Lynchmere Pantomime

About Us

Before WWII, Vicar Tibbs and his wife used to produce a series of Christmas plays in St. Michaels, the church hall in Hammer. There was no proper stage and things were cramped to say the least. It was not practical to continue during the war, but a new start was made in 1946 in the new Hardman Hoyle Memorial Hall with three one act plays, The Princess and the Wood Cutter, The Curate in Charge and Good King Wenceslas. For the next year, 1947, Margaret and Rodney Raggett suggested to Geoffrey Tibbs that we should try a ‘proper’ pantomime, Old King Cole. This was so popular that the next year we adopted the name of The Lynchmereans and put on Aladdin. So, the pantomime has gone on ever since, we did miss one year but this produced howls of protest and so we had to start again, but with slightly different rules for the cast. They now have to live in Lynchmere, Hammer or Camelsdale, attend Camelsdale School or one of our parish churches, St Peter’s or St Paul’s or have connections with the parish.

When we started, our scenery and lighting was very basic, but we have advanced with much more scenery and sophisticated lighting. We are very grateful to all our dedicated band of helpers who look after the scenery, lighting, costumes, child protection and the many activities connected with the front of the house. With cast and helpers, over 100 people are involved in the production every year.

When we celebrated our 60th season in 2007, we wrote to our old boys and girls asking them for reminisences they had of previous pantomimes and of our church youth club, St Peter’s Guild. Many of them have commented how involvement has given them the confidence in later life to stand up in public and address a gathering. Here are some of the highlights:- From the early pantomimes Barbara Fullick (Denyer) and Sheila West (Puttock) remember the famous ‘Bells and Bows and Buttons and Things’, with Rodney Raggett, Pat Dray, Doreen Hoy, Sheila West and Barbara Fullick. Ann Etherington (Potter) was a fairy singing ‘Here we come, lightly tripping and kicking down a tree, she was in our very first Old King Cole’ wearing a white costume made out of parachute silk that became transparent under the lights! One of the features of the early pantomime were Rodney Raggett’s stories.

Tony Caesar says he still remembers many of them. Jim Phillips and John Cesar back stage. –Famous sayings ‘Wear soft shoes’ and the Snake Charmer in Aladdin. ‘Sydney don’t like noise’ Ann Tibbs (Preston) came down from London to watch Hansel and Gretel to be met on the station and told that the fairy was sick, so here was her costume and a fan to hide her words. . She was pushed on to the stage where the baddy was telling the children their awful fate. With script in hand “Too late O evil one, thou art too late”. However, she was pushed on too soon and the audience rose and cried “Too soon O Tibbs thou art too soon’ Confusion reigned.

Jimmy Fulleylove was our pianist 1960 – 1964 and remembers the time that David Dimbleby won a bottle of whisky in the raffle and dropped it. Wendy Robinson (Sutton) recalls her sister, Ann, now our director, being chosen as Alice, perfect for the part with her long hair, but what did she do? Cut it off just before the dress rehearsal and had to wear a wig. Jasmine Cochrane (Young) as the town crier in Dick Whittington, unfolded the scroll, but the words would not came out; Michael Tibbs gave her a prompt from the front row, the words arrived but in the wrong order.

Jane Chester as the good fairy and appeared on the stage wearing the cardigan supposed just to keep her warm in the wings, and as Princess Sadie in Aladdin she felt very unsafe in the Sedan chair, she remembers John Hooker’ indefatigable work behind the wings and scenes and Margaret Raggett and Audrey Creasy down stairs “trying to not to upset them too often” Karen Garret (Brookman), now one of our Directors, was our Cinderella for no 50, but especially remembers her first part as a woodland nymph in Snow White, ‘the pantomime brought fairy tales to life for young children’. Sheila Keens (Helson) has a special memory of barley sugar in the dressing room. Elaine Bicknell ( Hooley) has a vision of John Pullen as a policeman trying to get his notebook out of his pocket.

Hayley Lynch had a special wand, made by her father that sprinkled fairy dust out of the end and Ali Baba’s camel not getting through the wings. Claire Bicknell (Rivers) recalls her first speaking line in the Sleeping Beauty “I am Fairy Rose, the gift of beauty I bestow that you in loveliness may grow’ Also singing another of our hits ‘Puppet on a String.’ Faye Harman says that her first part was Stinker, a rat in Dick Whittington and she is still being called it! Jean Taylor, as well as script writer has had parts ranging from Fattish, one of Casim Baba’s wives to the Cook in Jack and the Beanstalk; she was watching the video afterwards when her husband walked in and exclaimed ‘Who is that old bat, they must be hard up to have people like that’ It shows how effective was the makeup and pillow stuffed down her dress.