Dick’s Day, 31st May 2015

Sadly (or maybe I should say happily) I missed out this year because of a family wedding, but Dick’s Day was again celebrated in the traditional fashion at the Cottage. The weather was kind-ish and I’m hearing from those who were there that a good time was had by all.

Christine made a splendid speech, having set herself a high standard with readings of “Our revels now are ended…” from The Tempest and Puck’s monologue “If we shadows have offended…” from A Midsummer Night’s Dream… the second play performed at  Willow Cottage over 50 years ago, in 1963.

Christine went on to say :

“Those two pieces had a sort of valedictory air!! And I expect many of you know that this is probably the last summer season at the cottage. It’s 63 years since Dick and Freda bought the cottage, and created the garden and the layout as it is today, and although it has grown bigger it has never lost its original structure.

No one could have guessed then, that this magical, mystical garden would become a treasured part of hundreds of lives, that people from all over the world would visit us, that many would find solace in its peace and tranquility, or that many hearts would become romantically entwined in its scented arbors. But someone has to tend those scented arbors, and from Dick and Freda a long line of gardeners – their four children, the grandchildren ( some of whom spent much of their childhood and teenage years playing and working here ) actors, beekeepers and dozens of friends helped to maintain the garden. Since Dick died the wonderful Liz McGuire has tended those arbors with enormous passion and skill, and, leading a team of volunteers and professionals, has preserved and extended its timeless beauty, I like to think that Dick and Freda look down and give the thumbs up to the changes that have been made!

I’d like to end with some remembrances of the theatre and the cottage from Christina Jarvis, our most talented actress, “I remember the crowd scenes that really had a crowd in them – streams of peasants, and children and dogs that even Shakespeare would have been proud of. I remember the rare times at the cottage when even the planes had gone to bed, and the moon hung full and golden, and the night was warm and velvety black. I remember the bonfires that nearly burned the forest down every year. And the fireworks. And the flares that lighted the forest behind the stage at the end of the evening performance. And the flaming torches that lighted the way to waiting carriages. And Alan Spackman’s magical music that hung in the air long after we had all gone home. These memories of the cottage are locked away in our hearts forever.” And all of us have special memories which we keep in our own hearts. Who knows what the future holds – we shall just have to wait and see!”

Christina’s daughter, Chrina Jarvis, took some photos of the garden on the day – and here they are:

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And Chrina’s quote..:

‘When daisies pied and violets blue
And lady-smocks all silver-white
And cuckoo-buds of yellow hue
Do paint the meadows with delight………’

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A Garden is a lovesome thing, God wot!

Chrina Jarvis


8 thoughts on “Dick’s Day, 31st May 2015

  1. So sorry that this si the last season not sure how long I have been attending about 30 years and a regular visit with my walking group of about 20 years.

    • Hi Jenny, you’ve been to so many shows at the cottage, and it will seem very strange not to see all our old friends, but it’s been great fun so lots of happy memories! Christine x

  2. Sorry Bradley, it’s not possible to carry on, so this will be the last season!! Unless whoever buys it is able to carry on!! Who knows? Christine

    • Hello Hazel. hope you’re feeling a bit better – good to hear from you.
      Love Christine

  3. It feels like my world just got a lot smaller as my first visit to The Cottage as a very young actor was in 1955. I was 8 years old and the magic of that experience has never left me. Productions such as The Bluebird of Happines, The Caucasian Chalk Circle and a later version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream followed in the 60’s and 70’s and a wonderful garden production of Under Milk Wood and Outside Edge and a Shakespeare Anthology with the Greenleaf Actors in the 90’s. Lots of lovely memories which will never fade. Ann McKimm.

    • Hi Anne, we’re having to sell, as no one to keep up with the work etc.But memories will stay with us forever! Love Christine xx

  4. The last summer season !?  Oh no.  It’s the first I’ve heard of it and I am so sorry; I’ve been a regular visitor for the last 15 years or more, through sunshine and stormy weather.  I remember the first Dick’s Day extremely well; it was a very cloudy day, his granddaughter announced that she was going toplay ‘Summertime’ (It’s summertime and the living is easy) dedicated to hismemory, and literally at the second note on her saxophone, the clouds parted like magic and the sun appearedto enormous applause and laughter from everyone.
    Again, very sorry; the end of an era
    Brad (Rawlings)

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