In 1932 the entire village got together to create a Christmas play called Chrystmasse in ye Olden Tyme The play was produced by the Rev. Ravenscroft, then rector of Calverton, and Aelwyn Williams who was the son of Lord Penhryn's estate manager. It was performed at the School in Lower Weald.
The play concerned a party in a rich man's house, to which all sorts of
people were invited. It was apparently an old Devon play.
Edith Tompkins, then Edith Miller, was a key participant. She played the part of Mrs Kate Ripple, the hostess. She can still remember the exact words with which she welcomed the village children to the party. She said:
"Welcome sweet children
I love your merry song
To the long past ages do the
Have a bun."
She also remembers wearing a costume which was way too large for her, so that it had to be stuffed with tissue paper which rustled as she walked.
The photograph of the whole cast was taken after the last night performance, which was on a Saturday evening. The rector had said that there could be a party in the School House after the play, but that it must end on the dot of midnight so that it didn't run over into Sunday, which would not have been fitting.
Edith can remember being very fed up at having to wait around while the photograph was being taken, as she felt that it was wasting good dancing time.
Edith Tompkins was born in 1903, her family moving to Calverton very soon after. They lived at No.1 Manor Farm Cottages. Edith lived there until 1933, when she married Eric Tompkins and moved the short distance to 56, Calverton Road, Stony Stratford, where she remained until her death in May 1995. Edith was the first person to be interviewed for the Oral History Project and her vivid recollection of Chrystmasse in ye Olden Tyme was only one example of the fascinating glimpses she was able to give of life in Calverton over half a century ago. More of her memories will no doubt be retold in future editions of this Journal.
As you can see, some progress has been made with identifying the people in the photograph. Please add more names to the list if you possibly can and try to think if your memories of the event match those outlined here. The programme belongs to Mrs Ella West. It is wonderful to think that it has survived for 65 years. The photograph was kindly donated to the Records Project by George Cowley.
This little collection illustrates how much of the past can be brought back to life by one person's memories and two such simple things as a theatre programme and a photograph.