The Harris played a huge part in merriment at Guild
Harris Institute students joined around 2,000 youngsters from schools and community groups all over Preston who were crammed into Avenham Park in early September 1922.
Students dressed up in medieval costume to re-enact “the ancient court of Pie Poudre” .
Writing in the magazine, participant Edna M Robinson remembers: “Our part in the Guild Pageant was an old English Fair of the days of Queen Elizabeth—the merriest thing you ever saw. The booths and stalls made a pretty picture, with their old-fashioned wares displayed and arranged to the best advantage by the various sellers.
Among the buyers one could easily pick out the Lord and Lady of the Manor and the other aristocrats, followed by their retainers and maids.”
There was a real sense of merriment in the air: “Here were to be seen dancing girls, wrestlers, giants, jugglers, Punch and Judy, and a performing bear which roused the chorus of thousands of shrieks of laughter.”
Later that day, Harris staff and students staged a comedic re-enactment of “the Court of Pie Poudre” (an example of countrywide medieval courts which dealt swift justice in matters arising in market life, from theft to disputes between merchants).
Robinson reported: “The bellman rings in the judge, and the aldermen of the various guilds gather from the four corners of the market and take up their seats as the jury. Trouble has arisen. A pedlar has sold a brass ring for gold. The clerk gives an account of the offence. The assayer tests the ring. The jury convict the offender.
“The judge pronounces the sentence.
Now we see the guilty pedlar being hurried off to the pillory followed by a jeering crowd who hurl eggs and refuse from the market at him.”
Hundreds of people were involved in making the day such a success.
Editor Annie Wilkinson offers her thanks to everyone, not least “Mr Rathbone [who] painted Punch and Judy”, “the sewing bees, Mrs Moyle, Mrs Jackson and Miss Bannister, who transformed all kinds of garments into fashionable Elizabethan costumes” and finally Mr Whincup, who helped us with our singing.”