Christmas cheer as pioneer is celebrated at church event
- Credit: Celia Bartlett
A celebration of “The man who invented Christmas”, William Winstanley, was held at Quendon Church, St Simon and St Jude on Sunday, December 8.
Winstanley, head of a wealthy family in the village, defied Oliver Cromwell's ban on yuletide festivities in the 1650s when Quendon Church was closed by the Puritains.
He held celebrations at his home, The Berries, and is credited with inventing traditions including decking the hall, Christmas crackers, giving gifts and alms to the poor.
A prankster, he would hide a dragon along the roadside and note people's reactions in pamphlets which he sold in London, raising money to found the almshouses in Saffron Walden.
Children from Rickling School and other villagers dressed in 17th century costume, sang carols and rang bells with villager, Jonathan Webb entering the church dressed as Winstanley.
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A village spokesman said: "This is an annual event, which we revived four years ago. It was a great occasion and the church was full."
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