Letter: Rural touring - A Parson’s Tale at Tetford, 1997

In February 1997, my wife, Joy and I embarked on a tour of my one-man show, A Parson’s Tale, for Lincolnshire Rural and Community Touring, visiting a number of villages such as Harpswell and Hemswell, Allington, Castle Bytham, Helpringham and Kirton.

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It was a new adventure for us.

In the Spring that year we came to Tetford and stayed with Betty Larder in her beautiful cottage and sampled her excellent jams.

We returned the following year to perform Right Ho, Wodehouse!

A Parson's Tale.

We took the show throughout Nottinghamshire, North Yorkshire, Norfolk, Cumbria, Somerset, Cornwall, Kent. Thereon to Cyprus and the Gulf States.

In the UK, we would stay in B&Bs or hospitality venues.

We’d have lunch - our main meal of the day - at a pub and would arrive at our venue for that day at 3.30pm, set up the lights, the simple set, perform at 7.30.pm, strike the set and lights, and get back to where we were staying.

Next morning, off we’d go again.

Christopher Owen pictured with his new book.

People ask us what decided us to tour as we did. We were both is our 60s. (I’m now 84 – no more touring for me!).

I’d been doing well as an actor in the 1990s, featuring in the BBC House of Cards, Sharpe’s Honour, Men Behaving Badly, Minder, etc.

But, as with actors generally, there came a period when there was less interesting work on offer.

I’d been interested in the social history of 19th century parsons, did a lot of research and put together my play.

At a later date I put together Right Ho, Wodehouse! which Joy and I toured extensively.

I retired as an actor a few years ago and have continued writing with modest success, my plays performed, my stories in magazines and anthologies. And now my book America Awaits Us, My Lovely and Other Stories has been published, available in bookshops, online retailers and from Troubador Publishers.

Of all my 55-plus years working as an actor these tours hold a special place in our hearts.
Christopher Owen has provided a diary entry on the day of his visit to Tetford

February 14, 1997 - Joy’s birthday. We lunch in Louth at The King’s Head.

We drive through picturesque Wolds to arrive at Hill View (Betty and Hugh Larder’s house) with marmalade for sal on the gate.

This is the most rural of our venues ever so far.

Mrs Larder’s bird-pudding is hanging in an upturned margarine carton for birds. Joy buys marmalade and jams. We are offered six o’clock fish and chips, but graciously decline.

The rector there recently ran off with a parishioner, which causes much amusement when it is mentioned that the show’s Rev. Mr Rashleigh and Mrs Smith have together not arrived this evening.

This audience was prepared, it seems, to do Dean Hole’s proposed movements during Excelsior! But I decide against.

On way we call in at Hainton, Six Hills.

Outside the Heneage Arms is the large blackboard notice: ‘Served Here: Emu, Ostrich, Bison, etc!’

Christopher Owen

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