Robed Choir - All Saints Anglican Church
I joined the Choir in 1954/5 and this history extends to 1974 and the members below served in that period.
SOPRAN0S: Marj. Havill, Dorothy George (Frew), Mrs Booth, Kay Morland, Dorothy Fowler, Jean & Elizabeth Ushakoff (for a short while), Olwyn Stayte, Elizabeth Stayte
ALTOS: Mrs Steel, Beryl Verran, Anne Farrington, Katharine Evers-Swindell, Julie Powell (?) Betty and Helen Wallis, Jenny Peace
BASS/TENORS: Hugh Cooper, Basil Hurst, Edward Farrington, Ian Booth, David Peace, John Collinson, Ted Sharpe
My apologies if I have omitted anyone.
When I joined both men and women wore black cassocks and white surplices. Around 1960 it was decided to obtain proper Choir robes for the women members and fund raising was put in hand. Mr. William Havill, Lay Reader of the Parish, had, before retirement worked for Smith & Caughey Ltd and he obtained from that source bolts of delustred satin finish fabric for the robes.
The first event the Choir held was a Show of Work and any resident could submit work in the various categories for judging. Qualified Judges were appointed to judge the various classes including: embroidery, needlework, baking (sponges and scones), flower specimens etc.
Anne Farrington prepared a series of aprons for various household tasks and these were auctioned. Attractions also included a Dreadnought Stall. A numbered ticket was purchased and in exchange you received a prize of that number. These prizes had been donated by various Highbury firms, Parishioners and interested parties. This Show was a great success and was followed soon after with a Gala Concert in the Parish Hall.
The Concert was packed to the doors.
Mrs Tess Wallis and a group of the Ladies Guild put in hand the making of the lovely new blue robes and square mitre hats. Because of my height my robes required much more fabric so I paid for the fabric and the robes became my personal property. I still have them.
One very cold night I wore navy slacks to Evening Service and wore them under my robes hoping the Vicar would not notice.
He did and said "Beryl, that is a oncer". Rules were strict and only navy or black shoes were to be worn and the robes had to be Psalter height from the floor. Much taking up and letting down of hems took place as members joined and left.
The first Choirmaster/Organist I encountered was Mr. Charles Booth, a very musical knowledgable man. As a trained singer I sang solos in Anthems and excerpts of Oratorio. He left the district and was followed by ~Mr. Alec Hamilton. He was a very musical person. Errol Wilcox was the last Organist/Choirmaster of the robed choir. master work.
John Collinson also did some Choir-master work.
We were a happy Choir, devoted to the music, and enjoyed a lovely warm friendship among the members.
In 1974 the encumbent Vicar decided to cease Evensong and asked the Choir to disband. A sad day for all of us.