Last week’s audience in Dovery Manor Museum, Porlock, were welcomed with wine and canapés in the Great Hall before gathering in the museum’s atmospheric solar, amidst photographs and reminders of WW1. They were there to pay tribute to the young men of Porlock who so bravely set off to fight for King and Country and to bear witness to the hardships and sorrows endured by those they left behind and who kept the home fires burning.
Bill Ball welcomed everyone before Tony Richards set the scene of Porlock in the latter years of the Great War. The acclaimed Museum Players then enacted scenes to tell the stories of local men who served and survived the war, including Edward Steele, James Blackmore, Harry Rawle and Oliver Chadwyck Healey.
Penny Kelham and Chris de Vere Hunt combined forces to great effect discussing their loved ones with tenderness and humour as they tackled piles of mending and had the audience laughing with their reactions to the Baroness, perceptively played by Christine Greenwood.
Nigel Greenwood made a fine Sir Charles Chadwyck Healey, John Thorne entertained with his son Oliver Chadwyck Healey’s story and Sophie de Vere Hunt, making her debut with the Museum Players, told Elizabeth Chadwyck Healey’s story with empathy and skill. Mark Palmer mused on the introduction of tanks and airplanes into the battlefield. Interspersed were poems from Wilfred Owen, Edward Thomas and William Henry Ogilvie sensitively and sympathetically read by Stephanie Blake.
Chris de Vere Hunt and Bill Ball, accompanied by Stephanie Blake, provided a rousing musical interlude featuring a delightful medley of songs from the period with enthusiastic participation by the audience. The haunting strains of Stephanie’s flute then set the scene for Christine Greenwood’s moving reading of John McCrae’s ‘In Flanders Fields’ and Chris, Bill and Stephanie’s beautifully poignant rendition of Jacobson and Emerson’s song of the same poem.
Tony Richards read the names of the 24 young men of Porlock who did not return to their families, their friends or their village. Stephanie then commemorated the war dead with The Last Post, before Bill Ball concluded the heart-warming stories of the young men who returned to Porlock after the war.
The evening’s entertainment was brought to a close as everyone was encouraged to depart in good spirits with a fine rendition of ‘Keep the Home Fires Burning’.
The audience and cast then exchanged reminiscences over coffee and chocolates, ably provided by Fiona Plumstead.
The drama was directed by Lita Strampp. The stories, information and poetry were collected, compiled and written by Lita Strampp with contributions from Chris de Vere Hunt and Penny Kelham. The costumes created by Marjorie Steeds.
The evening concluded the museum’s two year tribute to the Porlock men who fought in the Great War and those who kept the home fires burning in Porlock and welcomed back those who returned.
Bill Ball, Mark Palmer, Tony Richards, Nigel Greenwood, Sophie de Vere Hunt, Christine Greenwood, Lita Strampp (Director) Stephanie Blake, Chris de Vere Hunt, Penny Kelham.
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Registered Charity Number 1079760
Keep the Home Fires Burning
Dovery Manor Museum, Doverhay, Porlock, Somerset, TA24 8QB. United Kingdom