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No Bambi or beer but spirit of the feast lives on

On the TV or radio, whenever anyone is interviewed about Stoke-on-Trent, someone always says “the people are great.” And every community in Stoke-on-Trent says the same. Our city is just over 100 years old, but our communities go back centuries.

Shelton is probably one of the oldest, mentioned in William the Conqueror’s Domesday Book in 1085 (think about that – almost a thousand years ago) and being recognised for its hospitality 400 years later by King Henry VII, who rested in Shelton on his way to battle.

So it’s no surprise that Shelton grew up proud of itself. So proud, indeed, that when, in 1783, the elders of our community decided that if Newcastle could have its own Mayor, then so should Shelton.

It’s a scene straight from an Arnold Bennett novel, and described by John Ward in his book The Borough of Stoke-upon-Trent in the commencement of the reign of Queen Victoria, when he writes: “They therefore (held) a mock Mayor’s feast, called also the venison feast” and “Mr Stephen Chatterley was appointed to the honour of being Mayor of Hanley and Shelton.”

Around seventy people attended the venison feast each year. To get in they had to drink a yard of ale (around two and a half pints of beer) in one go. A haunch of venison (yes… like Bambi) was provided each year by the Duke of Sutherland, who lived at the magnificent Trentham Estate, now Trentham Gardens.

While drinking lots of beer and eating Bambi may seem strange to us now, there is a lot to be said for communities coming together, sharing food and drink, and celebrating that togetherness.

With that kind of unity comes strength (our City’s motto is Vis Unita Fortior – “United strength is stronger) and the Under One Roof project is about celebrating the stories, people and journey of Shelton, past, present and future.

In years gone by, children from St Mark's school would sing as they marched around the community in celebrations and processions. The venison feast celebrated civic pride and community strength.

Food is really important to Shelton. Our community is an attraction for food lovers to rival the best in the UK.

So please follow our Facebook page to keep in touch with the Undr One Roof timetable and please join in with your project.

Bambi may not be on the menu any more… and you won’t have to drink beer to join in… but the spirit of the venison feast lives on.

Photo by Samantha Gades on Unsplash

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