her home was at Twinstead and she was a domestic at Brook Hall. John Butcher was the shepherd, living in a house where the bungalow stands now at Pentlow Street, he was the father of Percy Butcher. E.Long was coachman at Brook Hall and lived at Hawks Farm. Ambrose Ellams lived at Huntsmans Cottages, then moved to a house behind the Chapel. A.Levitt was the gamekeeper and lived at Huntsmans Cottages. J.Gridley lived in the row where Ken Coleby is now. A Thompson lived at Borley at the top of Brook Hall lane next door to Miss Byford. I.Gridley lived at what is now Oakley's Cottage. Alfred Deal was blacksmith at Brook Hall, working in the smithy at the end of the pond, he was Eddy Chinnery's grandfather. John Marshall was mechanic
at Brook Hall, living in the cottages where Orry Claydon lives now. George Duce used to say that he would repair the binders if they broke down. Henry Ives lived at Brook Hall cottages,it seems he was the first tenant as they were built between 1861 and 1871. (G.H.).