What is the Witney Feast?
The Witney Feast is one of West Oxfordshire's most eagerly-anticipated events: an annual festival dating back nearly 800 years to celebrate the rededication of St Mary’s Church. It is traditionally held on the two days following the first Sunday of September - the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin.
The Witney Feast 2023
- Saturday 9th September: Oktoberfest Beer Festival hosted inside St Mary's from 12:00 to 19:00. There are a range of beers & lagers, German style sausages and an Oompah Band. Funds raised by this family friendly event go to charity.
- Sunday 10 September at 1800 in Saint Mary the Virgin, Church Green, Witney we will have a Civic Service to mark the 880th anniversary of the re-dedication of the new church. At this service:
- We will consecrate a new altar that is made from wood which has come from a Cedar of Lebanon tree that grew in the churchyard for hundreds of years.
- The bishop of Dorchester will bless the Mayor and Town Council.
- Following the civic service we will process onto the fairground to bless the town and the fair.
- Sunday 10th September: the traditional blessing at the Golden Gallopers carousel on the Leys. Starts around 19:15. Hymns are played on the fairground organ while the service is held alongside golden horses and cockerels.
- Monday 10th September: Ready to clear out the clutter? Join us at St. Mary's Church OX28 4AW for a fantastic Table Top Sale on Mon, Sept 11th from 3:30 PM to 7:00 PM! Discover treasures from 2nd hand goodies to crafts & clothes. Vendors, email firstname.lastname@example.org to secure your spot: £10 w/table, £5 BYO table. See you there!
- Monday 11th and Tuesday 12th September: one of the country's largest fun fairs on the Leys with a mix of traditional rides such as the Waltzer but also the Star Flyer, Space, Superstar, Extreme, Jumping Frogs, Dominator, Stargate
The History of the Witney Feast
Many people will know Witney Feast just as a fun fair that takes place on the Monday and Tuesday evenings. But there is a historic link between the feast and St Mary's Church
- The first Witney Feast dates back to 1243 when King Henry III granted two deer from the Royal Forest of Wychwood to help celebrate the rededication of the church we now know as St Mary's on the Green.
- Records from the 1640s report the feast as having “dancing, singing and much drinking”
- by the 1790s there was a fair selling livestock and merchandise.
- In the 19th century there were horse races on Curbridge Down and, by the 1870s, there was a large pleasure fair and people were shipped in on special trains.
- In 1902 legendary cricketer WG Grace attended the feast
- In 1904 festivities moved from Church Green to The Leys to accommodate more festivities.
[source: Witney Gazette]
Huge thanks to all the hard work put in by fair organisers and Witney Town Council in organising this historic and fun annual event of celebration.
Gallopers Service on the Sunday Night of the Witney Feast
Feast Funfair on the Leys