Capel Fete has been an annual event in the parish of Capel, Tonbridge, Kent for many years.
We are still researching the Fete History and thanks to Don Foreman and his researches in the Kent & Sussex Courier archive we know the following.
In July 1895 there is reference to the 6th Annual Show. As Capel Gardeners Society was established in 1889, this must be the 6th Gardeners Show. It was held on Mr Pemble’s field (i.e. the one opposite Capel School); it featured flowers, vegetables and handicrafts – sounds familiar. But it also had “coconut shies, park swings etc.” Thus it had aspects of a fete as well as a flower show. We have a photograph from 1910 which is entitled “Flower Show” but there is a carousel type roundabout in the photograph, implying a fete aspect.
The Kent & Sussex Courier of 25th August 1922 reports that “Capel’s Fete, held on the 16th August raised £272 for the Capel War Memorial. Donated items/produce subsequently sold at Paddock Wood market raised another £35.” According to the Internet, £307 today would be between £16,000 and £18,000! Was this a one-off event or the start of a regular event?
In 1945 there was a bonfire in the village to celebrate VE day and maybe this started or kick-started an annual fete as the records from Tonbridge Free Press in 1952 include mention of a Capel Show with fancy dress for children. In 1953 “The afternoon started with a fancy dress parade and parade of decorated vehicles”. In the fifties the fete was held on the Pemble field opposite the school. There were a few years when we know that the fete wasn’t organised (between the 1960s or early 1970s and 1992). There was however a ‘one off’ in 1977 for the Queen’s Silver Jubilee. In 1992 the fete was brought back to life by an enthusiastic group consisting of Ann Smith, Christine Langridge, Christine Summers, Angela Pattenden, Graham Whibley, and Charlie Simmons amongst others. Since 1992 there has been a fete and procession every year. Unfortunately the fete in 2020 has had to be cancelled due to the Coronavirus pandemic and Government guidance regarding social distancing.
In recent years the fete has grown in size and popularity, attracting an estimated crowd of between 1,500 and 2,000 people on the first Saturday of July. Since 1992, the fete has commenced with a traditional procession of decorated floats, other vehicles, pipe band and walking groups from Tatlingbury Farm (opposite Capel School) to the Recreation Ground in Five Oak Green where the main fete and Gardeners’ Show are held. On the recreation ground itself there are traditional fete stalls and side shows, arena displays, refreshments and a funfair.
The fete is arranged each year by a small committee of volunteers who are dedicated to the preservation of this annual event for the community. The fete committee is a not for profit organisation. Fundraising on the day and during the year is used to host subsequent fetes. Capel Parish Council supports the fete financially with liability insurance for the day. The fete committee are also very grateful to local businesses and organisations that provide additional financial and practical support for this community cause. Excess funds gained during the fundraising activities of the fete committee are distributed to parish organisations and groups for the benefit of the community as a whole.
In recent years, recipients have included: Brownie and Guiding Groups, Capel Gardeners Society, Capel Pre School, Capel Country Friends (Club for the elderly), Village Lunch group, Cubs and Scouts. In addition, two memorial benches for the parish have been purchased. Many local groups benefit financially from their own fundraising on fete day. Organisations also benefit by the raising of awareness of their causes.
Local groups who benefit from fete day in the ways outlined above include:
- Christians Together in Capel
- Capel Primary School PTA
- Capel Pre School
- 1st Five Oak Green Rainbows, Brownies, Guides and Rangers
- Capel Gardeners Society
- Capel Community Association
- Capel History Group
- Capel Cricket Club
- Capel Path Rangers
- Capel Sports and Social Club
- Paddock Wood Lionesses
Other charities also benefit by having stalls and exposure. Recent stallholders have included Help for Heroes, Kent Air Ambulance, RNLI, Weald Association for the Disabled etc.
Since 2012 and the withdrawal by Kent Police of support for events such as ours, the procession, B2017 road closure and fete have been managed and marshalled successfully by volunteers from the community. The fete committee is always in need of help to put on this event for the benefit of the whole community.
Please contact us
If you can spare a few hours in the lead up to the fete or just on fete day itself; if you would like a stall on fete day; if your group, business or organisation would like a float in the procession or if your local business could help us with sponsorship.