Fenny Stratford Firing the Fenny Poppers

Where: Leon Recreation Ground, Fenny Stratford (just South of Queensway)
When: 11th November (or Saturday 10th if 11th is a Sunday)
Time: 12 noon, 2 pm & 4pm


The Fenny Poppers are six tankard-shaped miniature cannon which are fired every November 11th in memory of Dr Thomas Willis who died on this date;  he was the grandfather of Browne Willis who built St Martin’s Church in Fenny Stratford and started the custom in the mid eighteenth century. The location of the event has varied over time and  was moved to the local park in recent years where there is plenty of room.A large brazier heats the long poker which is touched to gunpowder on each of the Poppers in turn – traditionally the first is lit by the incumbent of St Martin’s Church and I was lucky enough to be invited to light one myself (Number 6 -and you get a certificate which is now in my file of treasured possessions!). The ceremony lasts just a few minutes and is exceedingly loud!!

Helpful Hints

The local summer festival is named after the Fenny Poppers and takes place in August – though one of the Poppers is fired at the festival, don’t confuse this with the annual November 11th tradition.

When the 11th falls on a Sunday, the Poppers are fired on Saturday 10th instead (this won’t happen again until 2018).

Leon Recreation Ground is behind rows of houses – a signed footpath leads south from Queensway where there are some parking bays (you can park for up to an hour here and there are other parking options nearby). It can be muddy underfoot. Be prepared for  some very loud bangs! The organisers are  friendly and welcoming and give out leaflets about the custom to visitors.

Click here for the local websites : http://www.fennyfestival.fennystratford.org.uk/


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