MURAL CELEBRATION

Woodgreen Village Hall was the setting for a very special tea party on Sunday, June 30th.  This year sees the 80th anniversary of the completion of the unique murals which were painted over a period of a year in 1932/33.

Amongst the gathering of eighty people, we were delighted to welcome Sir Edward Hulse - whose Grandfather - Sir Hamilton Hulse - had donated the land for the building of the village hall.  Two special guests were Caroline Swash - the daughter of Edward Payne, and Suzie Newton - the Granddaughter of Robert Baker - the two artists who lived in the village whilst they were depicting village life in the now famous murals.

Our star guests, however, were four ladies from the surviving six of the original subjects : Kathleen Newman (Parker), Irene Anton (Crook) and Nell Weeks (Brewer) from the Methodist Chapel Sunday School scene and Doreen Alford (Clayton) who is the baby in the arms of the nurse in the Salisbury Infirmary Christmas scene. Two of the other ‘children’ from the Sunday School mural were unable to attend - Ruby Gilbert - who lives in Canada and Dorothy Hobbs, who is too frail to travel. Ruby’s sister, Freda (Parker) and brother, Bob Gilbert, and Dorothy’s daughter - Janice Brown, were able to be with us.  Ruby and Dorothy were remembered in the many happy reminiscences.

The afternoon started with a welcome by Julia Wilkie, the Chair of the hall management committee, who introduced her fellow committee members. Guests were then given a tour around the hall marrying up those present and their association with their relatives on the various mural scenes. Many of those present - particularly those ‘first generation’ (sons, daughters of those on the murals) had not met for many years - some, not since the 1930’s/40’s. Many old friendships were renewed with promises to ‘keep in touch’. Several of our guests had travelled from as far away as Scotland and Wales.  Sue & Lin - the two Granddaughters of William Isaacs - the ‘Scoutmaster’ in the murals - were delighted to meet an old school friend of their late Mother, Betty - niece of the late and much loved Daisy Walker - herself a subject in the mural on the end wall.  Many months of research had enabled us to contact members of the majority of village families - these included several members of the Brewer, Crook, Parker and Young families. Thanks must go to them also as they were invaluable in helping us to contact those whom we had been unable to trace. 

The magnificent cake was cut by Kathleen, Irene, Nell & Doreen and they were then presented with a plant by committee members - with one also being presented to Janice for Dorothy Hobbs.

Guests were also able to watch the DVD of the BBC programme ‘Village on the Wall’, which was filmed in the village in 1972. Catherine Haworth gave a talk on the history of the murals which was much enjoyed.

We were overwhelmed by the delight shown by our guests that such a gathering had been arranged - this was a celebration of the murals - not the hall itself. We were unable to go beyond invitations for first and second generation association due to the size of the hall. We would also like to point out that the party was not funded by our recent generous fundraising by the village for the hall refurbishment fund - but met by the general income fund - and also by very generous friends and helpers, who made and donated the cakes, flower arrangements etc – therefore our expenses were minimal. Our photographer, Hugh, did a sterling job taking many pictures which will be available for everyone to see in due course. Afternoon tea was served by Sandy, Ann & Jenny to enable the committee to be able to mingle with the guests.

Since the event, we have been delighted to receive a large number of thanks and congratulations: ‘a triumph’: ‘brilliant organization and superbly choreographed’ : ‘what a buzz’ - that says it all !!