500 turn out for Singing in the Wilderness

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Epping Forest District Council and St John’s C of E Primary School, Buckhurst Hill hosted a special event, ‘Singing in the Wilderness’ to celebrate the life and work of local artist Walter Spradbery.

The event, on Saturday 29 September, was a recreation of the ‘Open Air Social’ event that Spradbery and his wife Dorothy held at their home in 1938, marking its 80th anniversary.

500 people

An estimated 500 people came along to see the stalls, sideshows, donkey rides, traditional dances and art displays and raised over £600 for St John’s C of E Primary School. The event brought together the local community with Buckhurst Hill Residents Society working in partnership with the council, school and St John’s Church, Buckhurst Hill.

Flux Dance Collective

There was a specially choreographed dance performance by Flux Dance Collective who worked with pupils from the school to create a piece inspired by Spradbery. A historical interpreter played the role of Walter Spradbery, leading tours into the Wilderness to visit the site where the house once stood, next to the school. Buckhurst Hill Community Association and Bedford House both had art exhibitions on display, and there was a small exhibition about Walter Spradbery. The day ended with a fun performance by Impropera, the world’s only improvised Opera Company.

Exhibition at Epping Forest District Museum

This event is part of a programme of activities for the ‘Walter Spradbery, Artist in War and Peace’ exhibition, at Epping Forest District Museum, Waltham Abbey; on display until Saturday 22 December 2018.

For more information visit www.eppingforestdc.gov.uk/museum

Walter Spradbery

Spradbery is best known for his poster designs for London Transport, one of which was recently used on the new signboards marking the boundaries of Epping Forest. He and his wife, opera singer Dorothy D’Orsay, also held many musical and opera performances in the gardens of ‘The Wilderness’ for the local community.

Spradbery was also a committed pacifist. He served in the Royal Army Medical Corps during the First World War, receiving the Distinguished Conduct Medal for his bravery in rescuing injured comrades under intense enemy fire.