Aphra Behn

After Aphra

Still grieving just weeks after Aphra Behn's unexpected death, some of the people who say they loved her most end up in a pub in the wake of another disaster. The play Aphra was writing in her final weeks, “The Widow Ranter”, has been staged and, shockingly, is a flop. But why? The fast moving, witty, spectacular and topical show ought to have been a smash hit. What went wrong? But asking too many questions especially at a time of political upheaval, can have disturbing results.

Clio's Company present “After Aphra" at the Hen & Chickens Theatre, Islington. Tuesday 16th – Saturday 20th October at 7:30pm. Matinee Saturday 20th at 2:30.

Click here for tickets.


Walthamstow Notes – words, music and performance in a place, time and context

A Bassano recorder

We are delighted with the news that we have been awarded a grant by the Heritage Lottery Fund for a new Walthamstow-based project looking at music and performance around three different historical periods and themes.

The Bassano family, having made 1530s Venice too hot to hold them, arrived in Walthamstow by way of the court of Henry VIII. One of the seven brothers bought a house and estate in what is now Walthamstow High Street – and Bassanos were to become part of local life for the next three centuries. In their time Walthamstow was a collection of villages, favoured by rich Londoners as an easily accessible retreat in rural peace and healthier air. As well as writing and playing music, the family were instrument makers – many of their recorders are still playable: this one turned up in a street market a few years ago.

J F H Read, a leading citizen of the nineteenth century, was one of the first generation of rail commuter. Good at making money on the stock exchange, Read spent three separate fortunes on writing, playing and sharing music with the local community. His home of many years, The Chestnuts, is one of two survivors of the many mansions that once lined Walthamstow;s Hoe Street; the Art Deco former Granada cinema now occupies the site of the concert hall that Read built.

By the 1960s Walthamstow was unarguably part of London. It was home to many aspiring young musicians – most were content to play in their leisure time; a few, such as the band Iron Maiden, were to become famous. And as well as those who made the music, many thousands danced to it, bought tickets for it and played the records.

Over the next two years we will be researching, working with local children, providing training for volunteers and staging a series of events and exhibitions to share what we have all found out and created. East London Radio will be broadcasting some of the events, which will also be added to the Queen’s Road Stories website,

Rehearsed Reading of The Widow Ranter

The Widow Ranter

Aphra Behn was the first woman to earn her living as a professional playwright; she survived the ferocious world of the Restoration theatre, and some of her plays went on being staged for many years after her death. One, though, “The Widow Ranter”, has been unfairly overlooked, and is about to be staged for the first time in four centuries. A tragi-comic tale based on real events in 1670s Virginia, it features satire, romance and cross-dressing. Clio’s Company are working in partnership with the “Editing Aphra Behn in the Digital Age” project on this project.


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

Ultima Britannia

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 2017 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.


Lundenwic: Saxon London's dark lands

In the spring we staged our latest programme at All Hallows by the Tower – a new version of "Lundenwic – Saxon London’s Dark Lands” involved a new storyline, poetry, music and a mystery. Nearly 500 children and teachers took part.


Watercress beds to one-way streets: 120 years of a north London neighbourhood

Blue Plaque

We were awarded a grant by the Heritage Lottery Fund for an exciting new Walthamstow-based project over the last two years. It was a new venture for the company, and involved several strands. The focus of the work is the development over the past twelve decades of the Queen’s Road area, and local people were involved in recording oral histories and researching the stories of houses and of individuals. Children from Edinburgh Primary School also worked with us to devise a series of installations and a performance retelling some of those stories. The project included some much-needed new planting for Queen’s Road cemetery, which has been in existence since 1872 - some of the memorials there provided both a starting point and inspiration for both further research and imagined stories. For further information please email us.

Coe map of Walthamstow

An underground stream, “the best bread in England”, a gold and marble tomb and hundreds of untold stories

Our website for the project, is now live. There are maps of the area showing how it has changed from meadows, watercress beds and orchards to the vibrant city area of today. And there are pictures and stories of some of its people and places. We will be adding to the site in the coming months, and would be delighted to receive feedback and more information.

Over the past few weeks a number of local people have been in touch to share more photographs and stories.

Here is a photograph of the 1949 outing to Margate, provided by Garner’s, a Walthamstow garment manufacturer for all their staff as a summer treat. Courtesy of Eileen Rance, (née Dyson), who worked in the cutting room and is pictured seventh from the left in the back row

Queens Road Stories    
In the archive at the Vestry House Museum, Walthamstow

Queens Road Stories at the Vestry House Museum

Around fifty people listened to story telling, saw the project exhibition and pages from the website and had tea and cake at our event in March. Vestry House Museum kindly hosted this, and arranged a special opening of and exhibition in their search room, which was formerly the women’s dormitory of Walthamstow’s workhouse. So visitors were able to see some of the maps, letters and minute books which have helped provide the information we have used during the project.


Costumes for children, resources for teachers: help needed

Girl in Tudor Costume

20,0000 children – enough to fill the Albert Hall four times. That’s how many have taken part in our interactive theatre project at All Hallows by the Tower so far. And that’s without counting the teachers. We know our work there makes a difference – and now we want to make our programmes even better. We need to upgrade our handling collection of items such as musical instruments for workshops, to provide more resources for teachers, to create costumes for children, and to upgrade those for adults. In order to do all this we need to raise some £3,000.

So we are asking for help from our friends. And in return we will offer some wonderful Tudor related perks – an elegant green pen with Anne Boleyn’s signature to anyone who gives £10; a superb hand-made silk sweet bag for donors of £50; and an exquisite linen shirt or smock to say thank you for a donation of £200.

To donate, please follow the link to our Givey account

And please email us on to claim your perk.  

Lord Mayor's Show

Clio goes to the Lord Mayor’s Show

Tudor coronations were spectacular public events lasting several days, costing the equivalent of several million pounds and featuring street theatre and music as well as a spectacular procession. We were chosen as one of three organisations to receive funding to take part in the 2013 Lord Mayor’s Show, and used the coronation of Queen Anne Boleyn as the inspiration for our float. This featured Anne Boleyn’s badge of a crowned white falcon, musicians, masked figures and dancers as well as over 50 Tower Hamlets school children.

Even though the day of the Show proved to be among the wettest and coldest on record, everyone concerned remained enthusiastic and stoical, and took part in the first performance for five centuries of “The White Falcon”. This song was among those specially written for Anne Boleyn’s coronation, and the words lay forgotten for many years, and with the help of Tamsin Lewis we were able to reunite lyrics with music.

The words and music are now available in book form, with an introduction written by Lissa Chapman and Jay Venn, from Rondo Publishing

You can listen to us being interviewed about the project on Radio 4's The World Tonight. Click here for the link to the BBC - the interview begins at 34:40.

Cass Statue

Early Georgian politics go live

Cass Cartoon  

Clio’s Company’s long-standing partnership with Sir John Cass’s Foundation Primary School has branched out into cyberspace as we work with the school (and Lighthouse London, our website design partners for the project) on a web application designed to bring the past, present and future of the school together. While the site is planned especially for, and in consultation with, the children of the school, it also casts new light on Georgian City politics and provides a vivid and sometimes poignant narrative of the lives of inner London children in past centuries.


Performance Finale

Railways, canals, boats and a tidal mill

The House Mill at Bromley by Bow is an eighteenth century tidal mill, a complete and unique survival of London’s industrial heritage. We have known, loved and based projects there over many years. A pilot project in 2013 looked at the East London story in 1848, when the railways were revolutionising all aspects of life and there was conflict between the cultures of water and of rail.

We would like to work here in the future with more local children

The Ancient House    

Food and music for a Tudor summer evening

Walthamstow’s mediaeval house, once the local manor and now known as the Ancient House, was the location for a 1540-style celebration on Sunday 2nd June. A banquet was originally a separate course of treat food for favoured guests, such as the ones attending this event, who also heard music of the time and had a rare chance to explore the Ancient House and discover something of its five centuries of history.

Hackney Georgians

Common Ground: Hackney Georgians

In May 2013 we expanded our Common Ground: Hackney Tudors project to include a new century – the 18th.

This involved working with a group of local primary school children to bring to life the Hackney of the 1790s. These were years of rapid change, as the new technology of the canal age brought new prosperity, the French revolution brought refugees to an area already famous for its community of free thinkers and radicals, and a hugely increased population brought the need for new building.

Children’s work from previous stages of this project can be seen at:


Rehearsed Readings

Clio’s Company stage an occasional series of rehearsed reading of plays that were smash hits in their day, but which have been long forgotten. We aim to discover whether their obscurity is deserved, or whether these are shows that would appeal to a modern audience. The readings take place at various locations around London, including Sutton House, Dr Johnson’s House and All Hallows by the Tower – please email for details of the next one.


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