In 1842 the Loyal Cotswold Lodge of the Independent Order of Oddfellows had been established in Campden. At about the same time the Campden Branch of the Britannia Benefit Society was founded, its members, mainly agricultural labourers, who paying a small subscription, were entitled to medical attention, financial help if thy were unable to work through sickness and pay for burial.
These societies held annual club days to publicise and attract new members. The Thursday of Whit week was Britannia's Club Day, the Oddfellows was on the Friday and the Wake followed on the Saturday, thus three consecutive days of festivities.
In the 19th C it was custom for men to go round the streets on Club Days, to put boughs of oak outside all the public houses and the houses of prominent residents and tradesmen. Later in the day the men called for refreshment at the various houses thus honoured! Eventually these festivities together with sport, fancy dress, the crowning of a May Queen at Whit Monday fetes merged into Wake Day celebrations, tho’ Whit Monday Fetes have been continued by St Catharines Church & school.
During the last years of the C19 & early C20 Campden held extravagant Whit Monday floral displays, with both bicycles & carts pulled by a variety of animals representing most of the Town’s tradesmen. A committee arranged an elaborate programme of old English games including wheelbarrow, sack & donkey races.
Never before has the old Gloucestershire town assumed a more festive appearance. A fete held in connection with the Cirencester Working Men’s Society, a grand ‘do’ that surpassed that of a previous floral parade in Eastbourne!. A plan put into fruition in just three weeks! Flowers of all hues, flowers in infinite variety. Pavements thronged with the expectant.
Campden eclipsed Eastbourne!’