Bedhampton’s bash for the Coronation proved dramatic

Alan Sanger and his cousin Audrey (with their backs to the camera) are in the centre of this historic blitz picture taken at Fratton.

Bomb site boy is revealed, 76 years after blitz on Portsmouth

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Cast your mind back to 1953 and the Queen’s Coronation.

Do you remember the Little Pageant of Bedhampton, produced that year to mark the dawning of a new Elizabethan era?

Maureen Armstrong’s parents produced it and she has got in touch from her home in Brislington, Bristol, wondering if readers can recall the show and have any pictures of it.

She says: ‘I think the family who owned Bedhampton Manor were called Eyles. They contacted my father, Alistair Crowley-Smith, and asked him to put on a play or something dramatic in the grounds.

‘My mother, Margaret Crowley-Smith, wrote a script of short scenes telling the history of Bedhampton from Roman times.’

She says it also featured the Saxon invasion, a visit by Elizabeth I and Second World War air raids.

‘Each scene was performed by a different local amateur drama group including the Teachers’ Dramatic Society, the Community Centre Players and the Civil Defence Drama Group.’

Maureen remembers a linking commentary by ‘the spirit of the yew tree’, accompanied by sprites from a local dance school and invading Romans and Saxons were ‘enthusiastically’ played by boys from the Combined Cadet Force.

She adds: ‘The final scene featured St George on a real white horse. The horse was spooked by the firecrackers in the scene about the Second World War and St George nearly made an ignominious dismount.

‘The weather was awful and the mothers of the sprites wanted them to keep their cardigans on. The damp got into the electrics so the lights did nothing but flicker and microphones crackled.’

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