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What a day!

We can be pretty sure that John, his wife and children came into North Molton to join in the remarkable celebrations to mark the end of the Crimean War held there on 9 July 1856.  There was a Grand Parade and perhaps he was one of the “Carpenters, two and two, with belts trimmed with shavings and rosettes, etc.”  or one of the “Carpenters, two and two, with saw, plough, and various other tools” who participated.  The Parade is described in glorious detail in the South Molton Peace Herald.  It was led by a trumpeter on horseback followed by Men of the First Devon Militia, the Yeomanry Cavalry, with both the North Molton and South Molton Bands.  There were horses, sheep, cows, flags and banners.  There were horse-drawn vehicles and decorated marchers and tableau representing local trades from rat catching - including a "menagerie of live white rats" - to mining, with the "Captain of the Poltimore Copper Mine [and] Miners, two and two, in their dresses, with candles in their hats as at work, carrying various tools, and specimens of Copper Ore."

The account in the South Molton Peace Herald goes on to describe how “The Procession having traversed the street, and across the bridge to High Bullen, marched round a field of Mr Merston’s (of Brinsworthy) and then returned to the Square.  The Bands playing their lively and merry tunes, the waving of handkerchiefs, and, above all, the immense number of richly dressed ladies, made one of the prettiest sights ever seen in the North of Devon, and certainly ever in North Molton”.

The paper then continued with a description of the dinner for 800 people, the many tables, the fare provided in the King’s Arms, the toasts and speeches.  It concluded with an account of the tea for the Ladies, the evening’s amusements and, finally, with a description of the decorations and use of almost four hundred fir trees, so that “The Town was never so gay before, and the Fir Trees (found for the occasion through the kindness of Lord Poltimore) gave it the aspect of an immense grove”.  As Normon Annett says in his book on North Molton "What a day!"