How ‘Father Christmas’
Lynsted Christmas Party 1923. Adeline Hosgood 6th in row before last.
Came to Lynsted
A Record Treat For Children
Adeline married Alfred Oyler 1937
Christmas is essentially a children’s festival. But, of all the children in this district, the young folks of Lynsted are to be the most envied. “Why this bold assertion” one might naturally ask. The answer is, “Because the boys and girls of Lynsted had a glorious time on the eve of Christmas- one of those times that youngsters dream about, but seldom realise” In this case, however, the dream came true right enough, as a ‘Gazette’ representative was able to see for himself.
In children’s tales of fiction there is generally a Fairy Prince or a Fairy Princess. In this case it was a Fairy Prince, who was none other than Mr Alfred Oyler, the youngest son of Mr & Mrs Potter Oyler, of Malthouse, Lynsted. Mr Alfred Oyler, a young man himself, has a tender heart for children. Twelve months ago he was anxious to give a Christmas treat to children, but circumstances intervened, and the idea could not be realised. This year, Mr Oyler, was determined that nothing should stop his projected treat. Accordingly every child of school age in Lynsted received a neat card inviting the recipient to a Christmas party at Lynsted School.
The party was fixed for Saturday evening, and at the appointed hour the young folks from Greenstreet, Tickham, Erriott Wood and other outposts of the parish converged on the School, a goodly company 140 strong. Arrayed in their best, the smiling boys and girls were greeted, first of all with elaborate decorations which made bright eyes grow brighter still; and the eyes of the youngsters fairly danced with delight as their gaze fell upon tables that were laden with dainties ready to be eaten. The catering for the tea was in the hands of Mr CH Gambell of Greenstreet, and this important part of the business was splendidly carried out, for Mr Gambell had secured the services of an able staff.
The young Host himself was as busy as a bee, looking after his young guests, and he was assisted by his father and mother Mr & Mrs Potter Oyler, Mrs Bert Jackson and Miss Gwendoline Oyler (his sisters) Mr & Mrs Clifford (old friends from London), Mr GAH Smith and Miss Mildred Smith and other friends. Mrs Leslie Doubleday and two of her little Sons from Hempstead, Bapchild were there; and Mr P Sykes, the Headmaster of Lynsted School was there, lending a hand wherever one was needed. Mr Smith is one of the managers of Lynsted School, and on the previous day when the school ‘broke up’ for the Christmas holidays he presented 2d to each child and gave each infant 3d as a little seasonable gift. Christmas bon-bons were by the side of each child’s plate and these were pulled, and the fairy paper caps they contained were donned - and great was the fun amongst the youngsters as the wondrous and fanciful headgear was assumed. Grown-ups as well as children wore these carnival caps. Mr Potter Oyler presented a striking figure in a conical green cap which resembled those caps that used to be worn by the school dunces and Mr Clifford had a miniature hat on his forehead which was decidedly bizarre. The Christmas spirit infected everybody.
After tea the tables were cleared and seats were arranged for what was to follow. On a decorated stage that had been erected for the occasion, Mr Alfred Oyler gave a conjuring entertainment that left his young audience guessing. Mr Oyler is a clever amateur slight-of-hand entertainer and his feats in turning a grey rabbit white and producing flowing plants out of space made the youngsters gasp with astonishment.
At intervals the lusty young voices of the children rang out in the Christmas carols, ‘King Wenceslaus’ and ‘Noel,” carols that have been handed down to us from the ages which will last as long as ‘time itself’. Mrs Jackson sang a song and played incidental music and then came the event of the evening, the arrival of Father Christmas. Unlike the traditional story Father Christmas, who was personated by Mr Victor Bloxham, did not come down the chimney; he stepped out from the interior of a cabinet which a moment before was shown to be empty. The youngsters were now on the tip-top of expectation and when they saw bulging bags brought on, from which Father Christmas distributed Christmas gifts, their joy knew no bounds. There were beautiful dolls, mechanical toys, books, games, fretwork sets, toy canoes and pistols and a host of other things. Rounds after round of presents were distributed from an apparently inexhaustible store charmed into existence by the Fairy Prince. No-one worked harder than Mr Potter Oyler in assisting in the distribution, he was fairly enjoying himself. As for the children, they were beside themselves with excitement. Their shrill cries of delight waxed louder and louder; the youngsters had at last entered Fairyland, the fairyland of their dreams. The Fairy Prince moved about among his young guest as quietly as though he had nothing to do with the exciting scene going on around him! Nothing to do with it! Why he was the promoter of the whole thing.
It did not need a voice of thanks to the Fairy Prince, proposed by Father Christmas, to remind them of that. Directly the words were spoken a deafening cheer burst from the delighted children.
When the distribution was over Father Christmas stepped into his cabinet and disappeared as mysteriously as he came. Father Christmas or Santa Claus might have been a myth; but the presents handed out were real enough. No Christmas tree could have borne their weight; nothing but a study England Oak or giant Norwegian pine could have done that.
This was not all. There was a good sized bag of oranges, apples figs, grapes etc for each child and another paper bag to carry away the toys. The youngest member of the party was Miss Barbara Jackson, aged just a little over two years, (the little granddaughter of Mr & Mrs Potter Oyler) and she was as delighted as anyone. The parents of the children arrived to take them home after lusty cheers for the Fairy Prince and other friends followed by the singing of ‘God Save the King” The young guests went away literally laden with gifts that had been distributed with a lavish hand. One of the gifts that had been distributed was a toy clapper. There will be some weird music heard in the homes of Lynsted as long as these clappers last. From this gay scene the young folks headed their way to their respective homes taking with them something of that Christmas spirit that will make for brightness in their lives. In the memory of the oldest inhabitants there had never been a Christmas party like this at Lynsted; and the generous and large-hearted entertainment of the young folks by Lynsted’s Fairy Prince and the ‘good time’ they had at Christmas. 1923 will never be forgotten.
Taken from the East Kent - Gazette December 29th 1923.
Thanks go to Society Member, Yvonne Osborne (nee Oyler)
for finding and sharing this article in December 2009