Readers might be interested in an article printed in the South Molton Gazette dated December 29th 1888 describing how Christmas was celebrated in the town.
"The shop windows from the various streets have during the past week presented a pleasing and attractive appearance, amongst the principal ones being those of Mr. Lyddon Tanner, Messrs. Kingdon & Son, Mr. J. E. Eldridge, of the Phoenix Stores, Mr. Charles Williams (Fore Street*), grocers, Messrs. Tall & Son, confectioner and Mr. George Hodge, confectioner; whilst at the stationary establishments of Mr. W. Tucker, Mr. G. Poole and Mr. A. R. Tucker a roaring trade has been done in Christmas cards. The poultry and butchers markets have been well stocked and speedily unstocked. On Thursday there was the largest supply of poultry ever brought to the South Molton market, one firm of dealers having purchased and packed off between 4 and 5 tons.
On Friday, Dr. Hatherly, one of the Charity Trustees, attended at the Town Hall and distributed the sum of £10:16s.Od, the "Christmas money", to poor persons resident in South Molton in sums varying from 1s to 2s.6d.
At the Parish Church the service was prettily and tastefully decorated. The pulpit was arranged with sprigs of ivy, interspersed with chrysanthemums and other choice flowers. The communion was also artistically arranged with geraniums, chrysanthemums and ferns as were the lectern and reading desk. Amongst the mottos were:
"Unto us a child is born"
"Unto us a son is given"
At the various other Nonconformist places of worship services were held at each and there were good congregations.
A party of "waits" paraded the town on Christmas Eve, consisting of members of the Wesleyan choir, the anthem chosen being "See, see, they come, a glorious army down the bright celestial road".
At the Post Office the officials had a busy time but with one or two exceptions the deliveries have been fairly punctual. On Christmas Day the mail which was due at 6 a.m. did not arrive until 12.30 p.m.
The inmates of the Workhouse have been exceptionally well provided for this year. On Christmas Eve a bountiful tea was provided in the dining hall, after which a musical entertainment was given, interspersed with dancing. During the evening, coffee, oranges, sweets, nuts, ale and tobacco were fairly distributed. The treat was provided by funds generously subscribed by inhabitants of the town. The following ladies and gentlemen took part in the entertainment: The Misses Poole, Dr. Kendle, Messrs. G. Poole and A.W.C. Martin, many others being present. At the close hearty cheers were given for those who had contributed to the eveningís enjoyment. "
* This should be Broad Street, as far as I am aware this has never been known as Fore Street and is probably a reporterís error.
Researched and written by Shirley Bray
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