How the Highams Players began:
Highams House was originally a Manor House, then a Military Hospital in the First World War and finally a school.
The Highams Players was founded in 1939 by former pupils of Woodford County High School, known at that time as Highams School.
Our past president Barbara Brown was a founder member and with a few friends decided to form a drama society. As it was a girl’s only school, they had to search for men for the male parts.
In 1956/57 the AGM decided to stop production for one year. Barbara was unhappy with this, and whilst walking home with Jean Catmur, she declared she would be the treasurer and Jean would be the secretary. Jean agreed, and from those few humble beginnings the Highams Players grew from strength to strength.
We have to thank these two brave ladies for their initiative. The result being, that not only are we members of the Highams Players, but also friends and we support each other in any way we can. Our rehearsals are in each others homes and that is the core of our friendship.
We continue to produce three plays each season. Our scenery, with exception to prove the rule, are designed and constructed by members. Our costumes are mainly self-supplied, borrowed, made or sometimes hired.
We are mostly all involved in the plays – back stage, front of house, teas, acting and everything else, too numerous to mention!
A happy family.
The ancient Brits were overcome by Angles, Jutes and Saxons.
Who wasted time and energy in fighting between factions.
Then William came from Normandy and brought some kind of order
Though even he was loath to push his luck beyond the border.
To make a list of all his lands was one of his obsessions
And that’s when Highams first appears as one of his possessions.
The Manor House was small at first, but grew throughout the ages
Until a stately mansion stood to grace its latter stages;
But stately homes grew out of date, banished as a rule;
But Highams became the hospital and, late on, a school.
The Woodford girls did very well in lots of different ways
But the thing that they most enjoyed was taking part in plays.
The Old Girls formed a company which flourished ’til the War
When soldiers sat about in fields which was an awful bore.
Then ENSA charged the Highams Players to keep the men amused
Some soldiers enjoyed watching plays, but quite a few refused.
When Peace returned our numbers grew and soon it was quite clear
That now we had the membership to stage three plays a year.
But times had changed, we realised there was no need to roam,
We had to find a local hall which we could call our home.
Some halls we saw were much too big and some were much too small
But in the end we settled down at the Memorial Hall.
And there we put on many plays, straight, comical and thrilling.
The best seats went for one and six, the rest were just a shilling.
In time, the hall became a court. The Highams Players were out
It really seemed for quite a time, our future was in doubt.
And then we found our present home at Wanstead House, The Green.
And that is where, from that time on, our headquarters have been.
In seventy years of staging plays, we can’t have gone far wrong
And so we hope in seventy more, we’ll still be going strong.