Christmas in the Square
"How to fill the void left by the absence of Mulled wine and Parched peas was our key dilemma" - Patricia Harrison, from Friends of Winckley Square, Preston introduces their Christmas Concert Covid Challenge. Light a candle and get comfy with a mug of something warming then read on to hear how they created a new Christmas Cracker, featuring some special guests and ghosts of Christmas Past.
A traditional 'Twinckley' square
The Friends of Winckley Square (FoWS) are dedicated to celebrating both the heritage and future of our Georgian Square in the heart of Preston, Lancashire. Covid presented us with a dilemma. Our annual Christmas Concert takes place in the Square. It is opened by the mayor and attracts hundreds every year.
- We always have Christmas carols sung around a very large Christmas tree led by a choir with everyone issued with words and music so all can join in. Impossible in every respect under Covid!
- We serve Mulled wine and Parched Peas (A Preston and Lancashire delicacy, parching is an old word for slow cooking). Both equally out of the question.
- We have musicians on stage (banned now of course), a Scottish Bagpiper who walks from the centre of town leading people to the Square and last year we ended with a light and sound show.
So, instead of the public coming to us, how could we go to them?
We decided we would offer an alternative. Nothing could be ‘live’ but we could create a video to include some of the regular features. Our Christmas offering contains appearances from Kenny the Scottish Bagpiper, from a Zoom choir put together by one of the Friends who leads choirs locally, we managed our own script writing and we hired costumes. Preston had long been under strict restrictions so we were each filmed in isolation. We were filmed in a studio with a green screen background so historical backgrounds could be added.
Featuring the Ghosts of Christmas Past
We already have a website that includes stories of the lives of those who have lived or worked on the Square in the past. Their stories often reflect wider social, political and economic aspects of the UK’s past; brought to life in the personal profiles of real people who once walked where we now tread. We decided to choose a small sample of characters and bring them to life by having Friends play their roles in an event drawn from each life; all linked to Christmas.
- Annie Budden: A servant who died in the dentist’s chair and whose death was attributed to wearing corsets that were too tight.
- Edith Rigby: Preston’s leading suffragette who was repeatedly jailed and force fed.
- Thomas Monk: Mayor of Preston accused of murder and forgery.
- Henrietta Jessop: Married to an abusive husband, she took the case to the courts risking social exclusion at a time when only 1 in 1000 women trod that path.
- Thomas Miller: Fabulously wealthy cotton magnate.
- Santa is a friend of ours so naturally he makes an appearance struggling with a drone to check out the very large roof tops and chimneys on the Georgian houses.
Hear their stories of memorable Christmases and join the Friends of the Square for a Christmas Cracker of a concert; COVID cancellation - NEVER!
Find out more
- Watch the 'Winckley Christmas Cracker here (Live from 6th December 4pm )
- Discover more tales and activities from Winckley Square