Thurning Feast is a unique annual event that takes place on the 25th July in the small East Northamptonshire village of Thurning.
Tucked away on the edge of the county next to the Cambridgeshire boundary the villagers of Thurning continue to uphold a tradition dating back to The Middle Ages.
There are many historical references to the Feasts held in centuries past, however the current event has continued with the same theme since it was revived in the 1970s after a long interruption caused by WWII.
The Feast is one-day-only. The popular event and the festivities usually start in the early evening with live music and dance acts, food stalls, a vintage funfair, sideshows, stalls and bars in an open meadow beside a 12th century village church, and now welcomes villagers, locals and visitors from further afield and afar of all ages to enjoy a rural and quintessentially English experience until midnight.
The date of July 25th is the feast day of St. James The Great, patron of the village church and patron of pilgrims. The village was once an arrival or stopping point for pilgrims walking on the route to the Saint’s burial place in Santiago de Compostela in Northern Spain – hence the walking pilgrim logo used for the Feast. Documents from the confraternity of St James have Thurning firmly anchored on pre-reformation pilgrims’ maps and the most recent pilgrims set off from Thurning church for the Feast of St.James in Compostela in the early years of this century.
Thurning Church, also supported by the charity-led event, is mentioned by the renowned artist Christopher Whitworth Whall (1849- 1924) – a son of the village rector -in his memoirs: Stained Glass Work (1905). An angel playing a dulcimer during Thurning Feast is depicted in a piece of his work produced for the War Commission memorial windows in the ’20s.