VFlowers and poems at The Chestnuts

Walthamstow Notes

On 30th March over 320 people sang, played, walked, talked or simply listened at a series of activities in three Walthamstow locations. The day showcased what we have achieved in the second phase of the Walthamstow Notes project, focusing on local music in the later nineteenth century.

Vestry House Museum performance

In a time when all music was live, we had found out much about who wrote it, who played, sang, listened and set the agenda. We also made many discoveries about what part music played in social and political life. Most notably, we found out the crucial role music played in the constant charitable fundraising that provided everything from medicine to children’s boots at a time long before the NHS and when the benefits system consisted of the workhouse.

Children from three local schools took part in a devised musical at Vestry House Museum, and young players and composers gave a concert at the newly restored St Saviour’s Church.

The Chestnuts, a rare survivor of what were once many Georgian mansions, was once home to composer and philanthropist J F H Read – on Saturday it hosted an installation including children’s work and responses to their visits there. Read’s music provided the inspiration for work by the young composers, and the evening at St Saviour’s ended with a performance of one of his pieces for the organ.

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Hearth Fires and High Halls

Hearth Fires and High Halls

The latest production at All Hallows takes the story of Saxon London further on in time. Nearly five hundred children took part, encountering questions and characters including a monk who wants to tear down the old Roman house, not only to expand the tiny church of All Hallows but to rebuild the wooden St Paul’s Cathedral in stone; an idealistic young woman is equally determined that not only the house, but Roman rule, should be restored. Children become caught up in the story which is told in music and poetry of the time as well as dialogue.

After Aphra and The Widow Ranter

Will Birch in After Aphra

“After Aphra” is a new look at the story of Aphra Behn and her final play, “The Widow Ranter”. We wrote and staged it in two locations in 2018 – the Hen and Chickens Theatre in Islington and, thanks to the generosity of the Company of Watermen and LIghtermen, the wonderful surroundings of their 1700 Court Room.

The play is set as “The Widow Ranter” is staged for its first and only run in the aftermath of its author’s death, and looks at Behn’s own life story as well as incorporating sections of the play and its music, using an actor and a musician of the day as two of the three characters, while the third, a former indentured servant who has returned to London with the fortune he made in Virginia, is based on the stories of real people of the time.

We plan to revisit “After Aphra” next year as well as working towards a full production of “The Widow Ranter” to tie in with the 350th anniversary in 2021 of the staging of Aphra Behn’s first play.

Ultima Britannia

Continuing City: Arts in Education at All Hallows by the Tower

All Hallows by the Tower has been part of the City of London landscape for thirteen hundred years, and people have lived and worked there for far longer. Clio’s Company and the community of All Hallows have been working together since 2001 on a series of arts in education projects, some also involving the Company of Watermen and Lightermen. In the current series, we use a combination of known historical and imagined but possible events to stage a series of site-specific plays and complementary workshops for primary school children to bring to life the rich and complex history of the church in its context.

In November 2018 London primary school children took part in “Ultima Britannia”, a project focusing on London 2,000 years ago when it was a raw, new, dangerous town on the edge of the known world and All Hallows was a building site where a Roman villa was being constructed.


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For further information on any of these projects and events, please contact us by email.