Regular Week St. Mary Church & Chapel Services


• The origin of Week St. Mary Village Revel Celebrations

The origins of the popular annual Week St. Mary Revel are lost in the mists of time although we recall again John Wesley's comment in his journal for 15th September 1746; "A guide, meeting us at Camelford, conducted us to St. Mary Week…. It was the time of the yearly revel , which obliged me to speak very plain".

The Harvest Queen is a fairly new innovation. When Week St. Mary Carnival ceased to be held there was a lapse of some years before the Harvest Queen was crowned in Revel Week to take the place of the former Carnival Queen. 

High up on the west face of the church which was built in 1643 are three bands of carvings depicting two hounds in full cry after a hare. This could well indicate a connection with the Revel celebrations which have always featured a hunt which met in the square early in the morning of Revel Monday. This was followed by sports, dancing to a band and fun for the old and younger, including a public tea and a service with a visiting preacher in the evening. 

At one time there was a Revel King who was drawn in a farm cart sitting on a pumpkin. This old custom was revived for one year in 1937 when Jack Colwill, sitting on a pumpkin, was crowned 'King' by Rev Hambrook. The King's identity was kept strictly secret until the last moment, adding spice to the occasion. 

In former days, celebrations were confined to the Sunday and Monday following the feast day of the patron saint, St. Mary the Virgin. Revel is remembered with great affection by the older inhabitants of the village, not least because Revel Monday meant a day off school. It was a day when any absent member of a family would make a special effort to come home. 

The Harvest Queen was crowned as part of the celebrations and her crown, made of corn, was constructed for each Harvest Queen by Mr. Norman Wilton and treasured as a keepsake by the wearer. Many of the old traditions remain though now festivities last a full week, providing entertainment to suit everyone.

Week St. Mary Revel is an annual event held in September each year. If you are new to the village this is a fun afternoon and evening when we uphold an old tradition of crowning the Harvest Queen and we revel and make merry with stalls and entertainment in the playing field. The afternoon’s revelry is completed with the now famous Revel Tea. All proceeds are shared out between the church and  chapel.

Please come everyone and join in and have a great time. The evening usually continues with a BBQ or similar and an evening of general entertainment for all.

• The calculation of the date for Week St. Mary Village Revel

The setting of the date for Revel has always been a bit of a mystery for some but here follows an explanation as written by the Rev Samuel Holker Haslam of Week St. Mary 1900-1919 and reproduced in the local magazine during that period.

The question has been asked why we keep the Revel or Dedication Festival on the first Sunday after September 15th. The following facts partly or wholly explain the matter...

Our church is dedicated to Blessed Virgin Mary, whose nativitiy is commemorated on 8th September. In connection with these Church Festivals grew the Village Fair Day, Pay Day and so on. Thus, it is recorded in the old registers of this parish, that a Fair was held at Week St. Mary on September 8th, and certain items appear in the Churchwardens' Accounts as having been paid on the Fair Day.

Now it happens that in 1762 by Act of Parliament eleven days, namely September 3rd to 18th inclusive were struck out of the Calendar, and if any Fair were held or any notice taken of the Nativity in that year, it could not possibly have been on the 8th for that was one of the days struck out. In that year September 1st would be Tuesday, September 2nd Wednesday, the next day Thursday had to be called 14th and Friday the 15th, and so on.

The calendar had got nearly 12 days behind time. What people were calling September 3rd was really September 15th.

Having then got between a week and a fortnight wrong "in numbering our days" what was to be done? It was probably best, as far as the Fair and money was concerned, as people had got without knowing it between a week and a fortnight behind time, to keep so; any further getting behind time in future would be prevented by cutting out the 29th February every fourth year, except the centuries; but it should still be understood that in the Calendar the 8th is still the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary and that was the original Festival and Fair of the Parish of Week St. Mary.

50º 45'03.84N  4º 30'01.39W      OS: SX 237977      Elevation: 142m

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