St. Keverne Feast and Harry Perry's Stall

Memories by Billy Moyle

Anyone with a sweet tooth living in the Helston area in the 1920s would probably have been a fan of Harry Perry and his home-made rock stall.

Harry lived with the Downing family in Meneage Street, Helston where he had a mass of ovens and other equipment to make rock in all different lengths and colours. He and his assistant Cissie Downing took the stall all over the Lizard Peninsula including to St Keverne for the annual feast celebrations in November.

In the 1920s St Keverne Feast was one of the highlights of village life. A two day holiday was enjoyed by all local residents including the children, after headmaster Tom Whale and deputy head Lewis John Hayden decided there was little point opening the school for only a handful of youngsters from outside the village.

Monday was the day for hunting with beaters hired to feed the band of guns at regular shoots at Lanarth. The rest of the men-folk made their way to the Lowlands via Trebarveth Farm lane to secure a good vantage point from which to watch the hounds. Other sportsmen were also out hunting - a crowd going looking for rabbits, armed mostly with nets, and others shooting wood pigeons from the trees.

On the Tuesday - the main Feast day - the village was a hive of activity as the stallholders, including Harry Perry, arrived to claim their stall or "standing" for the day.

On one Feast Tuesday Harry invited Dick Lory and me to visit him one evening in Helston to see the rock and other confectionary being made. A few days later we set off on Dick's motorbike with me as pillion. We spent a very pleasant evening with Harry, helping him to mix and taste various potions, liquids and colourings and then filling the moulds with them. However, we did not realise that some of the mixtures were very potent, a fact that we did not notice until we came out into the cold night air at about 11 o'clock to ride back to St Keverne. Dick drove hell for leather and was going so fast around Treskewes corners that he struck one of them. I was thrown over the hedge while Dick was hanging half way up the hedge. We pushed the bike to Dr Spry's surgery at Polventon but it was a long wait to see the doctor because he was at one of his dance sessions which did not end until midnight. I left Dick at the surgery and went home, hoping that no-one would see my face bleeding from being torn by brambles. Unfortunately, my older sister Edna was waiting for me and, after giving me a good telling off, then proceeded to go and spill the beans to Dick's sister Winnie. Dick needed six stitches in his head wound and probably had a scar for the rest of his life.

Billy Moyle February 2003