Heaven or hell at Halloween in Shropshire?

As Halloween looms closer little monsters across Shropshire are putting the finishing touches to their creepy costumes and cooking up wicked spells.

Ready for the Halloween coffee morning at the Lakeside Plant Centre at Priorslee in Telford are Kevin Turley and Scott Adams
Ready for the Halloween coffee morning at the Lakeside Plant Centre at Priorslee in Telford are Kevin Turley and Scott Adams

But October 31 is not a hit with everybody, especially where trick or treating is concerned.

We took to the streets to find out if people in Shropshire find this very modern tradition fearsome or frightfully amusing.

Dawn Cooper, 31, and Kim Sutton, 25, both of St Georges in Telford, said they would be dressing their children up as witches and Frankenstein's monster and joining them for some eerie fun.

Dawn said: "They love it but I wouldn't let them go on their own. I don't mind it when trick or treaters come round to a certain age.

"It depends who you have. Sometimes you get teenagers who have made no effort to dress up and they ask for money. One year my mum made cakes and they threw them up the house.

"But if it's little ones, we have sweets for them. Some people think it's begging and they don't answer the door or they have signs on their door saying no trick or treaters."

Getting ready for the big day are Fiona Portsmouth Ben Upton, Isabelle, nine, Zara, four, George, six, and Zak, three

And another family of fright night fans from Telford said they looked forward to trick or treating all year.

Fiona Portsmouth, 31, and Ben Upton, 33, of Woodside, said Isabelle, nine, Zara, four, George, six, and Zak, three, would be donning dreadful costumes.

Fiona said: "We take them every year. They love it. The girls usually go as witches. My father in law doesn't believe in it but I think it's just a bit of fun. The kids get a load of sweets and it doesn't cost me a penny."

But Peter Jones, of Lawley Village, branded the festival "an Americanised load of tosh".

His wife Karen added: "Our young grandchildren will go to a little Halloween party and the children next door will trick or treat with their parents so we have sweets for them."

Peter added: "It's not that we are miseries but we close the curtains and turn off the light.

"I don't think it's a good idea having children wandering around the streets in the dark knocking on doors. Do you really know your neighbours?"

Ruth Pemberton, from Lee Brockhurst, near Wem, has a 14-month-old daughter called Delilah.

She said: "It's such a tricky subject. Half of me thinks it's great and so much fun for children and when I was a child I used to love it.

"I think we should have Halloween parties and not be knocking on doors.

"It would be great for all ages if we encouraged people to throw parties to celebrate and discourage knocking in doors.

"This will stop people from disturbing the elderly, stop the kids from being out on the streets and make the fun part dressing up – not receiving gifts or money."

One woman from Market Drayton, who did not wish to be named, said she takes her child to friends' houses.

The mother of two has a 12-year-old and a seven-year-old but only takes her younger child.

She said: "I take mine but I only take them to people we know, we don't go knocking on strangers' doors because I think it is a bit disrespectful, there are old people and disabled people who don't want to be disturbed, it is a bit like cold calling."

Looking forward to Halloween are Dawn Cooper and Kim Sutton of St Georges, Telford

Eric Rawlinson, 46, of Randlay in Telford, said: "My daughters go trick or treating and they love it. I go with them. I think it's okay as long as the children are supervised and they respect the people whose doors they are knocking on."

Miriam Corbett, of Shrewsbury, said: "If they are little ones it's okay. I suppose it's nice for them if they come with their parents but when we get the older ones it's not so nice."

Meanwhile, specialist shops across Shropshire are feeling the benefits of Halloween, with many of them finding it the busiest time of year.

Dennis Hoare runs Party and Play Fancy Dress Shop in Wellington with help from his daughter Anita Gratton.

They have opened up a new shop in Telford Town Centre just in time to meet the Halloween rush.

Mrs Gratton said: "For us, that's where most of our sales come from, the period just before Halloween carrying on to new year. We have a much larger number of people coming through the doors. Our new shop in the Town Centre opened up just in time for Halloween.

"We've been in Wellington for 15 years and because of that experience in knowing what people want, this is a perfect time for the shop to be open.

"It's a really nice time to have a fancy dress shop, because people know what they're coming in for so they can help them find what they need, we can point them in the right direction.

"We are a lot busier and the days go quicker."

Even supermarkets find themselves busier during the spooky season.

Duncan Thompson, from Asda Donnington Wood, said traditional pumpkins are a particularly good seller.

He said: "Pumpkins go mad, we sell pumpkins by the boatload.

"We sell a big range of fancy dress and lots of sweets, the shop does go mad."

As a celebration, Halloween seems to have grown around the ancient Gaelic festival of Samhain, marking the end of the light half of the year and the beginning of the dark half.

Samhain was in part a sort of harvest festival, when the last crops were gathered in for the winter, and livestock killed and stored. But the pagan Celts also believed it was a time when the walls between our world and the next became thin and porous, allowing spirits to pass through.

The practice of wearing spooky costumes may have its roots in that belief: dressing up as a ghost to scare off other ghosts seems to have been the idea.

The name Hallowe'en is a shortening of All Hallows' Even, or All Hallows' Evening. All Hallows is an old term for All Saints' Day (Hallow, from the Old English "halig", or holy, compared with Saint, from the Latin "sanctus", also meaning holy, or consecrated).

As for trick or treating it is possible that the tradition emerged independently in America.

The first recorded use of the phrase "trick or treat" stems from 1927.

Trick or treating started in earnest in Britain in the 1980s, and was (and remains) viewed with some suspicion.

Sorry, we are not accepting comments on this article.

Top Stories

More from the Shropshire Star

UK & International News