Fantastic performances bring Bramber and Beeding history to life

One of the groups walking up the hill at Bramber Castle
One of the groups walking up the hill at Bramber Castle

Exciting live performances brought the history of Bramber and Upper Beeding to life, guiding audiences through various village venues and experiences.

A Norman’s Tale in Bramber and Beeding was organised by Steyning and District Community Partnership and performed on Saturday as part of the Horsham District Year of Culture.

More pictures: Beeding and Bramber history brought to life for Horsham District Year of Culture

It was a great day out for all the family, journeying into the past and following in the footsteps of the early inhabitants of both villages.

Reina Alston, director of the partnership, said: “We had a wonderful day, when all the months of hard work getting the Norman’s Tale together came to fruition.

“This free event was booked out weeks ago and the event certainly lived up to all expectations. It really was a fantastic day.”

St Nicholas Church and Bramber Castle staged historic scenes covering the advent of the Normans, including a visit from William the Conqueror, problems with the monks of Feycamp, the tensions between William de Braose, the 1st Lord of Bramber, and his wife, and tales of ghouls and spirits.

Reina said: “The setting was amazing and the windy conditions only made the whole enactment more energetic. In particular, the sparring between the two swordsmen came alive as they battled it out against the backdrop of the ruined castle.”

At St Mary’s House in Bramber, Lady Aanor, wife of Philip de Braose, the 2nd Lord of Bramber, welcomed guests and then invited them to an audience with King Charles II, in hiding as he waited to journey to Shoreham and on to France.

Guests also met a young woman from around 1939, recounting her romance with a Canadian soldier, who in turn gave a briefing on D-Day plans.

The final scene here had Dorothy Ellis, who purchased St Mary’s in 1944, telling the audience about her dream to preserve the house.

The third venue was St Peter’s Church, also known as Sele Priory, in Upper Beeding. Here, Sussex Falconry gave a live display of majestic birds of prey.

Reina said: “The beauty of these beautiful hunting birds within this fine old church was quite awe inspiring.

“The day was perfection and the crowds that flocked to the villages enjoyed something that was quite unique.

“The interaction between actors and the public was charming and the feedback was that the whole production was highly professional and delightfully entertaining.

“The event was organised by enthusiastic and hard-working volunteers from both Bramber and Beeding. This is My Theatre was responsible for the magnificent theatrical direction and English Heritage gave its blessing for Bramber Castle to be used for the day.”

Steyning will be hosting the St Cuthman’s Wheelbarrow Race on Sunday, June 23. Visit www.steyningsouthdowns.co.uk for more information.