1932 Chrystmasse in ye Olden Tyme


Preparation and Programme

In 1932 the entire village got together to create a Christmas play called Chrystmasse in ye Olden Tyme. The play was produced by the Rev. Ravenscroft, then rector of Calverton, and Aelwyn Williams who was the son of Lord Penhryn’s estate manager.  The programme had to be decided upon and printing arranged. Costumes had to be improvised, made or hired and various props had to be found. On top of all this, lines had to be learned and rehearsals attended. Overall it was a major undertaking.

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The front cover and inside pages of the original printed paper programme belonged to Mrs Ella West. It is wonderful to think that it has survived for over 80 years.

Calverton School

The Old School house where the play was performed. The large window on the right is seen from the inside behind the assembled cast in the photograph below.

The Performance

The play was performed over three nights in December 1932 at Calverton School.

It concerned a party in a rich man’s house, to which all sorts of people were invited. It was apparently an old Devon play.


Edith Miller as Mrs Kate Ripple

Edith Tompkins, then Edith Miller, was a key participant. She played the part of Mrs Kate Ripple, the hostess. She can still remember the exact words with which she welcomed the village children to the party. She said:

“Welcome sweet children
I love your merry song
To the long past ages do the
strains belong.

Have a bun.”

She also remembers wearing a costume which was way too large for her, so that it had to be stuffed with tissue paper which rustled as she walked.

The cast

The photograph of the whole cast was taken after the last night performance, which was on a Saturday evening. The rector had said that there could be a party in the School House after the play, but that it must end on the dot of midnight so that it didn’t run over into Sunday, which would not have been fitting.

Edith can remember being very fed up at having to wait around while the photograph was being taken, as she felt that it was wasting good dancing time.

Cast of Chrystmasse in ye Olden Tyme

Indexed photograph of the entire cast taken by Thornycrofts after the final performance on Saturday 19th December 1932.

As you can see below, some progress has been made with identifying the people in the photograph.

Other players included Bert Wright and Les Leonard  as remembered by Joan Newman who’s father Sid played the role of the Chef.  Joan was only eight at the time but recalls “Dad was the chef in the middle of the back row and I can remember him walking proudly on to the stage carrying the boar’s head on a big plate. I was very impressed by it all”

Please add more names to the list if you possibly can and try to think if your memories of the event match those outlined here.

  • 1 George Cowley (Villager)
  • 2 Lil Dunkley
  • 3
  • 4 Gladys Goodyer (Maid Cecily)
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7 Rev. Ravenscroft (Father Christmas)
  • 8 Gwen Underwood ? (Molly Oakden)
  • 9
  • 10
  • 11 Aelwyn Wiliams
  • 12 Sid Tomkins
  • 13
  • 14
  • 15 Jimmy Tompkins (?)
  • 16
  • 17 Eva Tomkins (Dorothy Marigold)
  • 18
  • 19 Jim Tompkins (?)
  • 20
  • 21
  • 22
  • 23
  • 24
  • 25 Thurke ?
  • 26 Roberts ?
  • 27
  • 28
  • 29
  • 30 Harold West (Squire Ripple)
  • 31 Stan Goss (The Jester)
  • 32 Edith Miller (Kate Ripple)
  • 33 R. Wright
  • 34 Marjorie Goodyer
  • 35
  • 36 Doug Higgs
  • 37 Bert Wright (Turkish Knight)
  • 38 Les Leonard (Beelzebub)
  • 39 Tom Moore (Oliver Cromwell)
  • 40

Biographical notes:

Edie Tompkins at home  (56 Calverton Road) in 1995

Edie Tompkins at home (56 Calverton Road) in 1995

Edith Miller was born in 1903, her family moving to Calverton very soon after. They lived at No.1 Manor Farm Cottages. Edith lived there until 1933, when she married Eric Tompkins and moved the short distance to 56, Calverton Road, Stony Stratford, where she remained until her death in May 1995.

Edith was the first person to be interviewed for the Oral History Project and her vivid recollection of Chrystmasse in ye Olden Tyme was only one example of the fascinating glimpses she was able to give of life in Calverton well over half a century ago.

The original programme belonged to Mrs Ella West who played the part of one of Margery Ripple’s friends.