When you live in London, it is hard to take the concept of ‘Lord of the Manor’ seriously! When we heard the local fete was to be held at Manor House, we thought no more than, “Great, we get to see a big house!”
Dorset has a special style to it. There is an air of private school, of landed gentry, of breeding. This may be the beautiful cows and sheep that abound in the fields, but breeding nevertheless.
School have fetes and fairs at least twice a year. Summer and Christmas, the stalls, the sideshows entertain and raise money for much needed equipment. These build a sense of community, past pupils come back to see their old school, neighbours pop in to support: it is a great event.
Villages do the same thing. Each parish organises a fete and it seemed a good idea to attend ours.
The Manor House is indeed grand. Beautiful grounds and a proud confident building. Amid the usual book stalls and bricabrac we see our new friends who run a plant nursery and a retired couple enjoying tea in the marquis.
Suddenly I feel at home. These are friends we have made over the last few days and they greet us warmly. We pay our due to lift the paper cups covering dozens of green bottles. Will they be unopened bottles of wine or filled with water? We cannot resist the books, or the home made marmalade. There is a very leisurely feel about the place, I am in no hurry to leave.
We drink tea, enjoy a burger from the barbecue and sit on the grass enjoying the views, quietly people watching. The dog show is a highlight for me. Mutts and hounds, scruff bags and pedigrees walk round the small ring. Some classes only had one dog enter, to nobody’s surprise they win first prize. Most animals seem to win something but it’s judged with care, informed by years of performing this role.
The competition is compared by the Lord of the Manor, and a grand job he does too. A sense of family pervades the arena, dogs and their owners are cajoled to enter. I love the fusion of serious and jovial.
It is our first taste of village life beyond the local pub: a mix of gentility and function.
I like it.