The Story of Heyford (Extra): The Pantomime

Nether Heyford’s Tradition of Pantomime – November 1995

As we approach pantomime season it is worth reminding ourselves that there has been a pantomime in Nether Heyford almost every year since 1969.

The article below written by Joan Juland (November 1995) gives us an insight into the enjoyment given by the Monday Club pantomime to both the audience and performers.

This year, as usual, the Heyford Players continue the tradition with ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” – Performances will be: 7.30 pm on Friday 26th January, and at 2.30 pm and 7.30 pm on Saturday 27th.  

The Monday Club pantomimes began in a small way, but grew and grew, and still continue now under the Heyford Players. They started as an alternative to a Christmas party, and were put on in December” mainly because we wanted the worry of it out of the way before settling down to arranging the family Christmas, later they were presented in January so that the main rehearsals were done in the quiet time after New Year. The list to date reads thus:  

  • 1969 Red Riding Hood
  • 1970 Goldilocks and the Three Bears
  • 1971 Jack and the Beanstalk 
  • 1972 Cinderella
  • 1973 Sleeping Beauty
  • 1974 Dick Whittington
  • 1975 Hey Diddle Diddle
  • 1976 Aladdin
  • 1978 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
  • 1980 Beauty and the Beast
  • 1981 Mother Goose in Space
  • 1982 Alice in the Underworld
  • 1983 Robinson Crusoe
  • 1984 Snow White
  • 1985 Old King Cole
  • 1986 Jack The Giant Killer
  • 1987 Cinderella
  • 1988 Robin Hood and the Babes in the Wood
  • 1989 Aladdin
  • 1990 Peter Pan and the Magic Snowman  

At this point the Monday Club decided to finish doing Pantomimes mainly because our membership numbers had fallen so much that we had many more ‘co-opted‘ members purely to take part in the Pantomime than we had members.   

The Heyford Players were then formed and they have continued the tradition ever since with the following:  

  • 1991 Dick Whittington
  • 1992 The Adventures of Alice
  • 1993 Sleeping Beauty and the Beast 
  • 1994 Ali Babe and the Forty Thieves
  • 1995 Mother Goose  

Many names that appear in the programmes for the early shows have sadly passed on, such as Reg Collins, who always enjoyed having a laugh and causing a laugh even if it wasn’t in the script. Molly Dawson who also helped with costumes in the early days, and Mike Wallis who was one of our ‘Ugly Sisters’. Many people who have since moved away, some as far as the USA namely Anne & John Martin who both took part in our events. Bev Sewell, Pam & Glyn Bowen, Suzanne Brett, Gwenda Benstead, Angela Dixon, Sheena Harland and Jeanette Purcell are names that spring to mind but I know there were many others that you will remember, not least of all Tim Short who played a memorable Dame on many occasions and I understand still does so!  

We had some ‘accidents’ during our performances that the audiences did not always know about, such as the camp bed that collapsed in Goldilocks when Dave Norrie sat on it and the Aspidestra that was dropped from a great height during a scene change and had to be hurriedly swept up, that was in our first Cinderella .

The lines of a song that Gordon Hayes had difficulty remembering so he wrote them on the back of the beam, and then couldn’t read them because of the lighting, but his wife helped him out from the audience, Kathleen had heard them so often at home she was word perfect .

Do you remember our Growing Beanstalk in Jack and the Beanstalk, and the wonderful wigs in Cinderella as well as the ballgowns. The water fountain in Dick Whittington, which Dick didn’t expect to work, but it had been rigged.

We also had our chorous girls a group of girls mostly the daughters of the cast who sang and danced as fairies or soldiers etc.

We have also had a variety of changing arrangements, for the early performances we had the green curtains pulled round the kitchen corner and had to do everything in there — boys & girls together all very friendly The cast would run down the outside of the hall round the old boiler house that used to jut out, right round to the front of the building and in through the front emergency exit which was curtained off – you can imagine how cold it was on some December nights! We also had to be very quiet, especially on Saturday afternoons when all the children were there and were very inquisitive!

We then had the comfort of the football portacabin, which also meant running through all weathers into the emergency exit. That too was all very well when they were playing away, occasionally they were at home and then we used the Baptist schoolroom — an even longer run through rain and snow!

As many of you will know we were always well supplied in the changing rooms with ‘Dutch Courage’; Sometimes it was tea or coffee, but mostly it was a little stronger, it was the only way we could get some of our cast on stage!!

We tried not to leave out the most important member of the whole show that of the pianist, who was for many years Mrs Marjorie Rogers, The first couple of shows I believe were done by Mrs Betty Sillence, and latterly by David Farmer.

A few weeks after the show we always had an excuse for a party to hold an inquest on the performance and to vow that we wouldn’t do it next year, but we nearly always did and thoroughly enjoyed it for my part for fifteen years.

I was always greatly indebted to my typist who would read my long hand scribbled scripts and make sense of them, often as many as 22 pages, also of course the scenery painters and constructors, props and sound effects which always turned up in time for the performance even if they weren’t thought of until dress rehearsal!

Of course one of the highlights of the day for the children in the early years was the arrival of Father Christmas and the gifts that he brought them.

Joan Juland

Published in The Prattler – November 1995

Newspaper Cutting – Mother Goose 1995
Hey Diddle Diddle 1975
Hey Diddle Diddle 1975 – Cast
Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs 1978
Beauty and the Beast 1980 – Jeanette Purcell, Pauline Thackray, Chris Metcalfe, Marion Williamson
Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs 1984
Cinderella 1987

Nether Heyford’s Tradition of Pantomime – Continued…..December 2020

The Pantomimes continued…….

  • 1996 Snow White
  • 1997 Cinderella
  • 1998 Aladdin
  • 1999 Babes in the Wood
  • 2000 The Emperors New Clothes
  • 2001 Jack and the Beanstalk
  • 2002 Dick Whittington
  • 2003 Peter Pan
  • 2004 Cinderella
  • 2005 Snow White in the Palace

Thanks to Sheryl Scarrott and Pauline Thackray – December 2020

The Story of Heyford: Heyford’s Bakeries V1C4

There has presumably been baking in Heyford ever since there has been a settlement here. Both Heyford and Heyford Mill are mentioned in the Domesday Book, and the proximity of the mill meant that there was always a local source of flour.

There are several records of baking in the village during the 1700’s and 1800’s:
– The Militia list of 1777 mentions Henry Burch and Robert Burch as Bakers.
– The 1841 Census lists John James, Joseph Claridge and John Cole.
– The Kelly’s directories in the 1800’s show several bakers:

  • Mrs Margaret Jones, baker and shopkeeper, 1854
  • William Claridge, baker and retailer, 1864
  • Isaac Woodhams, baker, 1864, 1869, 1877, 1885, 1890
  • Charles Smith, 1869
  • Daniel Roe, 1877

Until the first world war the building on the corner of Furnace Lane and Weedon Road (now Tops the hairdressers) was the Bakers Arms pub, so called because the landlord Mr Pinnock had a small oven for baking bread. A small oven was also discovered in the old post office building when it was demolished in the early 1950’s.

The Faulkner family 
But from the 1890’s to the 1940’s most of the village’s baking was done by Thomas Faulkner and his family. He had two sons, Walter and Wesley, and five daughters. Much of the following information came from his great grandson Dennis Clarke.

The Faulkner family ran two bakehouses. The first was in the red brick house (now number 19 Church Street) owned by Thomas Faulkner. He ran it with his son-in-law, Fred Furniss. They were from staunch Methodist families well respected in the village. They didn’t drink or smoke. Thomas Faulkner was for many years a lay preacher at the Methodist chapel, and was also the first chairman of the Parish Council.

Then some time during the first world war he established a second bakehouse with a larger oven in the building which is now number 22 Furnace Lane. One of the reasons for needing a larger bakehouse was that he supplied bread to the Weedon Barracks. It was run by his son Wesley. This became the main bakery in the village and was active for more than 30 years. His other son Walter had a bakery in Northampton.

The flour room was upstairs and the flour was fed down to the bakery via a chute. The dough was made up the night before, kneaded into loaves, laid in tins and allowed to rise. The oven was lit between three and four in the morning with faggots of wood. When it was the right temperature, the ashes were removed and the bread put in. The oven, which was well insulated, kept warm for several hours, but even so it was an inaccurate science and it wasn’t unusual for a loaf of bread to be not quite cooked in the middle.

Sunday roasts
Although the oven was used mainly for baking bread, it was also used on Sundays to cook the roasts. The villagers would bring their joints and Yorkshire puddings to be cooked while they were at church or chapel. You would put the joint on a trivet in a baking tray with the yorkshire pudding mix underneath. The fat from the meat dropped into the yorkshire pudding mix as it cooked.  Wesley Faulkner charged 2d for this service. Bill Kingston remembers sitting on the flour bin waiting for the joint to cook. Sometimes it was difficult to recognise your own joint. Mrs Dorothy Kingston remembers as a girl picking up their joint on one occasion only to be tld by her mother when she got home that it was somebody else’s! When the joints came out, the cakes went in.

The bakehouse in Furnace Lane also had a little shop which sold not just bread and cakes, but also sweets and cigarettes. In the back yard they kept pigs and chickens as most people did. Outside the back door was a well and a handpump which is still there today. They also kept a pony and trap which Wesley used for making deliveries in the evenings to Stowe, Farthingstone and Litchborough, often not returning until late in the evening. The pony and trap were later replaced by a motorised van.

Wesley Faulkner pictured with his delivery van in the 1930’s

NetherHeyfordBakehouse

Photo lent by Dennis Clarke

Changing times
The bakehouse continued to run until around 1945. However, by this time larger bakeries were being established in town and cheaper mass-produced bread and cakes were becoming readily available through the other village shops.

For some years after this, bread was delivered to the Village by ‘Cooey’ Faulkner, the ‘Midnight Baker’. He was Ruskin, the son of Walter who had a bakery in Abington Avenue in Northampton.  He got his nickname because he delivered bread, often late in the evening and announced his presence by calling “Cooey!” Some people left baskets hanging outside their houses for him to leave the bread if he was very late. Part of the reason for his lateness was that he was always read to accept a cup of tea if offered one! Today the house is occupied by Dennis Clarke,a great nephew of Fred Furniss, and great grandson of Thomas Faulkner. The oven, though no longer used is still in place.

From the 1940’s until the 1980’s no bread baking took place in the village. We had moved into times of mass—production and faster road systems, so most of the bread came from large bakeries outside the village. The installation of gas, and then electricity meant that most families the 1950’s had small ovens in their own modernised kitchen.

The Bake-house in Furnace Lane

NetherHeyfordBakehouse_FurnaceLane

Photo lent by Judy Armitage

This photograph looks towards the bottom of Furnace Lane and shows the old bake-house on the left hand side. To the left of this on the far left hand side of the picture is the building previously used as the King William pub. You can see here the frame which held the pub sign. Opposite the end of Furnace Lane you can see the little building which was the original Methodist chapel built in 1838 with the plaque above the upstairs windows. To the right of this is the old thatched post office, demolished in the 1950s, and to the left is the thatched cottage occupied by Mrs Anne Clarke, Heyford’s midwife for many years, which was demolished in 1969.

Heyford Patisserie
In 1985 the Heyford Patisserie was opened next to the butchers. The business had been started two years earlier by Wendy Allen who began baking at home. Her first order was from Carol at the Olde Sun to produce pies for bar meals. Then word got around, the number of customers grew, and the business became too big to run from home. At around that time, Malcolm Tarbox (the butcher) acquired the buildings in that block. The old slaughterhouse at the end of the block was renovated and converted into the present patisserie building. On 3rd November 1985 Wendy moved into her new patisserie which gave her not only much better baking facilities, but also a retail outlet. So began a service which was much needed in a village which had doubled in size since the 1950s. Although the bread came from Tees Bakery in Grafton Street, Northampton, all the pies, quiches, and puddings were baked on the premises.

Then after 11 years of long hours, six days a Week, Wendy decided to retire and the business was taken over in 1996 by Lesley Parker who continues to run it in the same way today.

Stephen Ferneyhough

~~

Extract from “The Story of Heyford” – Local book series published in the late 1990’s

Volume 1 of 4 | Chapter 4 of 13 | Pages 9,10 & 11

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