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The Warp

Village Hall Concert

The creaky stage of black wooden Eye Village Hall was the place to hear live music.

I remember a neighbour performing ‘Burlington Bertie from Bow’ wearing morning dress and spats.

It wasn’t all burlesque. My father, who at one time had trained as an opera singer, gave a memorable performance of the Italian love song ‘O Sole Mio!’ which was more in earnest than not.

On this village hall jangly piano I gave my first public performance, Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. Here too, in this same village hall, my mother put on plays with the ‘Eye Players’, drawn from the ranks of the local Womens Institute and their husbands.

‘Mrs Sandford organised a drama group at Eye,’ Roy Conod recalls. ‘We put on a play about the Brothers Grimm. We brothers played as the two brothers, our Aunt Nora played our Aunt, and her daughter Mary played our cousin.

‘We did all sorts of plays, I recall Mr Sandford as Scrooge in the Christmas Carol, and I was Tiny Tim!

‘We also did the Chester Cycle of Miracle plays, and Noah’s Ark. Mr Sandford made the Ark, and in doing so, he fell and broke his arm. Mrs Sandford wouldn’t let him get away with not appearing in the play, although he was in agony.

‘The plays were performed in Eye village hall, but were then taken to Hereford. We also did plays at many other village halls in the locality, as fund raisers for charity.

‘There were beautiful large gardens at the manor. When the Sandfords arrived they were wealthy and could afford maids and gardeners.

‘They always took part in village life.

‘We did see a sort of decline in the manor house and the Sandford family. In so much as 3 maids became 2 maids, 2 maids became 1 maid, 3 gardeners became 2, to 1 gardener.

‘They had two Jaguar cars, the one car went, and the other became a bit decrepit.

‘Mrs Sandford used to hold courses in which she taught people to make corn dollies. The pupils would sleep at our place and dine at the manor. They used to say that Mr Sandford would sit at the top of the table, with a bottle of whisky on the floor by his foot! It was terribly cold at the manor, so people would eat in their coats, yet Mr Sandford didn’t seem to notice the cold, the whisky would keep him warm.’


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