Square Fête, the first of the 2019 events on the Square in Retford, provided great entertainment from the time of the origins of the Charter with quality shopping for everyone on Sunday 26th May. The rain and the wind came but did not deter the performers, the stallholders or the visitors who came to support this exciting start to the Summer Sundays on the Square programme. There was a great range of stalls bringing arts and crafts, food and drink, and more. Doncaster, Leeds and Lincoln Waites played a range of musical pieces from the middle ages to the time of the Mayflower Pilgrims. They told great stories about the times and explained their fascinating range of musical instruments, including the amazing Hurdy Gurdy. A re-enactment of the signing of the Retford Charter was carried out by theatrical favourites, Talegate Theatre.
The Pilgrim Embroiderers were in place in Spencer’s on the Square creating their embroideries of five key locations in the Mayflower Pilgrims story (Austerfield, Scrooby, Babworth, St Swithun’s Retford and Sturton-le-Steeple). Visitors were encouraged to ‘add a stitch’ to create a permanent contribution to the artworks. Bassetlaw Christian Heritage is raising funds for the Pilgrim Embroiderers so that they can frame the work in time for the Pilgrims Festival in November 2019. They need £750 and have raised £158 so far — to find out how to contribute, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Retford is one of the oldest boroughs in England and was mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086 as ‘Redeforde’. Henry I established the borough in 1105, and it gained a Royal Charter in 1246, when Henry III granted the right to a fair. This was later extended to holding a Saturday Market by Edward I in 1275. There was much interest from visitors in the story of Retford’s Charter and the history of the town and there are plans underway to involve residents in a future event.
The original Leeds Waites existed from 1530 to 1531 until they were disbanded in 1835. The City Waites were the Mayor of Lincoln’s Band of Musicians (until 1857). Waites do not play the music of the courts and the aristocracy, but the music of the streets. The Waites were the original town bands and Doncaster had a band of Waites from 1457 to 1832. Retford also had a Waites band until the late Victorian era, and the badges are on show at Bassetlaw Museum.