HODs event directory now live - new events added each day!

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.

Every Christmas Winckley Square becomes 'Twinckley' Square © Stephen Riley

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.

Kenny the Scottish Bagpiper. People are drawn from their shopping on the High Street to relax, sing and enjoy mulled wine / © Tony Lewis

  • 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?

Beth Nolan as Annie Budden; acting in front of the green screen ready to be transformed to Christmas Past / © Studiortr

Christmas present

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.

Join the Ghosts of Christmas Past for a special Christmas film from the 'Twinckley' Square

  • 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

About Patricia Harrison

Patricia is Chair of the Friends of Winckley Square. She, like all the Friends, is a volunteer. Her professional background includes bar work, teacher, University lecturer, school adviser / inspector, Educational Publisher, author and latterly website project management for the Home Office, DoH and DfE. Having retired and moved to live on the Square, with her husband Steve,  Patricia loves the way that a group of strangers have come together to achieve remarkable results in a short time- and to form friendships that will last.