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Theatrical & Musical activities

Villagers have been entertained by theatrical and musical events for many years.
Evington Place House hosted week long Victorian House parties which includded shooting and sporting events
and amateur dramatics. From the Newspaper reports below, they played to an invited audience of civic and military
dignitaries. These shows for the gentry, by the gentry, ceased when Evington Place was vacated in the early
20th century and Evington was pulled down in 1938. The article indicates that these were annual events.

16 March 1861

EVINGTON:- The mansion of Sir Courtenay Honywood Bart. has been the scene of great festivities during the past week. On Wednesday the worthy baronet invited the members of the Mounted Rifles belonging to his troop, with their wives, and also his tenants and their wives, to witness some private theatricals. One of the drawing rooms was very tastefully fitted up as a theatre, the stage, scenery, dresses etc being furnished from London. About a hundred and thirty assembled. The audience were highly delighted and expressed their approval at intervals very warmly. After the performance, the supper room was thrown open, where everything was provided on a most magnificent scale. After super, dancing commenced, and was kept up until an early hour in the morning. On Thursday exactly similar amusements were provided for a more select circle. Among the guests, besides those staying at Evington were- Lord St. Vincent, Miss Glegg, Miss Honywood, Sir Norton Knatchbull,Bart. and Lady Knatchbull, Sir John Jones, Captain and Mrs Burridge, Rev. H.H. Hallett and Miss Hallett, Rev. W Dickins and the Misses Dickins, Rev. Brenchley Kingsford, T.H. Mackay Esq. and Mrs Mackay, Mrs and Miss Haydock, Mrs and the Misses Robert Furley, the Misses Croft, Mr and Mrs Stubfield, Mr Knight, General Hankey and Lady Emily Hankey, several of the Officers of the garrison etc etc

18-19 March 1863
EVINGTON:- The festivities which, through the hospitality of Sir Courtenay Honywood, Bart., have now come to be looked forward to as an annual affair here, took place last week. On Monday the following guests arrived, and stayed during the week:- Lord Henry Paget, Earl and Countess Mountcharles, Captain and the Hon. Mrs Steuart, Captain Billington, Colonel Hankey, H. Pottinger Esq., Captain Pemberton, Mr & Mrs Vachel and Miss Annesley, Mrs Steel and Miss Wood, T.K. Holmes Esq., R Honywood Esq., Major Withington, Miss Honywood, Mr and Mrs A Denne.
The amateur theatricals took place on Wednesday and Thursday, and came off with greater eclat than ever. The enterprising manager, who has already catered so liberally for the public, had not only secured the services of nearly all his old'company', but received a great accession of strength in the person of Mrs Steele, whose acting was of the very highest order. Miss Wood also another addition to the company, showed decided talent. The bill of fare was as follows:-

Major Karl Von Walstein - Captain Steuart
Baron Muldorf - H. Pottinger Esq.
Count Muffenhausen - Sir C. Honywood
Max, a valet (his original part) - Herr Von Speke
Baroness Muldorf - Miss Wood
Gertrude - Lady Honywood

followed by the farce of
Tom Noddy - TK Holmes Esq.
Colonel Ormond - W. Honywood Esq.
Inkpen - Captain Pemberton
Gabrielle - Mrs. Steel
Miss Mary - Miss Wood
Officers, Guests, Bridesmaids, Servants, Messengers etc etc by the Band of Brothers.
Vivat Regina. Floreat Archepiscopus

Where all did so well, it would be almost invidious to particularise, but we cannot omit to state that Lady Honywood as Gertrude never shone to greater advantage, and played the part to perfection. Sir Courtenay as the count was irresistibly droll, and if 'a wife' could be won by a wig he must have succeeded. Miss Wood made the most of the Baroness, and the same may be said of Messrs. Steuart and Pottinger in their respective characters. "Tom Noddy's Secret" proved a most brilliant success, and we may fairly say was quite equal to any professional performance. Mrs Steele whether as Gabrielle or Gabriel was inimitable. Anything more natural, more truthful, more graceful than her acting we never saw, and she is one of the few who seem to possess the happy knowledge of the ars celare artem. The embarrassment on her first assumption of her new attire, when she sat looking bewildered at herself. Miraturque novas fondes et nonsua poma was as life-like a representation asever was witnessed. Captain Pemberton, good as he always is, this time as Inkpen quite eclipsed himself, and kept the house (no easy thing in the provinces) continually in roars. A better Tom Noddy than Mr. Holmes it would be impossible to find, or a character more made to suit him. He seemed to realise it to the life, never losing sight of it throughout, and solved the "knotty" point at last, amid loud cheers. Miss Mary was capitally illustrated by Miss Wood, and Colonel Ormond could not have had a better representative than Mr. William Honywood, who looked the chavalier all over. The house was crammed from pit to stalls on either night. The first performance, as usual, being given to Sir Courtenay Honywood's yeomanry troop and his tennants, and the second to the "Upper ten," and the comfort of all was equally cared for. A most sumptious supper followed on each evening, and dancing was kept up on both nights till almost "break of day", and loath were the guests to leave this hospitable abode. Amongst the guests present on Thursday evening, besides those already enumerated as staying in the house were Major Dickson, Lady North, Miss Flora Eden and Lord Hastings, Colonel Davis, Captain Davis and the Misses Davis, -Billington Esq., Mr and Miss Billington, T.H. Mackay Esq. and Mrs Mackay, Colonel Ramsay and Lady Susan Ramsay, the Misses Dickens, Mrs Oliphant and Miss Young, J. Furley Esq. and Misses Furley, the Rev. Gostwyck Prideaux, Rev. H Hallett and Mrs Hallett, Mrs Morgan, Miss Smythe and Miss Brown, Mrs and Miss Trueman, H Denne Esq. and Miss Denne, Mrs and Miss Haydock, the Rev. Mr and Mrs Lannotte, Captain Byrne and the Officers of the Canterbury Garrison, Major Bush and the officers of the Dover and Shorncliff Garrisons. Amongst other amusements were a pigeon shooting match onThursday and a "drag-hunt" on Friday. The latter, however, was not very successful on account of the foggy state of the weather. We must not forget to mention that on Friday "The Bounding Bricks of Babylon" (of which celebrated body Sir Courtenay Honywood is a very important member), amused the company with a display of their really wonderful performances. Altogether a very pleasant week was spent, and a large circle of guests of nearly every degree will long bear in happy remembrance the omnificent hospitality of Sir Courtenay and Lady Honywood.

After the second world war, in about 1950, an amateur dramatic society was formed to give a creative and artistic outlet to people in the area
and to raise funds for the building of the new village hall, now called Evington Hall. It is sited on land that was part of the Evington Estate, and
geographically is in Elmsted Parish, though the border of Elmsted with Hastingleigh extends almost to the centre of Hastingleigh village.

Prior to the building of The Village Hall, Parish meetings and indoor events usually had taken place in the Old Parish Room on Tamley Lane, which
had been funded and built by the generosity of the Rev. Anthony Collett, Vicar of Elmsted & Rector of Hastingleigh.
With dances being held at Bodsham School for many years there was never any lack of enthusiastic participants for theatrical events.

The Amateur Dramatic Society became known as the Evington Players, and for more than half a century, they have regularly put on plays and
musicals, and a large number of the people of Hastingleigh, Elmsted and surrounding areas, have been involved in one capacity or another over
the years.

Local events are now organised by the E.C.P. (Evington Community Project.) 

Update May 2015:

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