Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy would have been justly proud to have been part of the mayhem and merriment taking place at the Dickensian Christmas Festival held in Stan’s home town of Ulverston, Cumbria.
WM of Lathom Abbey Lodge No 6286 John Mercer and his wife Sheila had invited members and friends of the lodge to accompany them on the first of a number of events planned for his Masonic year. An early start was called for with 14 taking up the invitation to meet at the Ormskirk Masonic Hall. Once underway they headed north with the prospect of good weather, exceptional company and much to look forward to.
The Christmas market has been one of the highlights of the Ulverston town festival calendar for a number of years and is enjoyed annually by 1,000s, young and old. The central streets of this picture perfect town are lined with stalls selling every kind of gift imaginable.
The range of food stalls alone would make even the most ardent gastronome green with envy. From pies and pasty’s of every description including one aptly named the Christmas dinner pasty containing turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce with other stalls specialising in venison and exotic meats and every kind of sausage imaginable with one aptly named ‘Brewers Droop.’
The range of bottled drinks on offer for sale from specialist suppliers was incredible, with a wide choice catering for every discerning palate. A colourful children’s fairground tempted the young at heart, also on offer was a miniature train and donkey rides and who could resist meeting Santa’s Reindeer.
Following the parade the stars of this event were of course the residents of the town and the many stall and shop staff who were dressed in Dickensian costumes and freely mingled with the many visitors, stopping for photos and the occasional chat. Comedy and spectacle was on offer provided by the many street entertainers, artisans, buskers, bands, singers and dance troupes who seemed to be on every street corner wherever you went.
Along with the many visitors the members of the lodge had a wonderful time with many taking more than their fair share of hospitality on offer with a drink or two in the aptly named Sun Inn a local hostelry.
Sadly all good things most come to an end and it was soon time to board the coach and leave Cumbria and head back to Lancashire, with one final stop planed at The Fox Cub, Walmer Bridge for a heart-warming meal and much more ‘vino callapso.’
Incidentally Stan Laurel was a Lancastrian as Ulverston was part of Lancashire until the Local Government Act of 1972, when in 1974 it became part of Cumbria which was some nine years after Stan passed away.
A comedian until the very last, Stan Laurel, just minutes away from death on 23 February 1965, told his nurse he would not mind going skiing right at that very moment. Somewhat taken aback, the nurse replied that she was not aware that he was a skier. “I’m not,” said Stan, “I’d rather be doing that than have all these needles stuck into me!” A few minutes later, the nurse looked in on him again and found that Stan had quietly passed away.