Hampton is celebrating its 380th anniversary on Saturday, July 14, as the Hampton Historical Society and the First Congregational Church of Hampton will showcase the town’s history at the Tuck Museum.
Hampton is the third-oldest town in New Hampshire, behind neighboring Portsmouth and Rye, respectively.
“Dover and Portsmouth were founded more as trading towns and Exeter and Hampton were settled as communities with actual settlers. The people that came here came to settle,” said Betty Moore, the executive director of the Tuck Museum. “One of the things that is interesting about Hampton is that up until World War II you still had that core group of families that were living in this town.”
The free celebration will take place from noon to 4 p.m. where a number of local organizations will be displaying their works and interacting with the community. The Hampton Garden Club will display projects that have been done around town, the Hampton Arts Network will be putting on painting demonstrations and the Masonic Lodge will be selling hamburgers and hot dogs throughout the afternoon. Various local individuals will be displaying handmade decoy duck carvings, big-wheel bicycles, antique cars and firetrucks.
“We invited different organizations around the town to join us for the day as a way to promote their organizations and let people know about them, get an opportunity to join them if they would like. It’s about public awareness and a celebration of the different organizations that are in town,” said Moore.
One of the biggest anticipated attractions at this year’s celebration is the Viking reenactment group Draugar Vinlands.
“We have ‘Thorvald’s Rock,’ which has a unique story about being the place where a Viking was killed. … The Viking reenactment, it’s sort of a nice twist in history and it’s a little bit unusual so people like that and come for that,” said Moore.
Other anniversary attractions include school teacher reenactments by Priscilla Thoen to help inform guests about early education in Hampton, weaving demonstrations by Andrea Williams in the barn, and videos in the Tuck Building throughout the afternoon showing the history of Hampton. The museum itself will be open to the public, with the newest display of Hampton souvenir china front and center.
“It’s a celebration of community. With our local history, with organizations that are active in Hampton, it’s a little bit of something for everyone,” said Moore. “We’re looking at it, as the museum, from the historic end, but we invited these other groups as a nice way to spend a summer afternoon enjoying the community.”
Hampton’s First Congregational Church will be putting on a lobster bake at 5 p.m. for $20 a ticket, which can be purchased through the church or through the Tuck Museum. Hot dogs and hamburgers are also being sold for $10 per ticket.
“The town does a big celebration every quarter-century but the First Congregational Church had called us and asked us if we were going to be doing anything regarding the 380th anniversary this summer,” said Moore. “We decided to join forces.”
Hampton began as a fishing and farming community in 1638. The area has since been divided up into nine separate towns spanning to the lower part of Rye and Seabrook, up to Kensington and Kingston. The museum was founded as a memorial park and a part of the property that the Tuck Museum is on is where the original meeting house was that helped found and begin the town. A number of the early churches were built on the site, as well as the first and second Hampton Academy.
“The piece of property itself has a lot of significance to the history of the town,” said Moore. “It’s an opportunity for people to see what the community has to offer and it’s just a great way to get together in the summer.
— Andrew Clay
*Featured photo of viking reenactment group, courtesy of Betty Moore.