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                  TIPTEERERS    
  THE STORY OF SHOREHAM                    
                           
            liveliness entered into the proceedings, they were but splendid opportunities for the processions of Bonfire Boys in all manner of fantastic costumes, the rolling of blazing tar barrels, the display of fireworks, and the concluding bonfire on the " Ham." It is a good many years since the " fifth " was properly celebrated in Shoreham.
occasionally opened for concerts and entertainments, such as those given by the " Adur Minstrels," a sometime flourishing company of Shoreham gentlemen, much addicted to the practice of " blacking up," after the manner of the Mowhawk Minstrels. " But they, I hear," says a local poet, " have washed themselves and so have ceased to be."  
              The " Tipteerers " are never seen in Shoreham in these days. Like many another old and somewhat picturesque custom, it has fallen into disuse and is almost forgotten.   The " Tipteerers " flourished at Christmastide.   They were usually a party of about six men, dressed in costumes to represent various characters, such as Old Father Christmas, a Noble Captain, St. George (sometimes " King George "), a Turkish Knight, a Valiant Soldier,
And then came the days when the gardens were entirely closed to the public.   Nature alone held sway there and had her own way with them, and a beautiful way it was, too.   Surely, never in former times, when so carefully tended by expert gardeners, had they appeared so lovely.   A veritable wild garden.   So the place remained until a part was acquired for building the New Council School.   This stands nearly on the site of the ball-room, of which, and the entrance to the gardens, we give illustrations reproduced from the late Mr. Arthur Loader's architectural drawings.    
    a Prince Feather-in-hand, and a Doctor.   They acted a curious mumming play, which may possibly have had its origin in the miracle play, " St. George and the Dragon," well known in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.   The practice of " Tipteering" was not, of course, peculiar to this town, but flourished elsewhere in the county, especially in West Sussex, where it is even yet not quite a thing of the past.   Some of the actors who were wont to take part in this diversion at Shoreham are still living, but the custom has not been observed in the town for the last forty years or more.
The first Shoreham Regatta was held in 1854 and was an annual fixture up to the outbreak of the War, during the continuance of which it remained in abeyance.   It was resumed with all its former vitality in 1919.   Always an event of great local interest, it was formerly the custom to wind up the day with a ball at the Swiss Gardens.   In more recent times, illuminated boats on the river, street processions, and carnivals, have formed a fitting termination to the day's proceedings.   The late Mr. John Ellman Brown was the first Honorary Secretary of Shoreham Regatta.   It may be mentioned that the same gentleman was an enthusiastic archaeologist and took much interest in the history of the town.   He was Vice-Consul to five nations, and for many years, held the office of Clerk to the Local Governing Body, a position now held by his son, Mr. Harold Brown.   Altogether the period served in this office by father and son, extends to nearly fifty years.    
    During the afternoon and evening of Boxing Day, Father Christmas would visit the houses of rich and pogr. Entering, he addressed the inmates in doggerel rhyme, somewhat after the following fashion :
                 
      " In comes I, Old Father Christmas, Welcome in or welcome not; And I hope that I, Old Father Christmas Will never be forgot."  
                 
    He then introduced his characters.   " King George " entering, boasted of his prowess and challenged all brave warriors to fight His challenge having been accepted by the Turkish Knight, a vigorous fight ensued between the two champions, in which " King George " was usually victorious, his opponent falling
Guy Fawkes Day was formerly celebrated with much spirit, and sometimes with a certain amount of rowdyism. Years ago the bonfires were lighted in the High Street; and many a tradesman in those days   specially if he had the misfortune to be unpopular -would find his shop minus its shutters, which had been carried off to feed the flames.   On one occasion at least, the church-yard gates suffered a like fate, for the " boys " burnt up anything they could lay their hands upon.   The celebrations of later years were happily free from this sort of thing, and although much    
    grievously wounded.   Sometimes " King George " was defeated, but fighting again, he vanquished his rival.   The Doctor was then hastily summoned, who, arriving on the scene, administered a wonderful pill which revived the prostrate foeman.
                 
                           
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Copyright © Martin Snow 2002 All rights reserved
Revised 27 February 2002