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Choir’s excess beer, 1878

Extract from Headington Parish Magazine, March 1878:

Seven of the adult members of the Choir having, on Sunday, February 17th, suddenly left it, after only announcing their intention the previous Friday, the Vicar thinks it as well to state, for the information of the Parishioners, the avowed reason for their so doing. At the annual Christmas supper paid for out of the funds collected by Mrs. Pearson for the general expenses of the Choir, a substantial hot repast was provided by Mr. Wyatt at a cost of 3s. 6d. per head, including a pint of beer to each one. As sixteen were paid for at this rate, two gallons of beer were thus provided for at starting. In the course of the evening moreover (Mr. Wyatt having been only limited generally not to supply additional beer in excess), three more gallons were (as shown in the bill) consumed. Not satisfied with this, however, the choir (after the Vicar had retired) sent for a bottle of gin and another of whiskey on their own responsibility entirely. These (when the bill was brought to him) not having sanctioned, the Vicar refused to pay for; and hence the refusal of the seven to go on singing in the choir. Considering that last year only three gallons of beer were drank on a similar occasion, most people will probably consider that five gallons of best beer amongst fourteen men (the number actually present) was more than a sufficient allowance of liquor, independently of the question whether spirits, on such an occasion, were in themselves desirable. But, however this might be, the Vicar, as responsible to those who had kindly subscribed in aid of the expenses of the choir for the use made of their money, could not allow it to be spent in so questionable a manner, or without any previous reference to himself.

The Vicar gladly takes this opportunity of thanking publicly several kind friends who came forward directly the defection of the choir men was known, and at once offered themselves to supply the vacancies. The Vicar is also much indebted to the members of the Choir who stood to their posts at so critical a time, – not forgetting the boys, who sang bravely – and, by their hearty exertions and cordial co-operation with those who came to their aid, made the absence of the defaulters hardly, if at all, perceptible.

William Wyatt was the landlord of the White Hart from about 1863 to 1883. The Vicar of St Andrew’s between 1876 and 1879 was the Revd Alleyn Ward Pearson.

© Stephanie Jenkins

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