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Son et Lumiere 2011

Brightwell Cum Sotwell Through The Ages


Central stage. Two small raised areas either side.

On north side (by piano): Musicians. On South side: live sound FX,

(A crew of 3 or 4 people will be live foley artists creating as many sound effects as possible.)

Screen for back-projection of pictures/video/shadow theatre mounted on tall structure across choir.

Two lighting towers in front of pillars on either side of central aisle.

Sound & lighting controlled from vestry. Two narrators on north side.

A shadow theatre cast will perform the action events behind a screen. (All other participants sit in audience at sides and come forward for their scene.)

Narrator 1: Helen Baines Narrator 2: Chris Baines

Jester/Town Crier: Stanley Glendinning

1. Introduction

(Opening music montage of B-cum-S on screen. (Respighi) Approx. 45”)


There have been families living in Brightwell and Sotwell for over a thousand years. This is the story of some of the changes that have happened….

Exactly 200 years ago - in 1811 - Brightwell had its first, and only, Act of Parliament. It would change the landscape of this parish forever… But before we look back at this - let’s wind the clock back even further to a time when the landscape was completely unrecognizable...


If you go back 25 thousand years we were in the last Ice Age. This area was a frozen tundra completely devoid of trees. The ice cap – which was a mile thick in places - extended to North Oxfordshire.


Then around 14 thousand years ago the planet started to warm up again..

Back then, the River Thames was a tributary of the River Rhine – because Britain was still physically linked to the rest of Europe.

JESTER: “Those were the days!” FROM PULPIT

Then as more and more ice melted, Britain turned into an island.. cut off from mainland Europe…


The Thames became a mighty river in its own right. Water was held back by the narrowness of the Goring Gap, so this area, and even Wittenham Clumps was submerged under a great flood..


When the waters subsided – Stone Age settlements eventually sprung up along the banks of the Thames…

From axe heads found in Mackney we know Stone Age man lived round here..

1a. Brightwell In the Stone Age.

Two Stone Age men dressed in skins come on to stage. One is looking for something.

They talk in grunts that are hard to decipher.

Subtitles show what they’re saying.

What you looking for? Mammoth?

My name not Mammoth – My name Ugh

What you looking for Ugh? Mammoth?

No, Water

What you want water for?



Mmm, and washing

What’s washing

Get clean, stop smelling

Smelling like what?


Do you smell like mammoth

No, I wash

Where you wash?

I found well

Is well clean?

Mm Clean and Bright

Is well hot?

Well cold then comes hot.

What you call this well that’s bright, and then comes hot

Brightwell comes hot well!

2001 music begins.. Cavemen look up.. Recognise tune, pick up bone and throw it into air..

2. Origin of Name

So how did this village get its embarrassingly long name? Well it’s a long story..


“Not too long I hope…” FROM PULPIT LEANING ON ELBOW.

CAPTION: You Live Where?!

(Animated caption)

The first written records date back to the Charters of Saxon Kings, when land was divided into Tithes. In 854 King Aethelwulf assigned this area, which was called Beorhtanwille, to Winchester Cathedral.

The name may have come from a Saxon tribe called the Beorhts….

(In old English “beorht coylle”- meaning clear spring.)

A century later this land was divided between Stottanwille and Beorhtanwille. Both villages had fresh water springs … which may explain where the “well” comes from…


Gradually over the centuries the spelling changed – but the sheep still carried on grazing from one generation to the next:

(Children from Brightwell Primary School perform a dance showing how the names have changed over the centuries. Each child is dressed as a sheep and carries a single letter. The flock is tended by two shepherds who carry crooks.. When the music stops and the sheep call out the new name


In the 10th Century:

Beorhtanwille. (X Century) Stottanwille

In the 11th Century:

Bristowell (XI Century) Sottewell

In the 13th Century:

Bretewell (~XIII Century) Sotwelle

In the 14th century:

Brithwell (~XIV Century Suttanwylle

In the 15th Century

Brygtwell (~XV Century) Shottewell

In the 19th Century:

Bryghtwell (~XI X Century) Satwell

In the 20th Century:

Brightwell (~XX Century) Sotwell

Until…. Finally…. the two villages came together to form:


Brightwell - Cum - Sotwell

SODC Inspector:

“I’ve got a better idea – how about Brightwell-Cum-Sotwell-Cum-Site ‘B’….

or better still:.. Wallingford-Cum-Brightwell-Cum-Sotwell-Cum-Didcot..”


“Why not just forget about the messy bit in the middle!”


SODC Inspector:

“What a brilliant plan… Wallingcot!


3. The Danes & Normans

As far as we know Brightwell and Sotwell managed to escape the attention of marauding Danes who used to cruise down the River Thames on search-and-destroy missions. Nearby villages, like Cholsey, were less fortunate.

However, we did not escape William the Conquerer’s tax inspectors who came to the village to collect information for the Domesday Book.

As news of their arrival spread, it was tempting to hide the odd animal or plough to avoid paying taxes.

(Shadow acting behind screen of invading hordes/ Norman officials/outline of plough being carried away/sound of struggling animal/pig squealing.)

4. Brightwell In The Domesday Book

CAPTION: Brightwell In The Domesday Book

When the Domesday Book was completed in 1086, it listed 48 families living in Brightwell.


“Hear Ye! Hear Ye! Here be the tally for our parish:

17 villeins.

16 cottars.

and 15 serfs.

The Lord of the Manor divided his land between his peasants.

A villein had about 30 acres scattered in strips across the open fields.

A cottar held about five acres and often worked for the villeins.

A serf had no land of his own and was essentially a slave.

MUSIC (Plainsong.. or Handel’s Water Music)

Doomsday Sketch

Lord: I am a wealthy landowner and I look down on him because he provides manual labour to cultivate my land.

Villein: I am a Villein; a peasant, so I look up to him. However, in return for my labour I can farm fields for my own use; so I look down on him

Serf: I have no land and no animals – although I grow the odd marrow…

…. I look up to both of them

Lord: I have much livestock:, cows, chickens, sheep and a prize herd of pigs

Villein: I have two Oxen, which I use to render my ploughing dues to my Lord. In return for this, my lord gave me one of his prize pigs

Serf: I have no sheep, no cows and no chickens… but I do smell like one of his prize pigs

Lord: I live in a fine house in Mackney with many outhouses. There are a number of daub and wattle cottages on my land as well.

Villein: I live in one of those daub and wattle cottages. But I do have a pig sty

Serf: Guess where I live?

Lord: At the moment, the Villein and the serfs are bound to me and are not freemen. The Villeins might achieve a degree of freedom through Manumission.

Villein: Manumission to me means that I can become a freeman, own land and even leave the village.

Serf: - I don’t know ‘bout that; I thought Man.U’s mission was to win the Premiership

Lord: I have a sizeable operation managing a large holding of many acres

Villein I have no operation, only myself looking after a smallholding

Serf: After my operation I have no holding at all

Serf: I have no option but to labour every day that my Lord or the Villein demands; so I look up to him

Villein: I am required to labour for my Lord two of three days a week. So I look up to him.

Lord: I look down on both of them because I am like the Labour party: They labour and I party

Villein: I am not a party animal – but we are fattening up a pig for Easter this year

Serf: Burp… excuse me…(lick lips)…That’s what he thinks!


5. Brightwell Castle

CAPTION: Brightwell Castle

If you were sitting here in 1150 you would be within the grounds of a Castle that was used to lay siege on Wallingford Castle.

Brightwell Castle was nothing like Wallingford’s. It was a temporary ‘counter castle’ probably made from wood.

(The remains of the moat still exist today around Brightwell House next door to the church).

(Illustrations/artist’s impression of Wallingford & Brightwell Castles) CAPTION OFF.


In the middle of the 12th Century this area was in turmoil. There had been a state of civil war ever since King Henry 1 had died and his nephew, Stephen, had seized the crown.

The rightful heir to the throne was Henry’s daughter, Matilda. She returned from France to enforce her claim and conducted her campaign from Wallingford Castle.

Brightwell castle was used by King Stephen’s men against Matilda’s supporters in Wallingford. Three times they laid siege against Wallingford… and three times they were beaten back.

5a. Matilda and Stephen sketch.

Scene – Stephen’s Castle in Wallingford, under siege from Matilda’s troops - Castle door (if video clip then could use Church Door – be good to have a couple of arrows in it)

SODC Inspector knocks at door, Stephen answers, with crown on head looking very flushed. Inspector (wearing bowler hat) has a clip board and is making notes….

Stephen: What do you want … Are you the Relief? Is that all they could send, my God we’re undone!

Inspector: I don’t wish to know that Mr (checks pad), Aah yes, Mr King. My name is Snodgrass; Snodgrass of the SODC, Planning inspector. We have been led to believe that you may have begun work on an extension WITHOUT planning permission

Stephen: Just who are you? What do you want?

Inspector: Well it’s something about an extension for a toilet; costing about 80 so I am led to believe; my secretary did make an appointment.

Stephen: What do you think you are doing we are in the middle of a siege

Inspector: Ooh a siege you say; well I can’t help that. My secretary definitely sent you notification of my visit with a view to checking your extension

Stephen: But we are in the middle of a fight

Inspector: Oh really, who are you fighting?

Stephen: Well my Cousin Matilda actually

Inspector: Ooh, having a domestic are we?

Stephen: No not exactly, more like a war of succession; we’ve already lost the East Tower to a Ballistar.

Inspector: Really? Did you have planning permission to demolish that?

Stephen: Don’t you realize what is happening; I’ve got to get the families into the Keep for their protection

Inspector: Families? Living in the Keep? I’m sorry Mr King, but that is change of use and I’m sure you have not applied for permission.

Stephen: Look I really haven’t got time for this you clearly do not understand

Inspector: Oh but I think I do Mr King; not only do you build an illegal extension, demolish a tower without planning permission, but you deliberately change the use of the Keep without form SODC 2573

(As he says this, Stephen is raising his axe to chop the Inspector’s head off).

Inspector: and do you have a license for that Axe, Mr King?

Fanfare (Shadow theatre of fighting on screen… sounds of battle. Outline of wooden pallisades cut out of hardboard. Sound of destruction. Shadow of big axe being wielded. Lighting change. King crowned.

5b. Surrender

King Stephen eventually surrendered Brightwell castle to Matilda’s son, Henry and after that it was destroyed.


In the Treaty of Wallingford, it was declared that when Stephen died, Matilda’s son would become King.

The following year Henry was crowned Henry II - the first Plantagenet King of England.

6. The Story of St Agatha and early Church History

CAPTION: The Story of St Agatha


This church dates back to the 12th Century. Around the time it was built, King Stephen’s brother had presented Winchester Cathedral with a relic of St Agatha.

But who was St Agatha? Only one other church in England is dedicated to this obscure saint.


St. Agatha’s story is a grizzly tale set on the island of Sicily, in the shadow of a volcano, in Roman times.

Agatha was renowned for her beauty among the Sicilians. When the new Governor of Sicily, Quintian, first laid eyes on her, he tried to woo her with presents and promises of love.

She refused his advances, so he began to persecute her. When she still turned her back on him, he was furious, and demanded to know why.

AGATHA: “I am a free woman and the servant of Jesus Christ”


When she still would not submit, he showed no mercy. She was taken away to a dark dungeon where she was beaten. (Legend has it that her breasts were cut off, which is possibly why she became the patron saint of bell-ringers.)

While she was lying in the dungeon, a miracle happened… (Bell sounds)

At midnight St. Peter appeared in a vision. The guards fled and Peter tended the wounds with ointment.

On discovering that Agatha’s wounds had miraculously healed, Quintian ordered that she should be burned on a great fire. But before the order could be carried out, an earthquake struck. Realising this was God’s warning, Quintian let her return to her cell where she later died peacefully. Shortly afterwards the volcano, Mount Etna, erupted causing widespread devastation.

A Crusader returned to England with the story. It’s possible someone brought back a fragment of bone – a relic of the saint – which was presented to the Bishop in Winchester who passed it on to Brightwell - so that’s how this church became dedicated to St Agatha… who is the patron saint of bell ringers..

(Gregorian Chant)

Very little of the original church remains today apart from the old door-way in the South Wall and the upper walls of the nave. A tower was added in the 13th Century.

(•• Possible montage of church ••.)

7. The Black Death



1349 was a terrible year. A pandemic spread across Europe.

Wherever there are humans there are rats…


And rats carry fleas..

And back then when fleas bit humans… they carried a deadly germ…

The Black Death

It wiped out 100 million people worldwide.

In England many villages lost more than half their inhabitants.

Brightwell escaped relatively lightly with a death toll of 29%.

Brightwell’s rector at the time, Peter le Dene, who died in that year, was probably one of the victims.

The Black Death caused a great labour shortage. Vast stretches of land were left uncultivated... Much of it was turned to grass.


Ring a ring a roses…

8. The Drovers Return

‘Sheep’ from Brightwell School ‘baah’ the tune of Coronation Street.

From the Middle Ages drovers passed through the village with their flocks. Some were travelling West to join the Ridgeway… others came from the Midlands to the Great Sheep Fair at East Ilsley…. While the sheep drank at the Wellsprings, the drovers refreshed themselves at one of the local hostelries.

(2 shepherds with crooks and tankards enter… )

Right up to the 1920’s drovers would pass through the village begging a night’s accommodation in an out-house or barn, and downing a pint or two at the Swan or the Red Lion.



Jeremiah Clarkson: Well if it isn’t my old pal Little Richard Hammond.

Richard: Jeremiah Clarkson, you old wool head. What have you been up to? Still producing Top Shear?

Jeremiah: No, just finished my latest book: Flocking all over the world........ Anyway how are you? Haven’t seen you since Michaelmas fair last year; I remember you leaving the village roaring along with your flock of Berkshire Notts. I must say they were real beauties; what lines; what panache!

Richard: Yes I remember. Could do nought to three and a half inside 15 minutes. Unfortunately I lost the lot in a pile up on the A 417 near Letchlade.

One of the Ewes had a blow-out; terrible mess. Unfortunately, old James May Day was standing in the way, what a stink!

Jeremiah (Sniffs the air). Hold on there’s something coming downwind. If I’m not mistaken....(James comes on) well, talk of the devil

James: Well, well fancy bumping into you guys

Richard: (screws up nose and turns away) Well I don’t actually, could you stand over there please (positions him to the side). I see your still droving your old Merinos

James: Well yes, but they are getting a bit slow now, I am off the trade them in at Abingdon Fair, got my eyes on a top of the range Dorset. It’s got a new double safety feature.

Richard: What’s that?

James: A pair of horns.

Honk! Honk! From sound FX

Jeremiah: A pair of Horns? That’s about as useful, as a snooze button on a smoke alarm.

Richard: Of course James you always were safety conscious, you know what they say: ‘speed kills’

Jeremiah: Rubbish, Speed has never killed anyone, ….suddenly becoming stationary... That's what gets you

Jeremiah: (to Richard) What are you driving now?

Richard: Well, I decided to stay with what I know best, the Shortwools, so I’ve gone for the new model Southdown and I must say she purrs like a contented tom cat. What about you?

Jeremiah: Me? I couldn’t get the rush from a shortwool. No I thought I’d really splash out and go for something seriously meaty before I get too old and my crooks crock. The Longwool for me; the classic Border Leicester. There is nothing quite like that Large hornless white face to make the heads turn driving along the Ridgeway to Wantage. I sheer the hindlegs to give it my stamp and well, now that I’ve got my personalised flock registration number, it really sends out a message: C Ewes later

James: Well I better be off, which way are you guys headed?

Richard: (To James). (Turning his head from the smell). Up wind I think.... we’ve got to get to old Greasby’s farm before nightfall.

James: Actually you know, I’ve heard of a farm near here where they’re carrying out experiments to actually engineer a new breed. Its got a totally black face, white body and never utters a sound.

Jeremiah: Wow what’s it called?

James: A Stig Farm….. Apparently it is so secret they won’t even give the breed a real name

Richard: Gosh, how do they keep it so secret

James: Well anyone caught near it will have the wool pulled over their eyes. Well must be off Baa Baa

Richard and Jeremiah: Baa-Baa, Baa-Baa

Children sheep join in the bleating…

10. A Murder in Brightwell Church


(A drop of blood animates from bottom of ‘7’ and drips down with a ‘plop’ sound effect .)


One of the darkest episodes in the church’s history happened in 1507.


(Sound of squeaky door opening.. Church DARK. Red light alcove & door)

A hooded figure advances on a kneeling priest in shadowland. DARK BLUE

It was a time when some individuals held grudges against the church, which had a growing reputation for being greedy. The exact motive for the crime which followed is not known.

Robert Forde, a ‘foreigner’ from East Hendred, entered this church and approached a priest. His name was John Sketefield. According to Forde’s confession before the Mayor of Wallingford, he attacked Sketefield with a sword and struck him in the head with a dagger.

The murder of John Sketefield, who was probably a curate to the church, is recorded on a 16th Century brass in the south aisle..

Shadow scene acted behind screen.

Sound FX Echo-Foot steps.. Bells tolls..

11. The Church Wardens’ Lot

In 1549 when Henry VIII declared himself Head of the Church and broke away from the Pope, many monasteries were destroyed, leaving the sick and poor with nowhere to go.

CAPTION: The Church Wardens’ Lot

This left village church wardens with a long list of responsibilities….


Mending roads and bridges

Killing rats and other vermin,

Washing surplices

Building pulpits

Helping travelers

Overseeing the poor,

And maintaining whipping posts, pounds and stocks.

(The village stocks used to stand opposite the Red Lion Pub.)

The Churchwarden’s Lament

(to the tune of The Policeman’s Lot with apologies to Gilbert & Sullivan.)

(Alec McG, Roy T, John Rodda).

We would like to tell you all of our employment, our employment

And the shocking duties that we must perform, must perform

You’ll soon see we do not do these for enjoyment, for enjoyment

Particularly in the winter’s storm, winter’s storm.

The graveyard of St James’s we must see to, we must see to

And prevent the roof of Ag’tha’s falling down, falling down

And the choirboys often need a damn good thrashing, damn good thrashing

Oh the warden’s lot is not a happy one, happy one!

Ah when Parish warden’s duties to be done, to be done

Oh the warden’s lot is not a happy one, happy one!

Sadly Rentokil has not yet been invented, been invented

And controlling rats so occupies our time, -pies our time

And we do not have the tools to mend the fencing, mend the fencing

The vicar’s on our backs to tackle crime, tackle crime.

But most of all the poor must be looked after, be looked after

Oh it’s sad we have no time to call our own, call our own

And then dare we mention our remuneration, -muneration

Oh the warden’s lot is not a happy one, happy one!

Ah when Parish warden’s duties to be done, to be done

Oh the warden’s lot is not a happy one, happy one!

12. The Headmaster’s Lot

CAPTION: The Headmaster’s Lot

Shadows of wild kids projected on background. DULL GREY?

Master SITS down looking weary and dejected

In 1634 the Chief Master of Abingdon School, Dr. Thomas Godwin, retired and came to Brightwell to be the new rector. An observer described him as

"being as tween broken or wearied out with the drudgery of the school."

The Church Wardens, hum… FIRST PART


A headmaster’s lot is not a happy one, happy one.”

“After he had for some years enjoyed himself in great repose in requital of his many labours, he surrendered up his soul to God on 20th March 1642.”


13. Brightwell in the Civil War.


In 1645, the Civil War was raging between Charles I and his parliament.

(Some Brightwellians were probably recruited for the Royalist cause, but the village itself escaped unscathed.)

Dr Edward Hyde, the new Rector at Brightwell, was a Royalist, and he soon found himself hauled in front of a Church committee in Reading…


“Please ask Dr Hyde to come before the committee.


“Any minister who maintains blasphemous or atheistic opinions, who sides with the King as against the parliament, who reads the Book of Common Prayer in public, who encourages Whitsun Ales, Wakes, Morris dancing, Maypoles or other licentious practices.. … will be considered SCANDALOUS.”


“What have you got to say for yourself – Dr Hyde?”


“My allegiance remains with the King!”

Dr Hyde’s “scandalous” behavior cost him his job and he was ejected from Brightwell.

14. The Census of 1676


In 1676 a census was taken by the Bishop of Salisbury, who had good reason to want to know how many people lived in his diocese.


“Population of Brightwell: 234.”

At this time all the inhabitants of a parish were assumed to be church people. The church levied a "tax" which most small-holders paid according to the size of their holding. The tax varied from £3-£15 (today that would be between £150 to £1,200).

"Smoke farthings" or Pentecost money was collected four times a year, on Christmas Day, Palm Sunday, Easter and Whit Sunday. )

14a The Rev. Alsop’s Secret


• Alec McG VERSE•

Read by Amanda Potter

Picture the village scene

The year seventeen sixteen

A scandal to the village came

The Reverend Allsop was his name.

Our vicar married New Year’s Eve

But then, can you believe?

No sooner had they reached New Year

Another lady did appear

“You promised, you swore, to marry me

You blaggard, you charlatan” said she

For breach of promise, she resorts

To take the vicar to the courts.

After the lady had her say

Two thousand pounds he had to pay

A hefty fine imposed on him

As payment for his dreadful sin.

Filled with a mighty dread

The vi car, simply, fled!

But a little later he came a cropper

Fell down a hole, a right big whopper!

In Winchester he met his fate

When walking rather late

Beneath his foot the ground gave way

Our vicar had had his day.

Though sad to see a woman scorned

The villagers still mourned

Brightwell prayed for his immortal soul

Our only vicar to fall down a hole!

15. The Brightwell Boy who lost America

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