I Wandered Lost around Aldwincle, Mocked by an Alan Titchmarsh Scarecrow

Article excerpt

I should have known something odd was coming up when, meandering south out of Oundle in Northamptonshire, we got to the village of Stoke Doyle. Almost the only things in Stoke Doyle are a pub and a sign announcing that Stoke Doyle is twinned with Barcelona. We then hit the village of Aldwincle, where a man stepped into the road and ushered us into a car park that had been created in a field. When we were neatly slotted into a row of 30 cars, I asked why he had done this, and he explained that Aldwincle's annual Scarecrow Trail was in full swing and that he'd assumed we'd come to see it.

Aldwincle is a Saxon name meaning "little corner". The village hall is full of photographs of a Lord Lilford opening the hall in 1907. There are also many photographs from a village pageant held in 1909, most showing the villagers dressed in periwigs, ruffs and frock coats, and bowing to each other elaborately. Many momentous events were re-enacted at that pageant, such as scenes from the life of Henry de Aldwyncle, and the granting of market rights by King John to Thrapston. I assumed that the Scarecrow Trail was also of medieval origin, but, in fact, it dates all the way back to 2000.

Every house in the village takes part. Scarecrows are created the image of figures from British culture and displayed in the front gardens of the houses, on top of walls, in haystacks, trees and so on, producing an overall effect of Stars In Their eyes meets The Wicker Man. …