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1931: Loud and sustained applause for W.I. Pageant at The Queen's Hall

Mid Sussex Times - Tuesday 22 December 1931


Christmas Pageant Produced by Mrs. W. A. Pinder.

Good entertainment is always a feature of the annual Christmas “social” held in connection with the Cuckfield Women's Institute, and this year’s function, held in the Queen’s Hall last Tuesday evening, was enjoyed by a company of three hundred members and friends.

The Institute colours of red and green were prominent in the seasonable decorations, and the greater part of the programme was in keeping with the spirit of Christmas.

The Queen's Hall 2022

Miss Dorothy Winder's first official task since she was elected President on the previous Wednesday was to welcome the members and their friends to the “social” and she herself was enthusiastically applauded as she appeared before the curtains. She expressed the hope that all would have a pleasurable evening, as the Committee had done their best make it so. In conclusion, she wished the company, and also the members who were absent, happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year.

The programme opened with a song by Miss Frances Mitchell, entitled "The Song of the Clock.” As the vocalist rendered it the passing of time was illustrated on the stage. Ruth Gibbs appeared as infant in bed during the first verse, in the second Ruth Gibbs and Cyril Pike were shown as the lovers, and in the final verse Mrs. F. T. Gibbs represented an old lady. It was a picturesque rendering of the popular song, and in response to the applause Miss Mitchell sweetly sang “Dream-o’day Jill.” Mrs. C. Green, of Anstye, followed with two appreciated recitations, “The Inventor's Wife” and “A Fly in Church.” I both being of humorous character. The next item was preceded by


the President who welcomed Mrs. W. A. Pinder for the first time as a producer in connection with the Institute. Miss Winder stated that the company were to witness a “A Christmas Pageant.” which had been entirely written and produced by Mrs. Pinder with the exception of one scene from Dickens' “Christmas Carol,” this being an adaptation the Rev. R. Clough. In giving a short synopsis, the speaker explained that the pageant began and ended with the Nativity scene, the idea being to show that after nearly two thousand years the story of Christmas is still as full of life as in the past. There were six scenes, and these were linked together by short' episodes in front of the curtain, some of them bearing relation to, and all of them being the same period, as the scene which followed.


was the subject of the first episode and scene, the presentation of gifts by the kings and the adoration of the shepherds in the lowly manger at Bethlehem providing a beautiful picture. An episode illustrating the carol, “Good King Wenceslas,” was followed by a scene depicting a medieval Christmas feast in progress, this including the bringing in of the boar's head and the Yule log. The audience then had a good laugh at the four “Waits," who supplied a popular episode before the third scene from Dickens’ Christmas Carol." showing the Cratchit family at their Christmas dinner. Coming to more modern days, an amusing episode illustrated the bus rush during Christmas shopping, followed by a scene of the interior of a busy store, where a fussy customer provided more humour, which changed to pathos with a flowergirl episode and a London slum scene on Christmas Eve. In a garret, dimly lighted by a candle, sat a woman and her young children shivering with cold. A grown-up daughter arrived with the news that she had lost her job.


were heard, and the drawn faces of the occupants brightened up the daughter said "It doesn't matter how miserable it is, there is always something kind of cheerful about Christmas." “Christmas Eve, 1931,” was the title of the final episode and scene. The former showed six fashionably attired young ladies, wearing carnival hats, returning from a party. They saw a moving star, and decided to follow it. They were led to the manger, and the scene showed them adoring the new-born Christ as the kings and shepherds did nearly two thousand years ago.

Upwards of fifty members of the Institute and friends took part in the pageant. They were Mrs. Botting. Mrs. Hall, Miss Hall. Mrs. Cook. Mrs. Farr. Miss Grant-Gordon, Mrs. Eyre, Mrs Baly, Miss Dales. Miss Mitchell. Mrs. Rapley, Mrs. Humphrey, Mrs. H. Askew, Mrs. Fuller, Mrs. Runkel, Mrs. L. Napper, Mrs. Blake, Miss Finder, Miss Tribe, Miss Winder, Miss D. Tidey, Mrs. Diplock, Miss Madge Morgan, Mrs. Harris, Mrs. Martin, Miss Hoath. Mrs. Quickenden, Miss Foster, Miss A. Grant, Miss Whitford. Miss Stewart, Miss I. Stride, Mrs. Boniface, Miss Homewood, Mrs. Hobbs, Miss Apps, Miss D. Reid. Miss D. Turner, Miss Bartlett, Mrs. Shaw, Mrs. Towse, Miss R. Winder, Miss V. Leake, Mrs. W. A. Finder, the Rev. R. Clough, Messrs. L. Askew, H. Askew, St. J. Bell, J. Finder, L. Napper and Master Keith Rapley.

The singing of appropriate carols during the scenes by


with Mrs. G. K. Glenister at the piano, the beautiful dresses, and the coloured lighting effects, arranged by Messrs. W. A. Finder, Geoffrey Hounsell, A. Legge and C. Carter, added greatly to the success and effectiveness of the pageant. Valuable help behind the scenes was given by Miss D. Winder, Miss Gibb, Mr. and Mrs. Arman. Messrs. A. T. Rapley, L. Napper and A. Morgan.

What the audience thought of the pageant was shown by their loud and sustained applause when Mrs. Finder was called before the curtain. On behalf of the performers she was presented with a plant and a box of chocolates by Madge Morgan and Keith Rapley, and in thanking everybody Mrs. Finder said the performers and those who had worked behind the scenes had all been marvellous. Mrs. Pinder received many individual congratulations later in the evening, and nobody was better pleased than her father and mother. Canon and Mrs. Wilson.

Light refreshments were served by Mrs. Avery, and the remainder of the evening was devoted to dancing, for which music was provided by Swaysland’s Band from Haywards Heath. A fancy dress parade was held in a short interval, the costumes being judged by Mrs. Grant-Gordon and Mrs. Mote. Prizes were awarded to the Rev. R. Clough (Mr. Cratchit), Mrs. Martin (Newsboy), Miss Tribe (Watteau Lady) and Mrs. Rapley (Piccadilly Flower Girl).


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