Berkshire

Farmer wins meadow in Aldermaston candle auction

Candle auction ceremony
Image caption The tradition also sees church wardens given pipes during the auction

A farmer has won the lease of a meadow in a Berkshire village after making the winning bid in a candle auction.

The age-old ceremony, which is held every three years, saw people bidding to lease a piece of land while a candle containing a horse-nail burns.

The person with the bid when the nail drops out of the specially-made tallow candle is named the winner.

The event was held on Monday with farmer David Moore declared the winner with a bid of £200 rent per year.

Councillor Dave Shirt, Aldermaston Parish Council chairman, said the farmer already owns an adjacent field and intended to take down a fence to let his cows graze on the meadow.

The land, about two acres in size, belongs to the local church which offers its lease every three years in a tradition dating back to the early 1800s.

'Dropped quickly'

The local vicar was the auctioneer for the night and church wardens, in-keeping with tradition, were given pipes, although they were not allowed to light them.

Mr Shirt said: "The night went very well with a lot of bids.

"The farmer is a past master and when he quietly went up to the stage you know the nail won't have long left.

"In the end it dropped out very quickly in about 15 minutes."

Mr Shirt said candle auctions had a long history.

"It was traditional to hold ship auctions at Lloyds Coffee House at Tower Hill in London and Samuel Pepys describes the sale of three hulks in his diary entry for 3rd September 1661," he said.

Organisers believe Chedzoy in Somerset is the only other village in the country which still holds the tradition, although only once every 21 years.

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