Eccles Wakes : Racing for the Smock

Joseph Parry, 1744 - 1826

Eccles Wakes : Racing for the Smock

Joseph Parry 1744 - 1826


Village scene depicting a festival and the tradition of 'racing for the smock'. A field has been converted into a temporary race course over which three men race on donkeys, the foremost on the left almost unseated as his donkey bucks. Crowds cheer them on to left and right, two figures balancing in a tree above the crowd to the left, the frilled smock pinned to a cross held by the crowd on the right. Wood-beamed public house in the background to left, amongst the trees, church tower just visible behind it.

Display Label

Eccles Wakes: Racing for the Smock 1808 Joseph Parry 1756-1826 Oil on canvas The ladies’ smock suspended on the right is the prize to be awarded to the sweetheart of the winning rider in the donkey race. Such races were a usual feature of the annual Wakes fair, which took place on the first Sunday after 25 August, plus the three succeeding days. Originally, ‘Wakes’ were religious celebrations held throughout England to accompany the annual dedication of Parish Churches to their patron saints, but by Parry’s lifetime the Wakes had become rowdy fairs. Although he includes a church tower in the background, it is part of a generic landscape and not a depiction of St Mary’s Church in Eccles. Purchased 1927.12

Object Name

Eccles Wakes : Racing for the Smock

Creators Name

Joseph Parry

Date Created



unframed: 71.7cm x 91.8cm
framed: 99.5cm x 119.4cm

accession number


Place of creation





oil paint


© Manchester Art Gallery

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