Penny readings, 1866-67

Penny readings became very popular in North Bucks in the mid-Victorian period, particularly among middle-class men. The audience paid one penny to attend and volunteers provided the entertainment in the form of readings, songs and musical performances, concluding with the National Anthem. Things seem to have got out of hand at times in Winslow in the first season. The newspaper reports usually gave full lists of the pieces performed, which have been omitted here.

Buckingham Advertiser, 15 Sep 1866

 On Thursday evening, Sept. 6, a meeting was held at the George Hotel, preparatory to establishing a Penny Reading Entertainment at Winslow.  The chair was occupied by Dr. Boisragon.  The meeting was attended by the clergy and most of the leading gentlemen and tradesfolk of Winslow.  Dr. Boisragon was appointed president of the movement, and the following gentlemen as a committee of management:- Messrs. White, Morecraft, J. King, Edwards, Simons, Piper, Sear, J. East, Eady, L. [?J.L.] French, and G. Hawley.  Mr. T. Simons was elected treasurer, and Mr. G. J. Eady, as Hon. Sec.  It was proposed, seconded, and carried,- That a number of gentlemen be appointed as vice-presidents, for the purpose of acting as chairmen, alternately, at the reading meetings.- On Monday last, a committee meeting was held at the Boys’ School-room, when it was decided that the first entertainment be given on Monday next, the 17th instant, the president, Dr. Boisragon, in the chair, who will give the inaugural address.  A first-rate programme of readings and vocal and instrumental music has been drawn up to tempt the solitude-loving inhabitants of Winslow from their retreats.  We wish the movement every success, and hope soon to see Winslow on a par with other towns..

Buckingham Advertiser, 29 Sep

ASSAULT.- Alfred Walker, of Winslow, higgler, was fined £2 and 11s. costs for assaulting Mr. L. Jones, at Winslow, on the 17th of September.  The defendant was at the Winslow Penny Readings, drunk and very noisy; on being remonstrated with he struck complainant in the face.

Buckingham Advertiser, 20 Oct

PENNY READINGS.- These Readings took place at the Boys’ School-room on Monday, Oct. 15th.  The room was densely crowded, upwards of 300 persons being present, and the utmost order and unanimity of feeling was apparent the whole of the evening. Mr. D. Barton [?Alfred Barton] presided on the occasion, and in a very able address spoke as follows:- I have much pleasure in presiding at the meeting of this evening, being the third in a series of the Winslow Penny Readings.  I am perfectly aware of the onerous duties I have to discharge, but I feel greatly relieved from making any lengthened observations from the fact that Dr. Boisragon in his inaugural address at the first meeting clearly, explicitly, and with good taste stated the object and aim of Penny Readings; therefore on my part it is unnecessary to recapitulate them.  By way of remark I will make a few suggestions relative to our Readings.  First- That the principals of the various scholastic establishments in this town and neighbourhood be invited to allow some of their pupils occasionally to take part in these readings; it would give to the pupils an assurance and confidence in speaking in public so desirable in these times of progress.  Indeed I may say it would instruct the young and divert the wise.  Secondly- I should like to see, at no distant date, the working man and artisan taking part with us; they have only to put their shoulder to the wheel and difficulties which might appear to stand in their way would soon be removed, for we must remember one of our great poets has told us “The proper study of mankind is man.” Thirdly- Although last not least, I hope to have the ladies to assist us at once in our readings; it would give variety, add a charm and grace to our meetings, and signalise our success.  In conclusion, I am happy to say, we have a well-organised committee of management, assisted by an indefatigable Hon. Secretary; and any one wishing for information, or to give in their name for future readings, will meet with every attention from the committee or Hon. Secretary.  The following is the programme of the evening’s entertainment- [He then outlined a varied programme of music, poetry, readings and song, some serious, some causing great merriment. All was well received, many with encores. Performers included Miss Morecraft, apparently the first lady.].  The National Anthem, sung by the audience, brought the proceedings to a close.

Buckingham Advertiser, 3 Nov

The fourth of this series of readings was held in the Boys’ School Room, on the 29th inst., J. Denne, Esq., in the chair, who in an introductory address said- “Mr. President, Vice-President, Ladies, and Gentlemen, the several worthy friends who have on former occasions officiated as chairmen of the Winslow Penny Readings, have so ably and so efficiently discharged the responsible duties of their position, that it appears to me that there is but little of the instructive or amusing left for their successors to comment or enlarge upon, still I cannot but feel that I possess at least one advantage over my predecessors, of which I am not a little proud – that of having the pleasing privilege of introducing to your notice the first ladies who have consented to lend their vocal aid for your gratification.  If the very laudable example thus set, the fair sect [sic] should prove the means of inciting others to be equally obliging, the ladies in question will have cause to congratulate themselves on the courage and good feeling which urged them to contribute to our enjoyment on this occasion.  There is yet another pleasing feature to this evening’s prospectus – a very young lady is about to execute a piece on the piano, an effort which will, I hope and trust court emulation amongst the juvenile pianists of Winslow.  The Hon. Sec. has catered, as usual, with untiring zeal in your behalf, as will be seen by a perusal of the highly satisfactory programme of this evening’s entertainment.  I will not trespass upon your time further than to add that I trust the object of these meetings will be manifestly carried out on this occasion, and that at the close of the entertainment you will retire to your several homes fully and pleasantly convinced that such gatherings as the present – while they bring closer together – are as intellectually agreeable in their character as they are edifying and instructive in their nature and intention.  [The programme followed, a mixture of recitations, songs, readings and piano solos, finishing with the National Anthem. The young lady at the piano was Miss Dockray.]  The meeting passed off well, with the exception of the rather uncouth behaviour of the door keeper; it is time that a more gentlemanly man was installed in office.

The final sentence of the report led to much controversy.

Bicester Herald, 9 Nov

To the Editor of the Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, and Northamptonshire Courier
  SIR,- Allow me to present to your readers as an antidote to the reflection cast upon our doorkeeper by your reporter, on the 3rd of November, the following resolution, which was passed by the last full meeting of the Winslow Penny Reading Committee, “That this meeting passes a vote of censure on Mr. Jones for his conduct at the last Penny Readings, and for the last clause of his report the same.”
  We cannot be too careful how we cast reflections on respectable individuals, and I trust that this lesson will not be lost on any person given to this unfortunate habit.
                                                     I am, Sir, Yours, &c.,
                                                              INTERESTED OBSERVER
Winslow, November 7th, 1866.

Buckingham Advertiser, 10 Nov

To the Editor of the Buckingham Advertiser.
  SIR,- Permit me to inform your numerous readers, what the regularly constituted authorities think of the somewhat unfair report of certain proceedings at our last Penny Readings, which was sent to your columns on November 3.  At a full meeting of the Penny Readings’ Committee, held November 6, the following resolution was carried, with but one dissentient voice.
   “That this meeting passes a vote of censure on Mr. L. D. Jones, for his conduct at the last Penny Readings, and for the concluding part of the report of the same.”
  Now, Sir, knowing the high character for probity and justice which your paper has always borne, I can only suppose that the report alluded to was published in your columns in ignorance of the true circumstances of the case, and a misplaced confidence in the propriety of feeling possessed by “Our late Reporter.”
  Apologising for having thus occupied your space,
                                                       I am, Sir, yours, &c.,
Winslow, Nov.7.

Oxford Chronicle, 1 Dec

The sixth of the popular entertainments took place at Winslow, on Monday evening last.  The chair was occupied by Mr. W. H. Trench [=French], who gave suitable opening address.  The programme, an excellent one, was very well carried out, the only mishaps being the accidental extinction of the gas lights some three or four times.  Even this however seemed to delight the gamins in the back seats, who did not fail during the lack of lights to enliven the audience after their own particular fashion.

Oxford Chronicle, 15 Dec

The seventh of these series took place in the Boys’ Schoolroom, on the 10th instant.  The attendance was good, though not very numerous, in consequence, as announced, of the disturbance at the last meeting, the penny admissions being suspended for the next two readings.  It is hoped that the temporary exclusion of a certain clique will, in the future, have a salutary effect.

Bicester Herald, 18 Jan 1867

  The eighth of the series for this session took place in the Boys’ Schoolroom, Winslow, on the 15th inst., there being a small but well conducted audience present in comparison to some of the previous meetings.  Mr. Hathaway as chairman, most ably fulfilled his duties, and in his introductory remarks said- Ladies and Gentlemen - I have great pleasure in taking the chair this evening - being our first meeting in the new year.- I hope this year will be productive of much greater gratification to us than the past has been, that this severe frost or some more kindly influence may clear away the clouds that have lowered over us during the past year and I hope our Penny Readings may continue to be well attended as I consider them to be productive of much good if properly carried out - and so long as we can prevail upon the ladies to take part in the entertainment it will uphold the high character of our meetings.  What so cheering to the mind as the part they take in it?  What so enlivening as music and a pretty song?  It is a pleasing change from the monotony of work to occasionally enjoy an hour’s harmless amusement.  I am glad the penny tickets are again issued, and hope at our next meeting to see the room full.  I have now the pleasure of calling on Mr. Young for a solo, on the piano.

Bicester Herald, 8 Feb

  The ninth of the series of Penny Readings at Winslow took place in the School-room, on the 28th of Jan.  Mr. W. Neal was chairman.  In opening the business of the evening he observed,
  Ladies and Gentlemen - In consenting to occupy the chair this evening I am sure you do not expect an address from me on the objects of penny readings - that you must have had ad nauseum [sic].  I must apologise to you for not being able to fill it efficiently, and when I tell you I do not know a note of music, you will see I am out of place here, but still I may inform you that I have often to put a bar to music. - (Laughter.)  I cannot compare with that ubiquitous individual the admirable Crickton [sic], who, whatever he undertook, did admirably, hence his name.  I think you will agree with me that the acting committee deserve great praise for the admirable manner in which they carried out that great Ciceronian maxim in combining the suaviter in modo with the fortiler in re.  I allude in the first instance to the withdrawal of the penny tickets - for it would not be permitted that a few ill-behaved obstreperous individuals should mar or spoil the enjoyment of all, (hear hear) - but having quelled it, as I hope, effectually, they have graciously permitted the issue of a hundred penny tickets for to-night. - (Applause.)  I am sorry that they should have been obliged to punish so many for the follies of a few; that I think maybe obviated for the future by publishing their names, and making a rule that they shall not be admitted again even if they get tickets, until they apologise for the past and promise not to offend for the future.  I am sorry to be obliged to mention one circumstance, it is that Mr. Walker [the Baptist minister] has chosen to give his lecture on the same evening as our penny readings, for it seems to clash one against the other in our small place, it seems to try to create two parties, for I believe there are some of his hearers who would have liked to have been here, and probably some of ours who would have liked to have heard his talented lecture.  I heard it said that our readings have been condemned or anathematised from the Tabernacle pulpit, as improper, sinful, or what not, and that his lecture is held on this evening to keep his congregation away.  I think our main objects taught are the same - to combine instruction with amusement, in fact I can give you a pulpit anecdote of his great pastor, Mr. Spurgeon, which will fairly compare with anything that may have been uttered here. [A lengthy story followed.]

Bicester Herald, 22 Feb

  The tenth of the series of Penny Readings at Winslow was given on the 11th instant at the Boys’ School Room.  Mr. J. Grace in the chair, who in the discharge of his office had frequently to call the penny end of the audience to order, and said he supposed the ultimatum would be the entire stoppage of the issue of penny tickets.

Penny readings, 1867-68

Despite the disruptions, a second series of Penny Readings was organised.

Buckingham Express, 9 Nov 1867

  The first of the second series of “Readings” for the present season took place on Monday evening at the Boys’ National School Room, when a numerous audience was present.
  The chair was taken by Dr. Boisragon, who, in a highly interesting and jocular address, put forth to the company the plan on which the present readings were based, and mentioned the names of those who had given their kind assistance in getting them up, and asked the audience to show their approval of the same by acclamation.  He stated the present reading differed somewhat, as regards management from last year.  They consisted of a committee of three viz., Messrs. M. Lowndes A. Barton, and J. King, jun., a president, (to which position he had again been elected), and the duties of secretary and treasurer had been united, and they would be pleased to hear it was their active and intelligent friend, T. P. Willis, Esq.  The committee were empowered to nominate a chairman for each evening, who would be solely responsible for the getting up of the programme.  He then alluded to many alterations that had been made by the committee and concluded his address, (which we are sorry our space will not allow us to give in full) by stating that the committee had made arrangements by which he hoped better order would be observed.  The worthy doctor resumed his seat amidst loud applause.
  The programme, perhaps was not quite so good as might have been expected for an opening night but we have much pleasure in stating that it proved to be much better than we anticipated.  It is not our intention to single out any individual as regards the expectation of the piece chosen, suffice it to say each one did their best to give satisfaction.
  [The programme followed. The performers, all male, were H. Young, Mr East, J.M. Smith, W.H. French, William Butcher, Mr ?Hepsley, Dr Boisragon, George Ingram, T.W. Pankhurst, J. King.]
  The manner in which the proceedings were conducted throughout reflected the highest credit upon the chairman and committee, but the same cannot be said of the whole of the audience.  Some boys in the back seats had once or twice to be cautioned by those in management, and we only hope the arrangements of the committee will be strictly carried out.

Bicester Herald, 29 November

The second of this series of readings at Winslow came off on Monday evening, the 18th inst., at the National School-room.  The room was crowded, several persons being unable to obtain sitting accommodation.  Mr. W. H. French occupied the chair.  The programme passed off exceedingly well, every song that was given being vociferously encored.  We regret to have again to mention the annoyance caused by some in the back seats at times.  The interruption caused by unseemly laughter did not at all redound to the credit of some, whose common sense or even natural feeling should have protected them from falling into the most egregious error of mistaking the beautiful pathos of Shakespeare for comedy and farce.
  [The programme followed, concluding with “God save the Queen”. The series continued, apparently without incident, until April 1868.]

Buckingham Advertiser, 11 April 1868

  This most successful series of readings was concluded on Monday evening last in the boys’ school-room.  We have briefly noticed each reading as they have taken place, and can say, with confidence, that they would vie with those of towns of a much larger population.  The order and management has been all that could be desired, and reflects the greatest credit upon the committee, and especially on the hon. secretary, F. P. [=T.P.] Willis, Esq.  Should the readings be continued another winter, we hope they may go off with that spirit which characterised those just concluded; we can hardly expect them superior.  On the present occasion the chair was taken by the president, Dr. Boisragon who, before commencing the programme of the evening made the following neat speech:- [omitted]

Penny readings, 1868-69

Despite Dr Boisragon's departure there was a third series of readings.

Buckingham Advertiser, 19 Dec 1868

  PENNY READINGS.- On Monday evening last the fourth of the present series of readings took place in the Boys’ School-room, which was crowded in every part by a very attentive audience.  The programme for the occasion was an excellent one, and included some very laughable and interesting readings.  The songs were well sung, and with one exception were loudly encored.  The engagement of Mr. Joe Plant, of Wolverton, was an attractive feature in the programme, his songs causing much amusement, putting the risible faculties of those present considerably to the test.  The chair was taken by the indefatigable hon. secretary, T. P. Willis, Esq., to whose exertions the success of the readings is in a great measure indebted.  [The programme then followed and the evening concluded with “God save the Queen.”]

Buckingham Advertiser, 30 Jan 1869

On Monday evening last the seventh of the present series of readings took place at the Boys’ School-room.  The attendance was not so large as on previous occasions, the programme as a whole not being equal to those which had preceded it.  The chair was taken by Mr. Wm. Neal.  We may well congratulate the inhabitants of Winslow and the neighbourhood on the superior class of entertainments which each chairman has endeavoured to place before them for their appreciation, and the marked manner in which they have been received, during the present, and also those series of the two preceding winters.  We have heard it said, by strangers as well as our own townspeople, that the class of programmes performed in our little school-room have in every respect been superior to those of many towns with a much larger population.
We do not wish to brand that of Monday last as such an indifferent one, but think it would have been wise had one reading been omitted, that of Mr. Gilbert, who selected some “Passages from the Speeches of the Right Hon. John Bright,” and it became evident as he proceeded that the audience entertained the same opinion, for a great hissing and stamping of feet ensued, rendering it impossible for the reader to proceed: after the noise had somewhat subsided, he again commenced, but the audience began the stamping of feet, &c., with more energy than before, and the hon. secretary, T. P. Willis, Esq., stepped upon the platform, and stated that the reading had taken place entirely without the sanction of the committee, and the chairman had informed them positively that nothing of a political nature would be entertained in the reading.
  Mr. Gilbert said he did not consider his reading had the slightest political tendency, and vainly endeavoured to continue, but found the audience generally were not disposed to listen, and ultimately withdrew amidst great confusion.
  We certainly think one word of praise is due to Mr. Gilbert, he having found that the feeling was so strongly against his reading, good humouredly volunteered to sing a song instead of continuing, which announcement was received with loud applause, he then sang “John Brown,” in which he was loudly encored; by the unanimous manner in which Mr. Gilbert was received when announced he would oblige with a song, it could easily be seen that it was from no disrespect to the reader that the disturbance had taken place, but the introducing of such tender subjects at the readings, where political and religious matters are so strictly prohibited.  With this exception the…programme was very well carried out. [It ended with] God Save the Queen.

John Bright (1811-79) was a leading Radical. It's not known who the reporter was (possibly Dr Newham) but he provoked an indignant response from a Winslow Radical. "Mr C. Gilbert" had been taking part in the penny readings since early January. He might be Charles Robert Gilbert who was the nephew of Miss Elizabeth Monk, retired grocer in the Market Square, in which case he was aged 18 and became a Cambridge undergraduate in 1870, going on to a career as a schoolmaster and clergyman.

Buckingham Advertiser, 6 Feb 1869

To the Editor of the Buckinghamshire Advertiser.
  SIR,- As a constant reader of your paper, permit me to express my surprise at the extraordinary and unfair report of our last Penny Readings.  Your reporter says “it would have been wise for Mr. Gilbert’s reading to have been omitted,” and for anything that appears to be his only reason Mr. Bright is the author of it.  Now as we Winslow folk have no wish to be held up to the ridicule of the whole neighbourhood as such a stupid set that we stamp down a gentleman, not because his reading is objectionable in itself, but because it is the production of a certain public man, permit me to give your readers the facts of the case.  To begin with, the reading in question was not political, its subject was “The Horrors of Slavery,” an institution which every Englishman should detest with his whole soul, and I have been assured by gentlemen who were present, and gentlemen of Conservative views, that not a word would have been said against the piece if the name had been suppressed.  And in the second place, the head and front of this great hissing and stamping of feet, on which your reporter so willingly dilates with more than his usual energy (he even specifies the exact member employed lest your readers should erroneously suppose that these ardent partizans stamped with their noses and elbows) is this: A few persons in the body of the room whose political feelings, for the time, ran ahead of their good sense, led on by parties in the front seats, who should have set them a better example, and who, I am sure, will on sober reflection regret their disorderly conduct, and, assisted by the party “always ready for fun,” succeeded for the nonce in turning the room into a bear garden, so that the reader could not continue his piece.  The main body of the audience wished for the reading to proceed, if from no other motive, out of common courtesy to the reader, who appeared, as he had done before, at considerable inconvenience, and who has certainly never introduced anything objectionable, and it is only through their forbearance and patience that a regular row had not ensued, ended by the summary ejectment of the malcontents.
  I only hope that this forbearance will be kept in practice, for a similar exhibition of ill-feeling on the other side would bring our agreeable and entertaining readings to a close.
                                                      Yours respectfully,
                                                                   A WINSLOW TOWNSMAN.
February 13, 1869.

This letter appeared in most of the local papers, and the Bicester Herald, by printing a message to W.H.F. about underpaid postage, revealed that it was from W.H. French."The Reporter" had a response printed in the Buckingham Advertiser the following week which didn't add to the debate.

Oxford Chronicle, 13 Feb 1869

  PENNY READINGS.- The eight of the series of Readings took place on Monday last, at the Boys’ School.  This attendance was not so large as on many other occasions, in consequence, no doubt, of the roughness of the weather.  The chair was taken by Mr. John King, jun.  The readings and songs were very well given, and called forth loud applause from the audience.  The following was the programme:- Piano, duet in D, Misses C. and S. King; reading, selection from “Verdant Green” (Bede), Mr. Linnell; song, “Forget-me-not” (Ganz), Dr. Newham; reading, “Lochinvar” (Scott), Mr. J. Grace; quartet, instrumental, “The Helena Valse,” Messrs. Sellar, Jennings, Young, and Bond; song, “The Red, White, and Blue” (Davenport), Mr. W. Cooper; reading, “A Scene from Adam Bede” (Eliot), Mr. Midgley; solo, piano, “Sparkling Cascades” (Williams), Miss C. King; song, “The Wolf” (Shield), Mr. J. Jennings; reading, “The Witch’s Frolic” (Barham), Mr. E. Baylis; song, “Hearts of Oak” (Boyce), Mr. T. W. Pankhurst; song, “Pretty Little Flora” (Leybourne), Mr. G. Belgrove; reading, selection from “Artemus Ward,” Mr. T. Morecraft; song, Dr. Newham; “God Save the Queen.”  At the conclusion of the programme, the Chairman said he was requested by the committee to read the following resolution, passed at a committee meeting held on the 1st of Feb.- “The committee are unanimously of the opinion that the Chariman on the last occasion should not have allowed Mr. Gilbert’s political reading, and that it was contrary to their rules and without their sanction, and they deeply regret the unpleasantness which it caused.”

Buckingham Advertiser, 13 March 1869

To the Editor of the Buckingham Advertiser,
  SIR,- “One law, alike for rich and poor,” is, or should be the boast of every true Englishman, but the Committee of Management of the Winslow Penny Readings do not appear to recognise this salutary rule, if Monday evening last may be taken as a specimen.
  I do not hesitate to say that if anybody in the back seats had made such a noise as was made in the front seats, by two or three persons, whom, by courtesy, I suppose, I ought to call “gentlemen,” the police would instantly have been requested to remove the offenders from the room, and rightly so.
  I suppose there were people present able to appreciate Lord Byron’s magnificent poem  ”The Dream;” and, if there were present those who both lacked ability to understand such poetry, and sense to hide their ignorance, they ought not, at least, to have been allowed either to disturb those who could enjoy it, or to insult the reader, as was the case on this occasion.  Let us hope for the future no deference will be paid to the social position of offenders.
        I am, Sir, yours very respectfully,
                           ONE OF THE AUDIENCE.
March 9, 1869.

"One of the Audience" sounds remarkably like "A Winslow Townsman".

Buckingham Advertiser, 27 March 1869

  PENNY READINGS.- On Monday evening last the eleventh of the present series of entertainments took place at the Boys’ School Room, which was, shortly after the opening, crowded in every part.  The programme placed before the public was good in every respect, the principal attraction being the Oxford Glee Party, whom, it is almost needless for us to say, rivetted the attention of the audience with their remarkable execution of the glees and solos allotted to them, the precision and the beautiful harmony being particularly noticeable.  The programme was a lengthy one, both readers and singers gaining loud applause by their able rendering of their different pieces.  The chair on the occasion was taken by Mr. Josiah Smith, who, before commencing the ... programme gave a brief and suitable address.
  [The performers included the following:- The Misses Barton, Mr. T. Smith, Mr.Thornton, Mr. Allmann, Mr. Ramsbottom, Mr. J. Hunt, The Glee Party, Dr. Newham, Mr. Midgley.   The programme concluded with “God Save the Queen”.]

Buckingham Advertiser, 3 April 1869

  On Monday evening last the series of entertainments which have been so well and energetically carried out during the winter months by the committee were brought to a most encouraging and satisfactory conclusion.  The chair on this occasion was taken by W. Selby Lowndes, Esq.  Before the commencement of the programme the room was crowded in every part, the special attraction being the engagement of Mr. Joe Plant, the comique, of Wolverton, who, by his singing and eccentricities gained considerable favour; also the singing of Mr. Hitchcock gave general satisfaction.  During the series just closed, programme after programme have been well selected, and entertainments (to which many of high pretentions, and demanding large sums for admittance were much inferior) have been fortnightly presented to the public for an almost nominal sum, and it has been a noticeable circumstance that amusement and instruction have been judiciously blended, and we are pleased to add that the attendance has been sufficient throughout to show that the efforts of those who have catered so well for amusement have been appreciated.  At the conclusion of the… programme the chairman proposed a vote of thanks to those who had so kindly assisted during the season, to the committee, and the indefatigable secretary, T. P. Willis, Esq., to whom three hearty cheers were given.
  [The following took part in the readings: Mr. Sellar, Mr. Jennings, Mr. H Young, Mr. G. Ingram, Mr. Midgby [=Midgley], Mr. Hitchcock, Rev. J. W. Heyward, Mr. Plant, Mr. East, Mr. Grace.  The evening concluded with “God save the Queen”.]

Penny readings, 1870-71

The readings restarted after a year's break but didn't get as much coverage in the local press.

Bucks Herald, 24 Dec 1870

  PENNY READINGS.- The first of the fourth series of readings was commenced on Monday evening last.  John Denne, Esq., in the chair.  The entertainment was a very interesting one, the readings, singing, and the recitations alike giving satisfaction to a goodly number of listeners.  It was the first entertainment, and there were no lady performers, but, we hope, on a future occasion the list will contain the names of some of our lady friends.  The proceeds of the series of entertainments are to be given to aid the funds of the cricket club.

Buckingham Express, 11 March 1871

PENNY READINGS.   These readings were resumed on Monday evening, March 6th, when the School-room was crowded to excess.  Mr. A. Barton, occupied the chair.  The programme was an excellent one, and the people must have anticipated from the manner in which they came forward to support the promoters of the entertainment.  The proceedings opened with an overture by Mr. Young, who has rendered a good service throughout the whole series of readings, and who did not fail to retain his popularity, on this occasion.  The now popular song “Watch by the Rhine,” was exceedingly well given by Mr. Grosse, and vociferously encored, in answer to which, he sang “A. B. C.” in a manner which was alike creditable to him and to the piece, and kept the room in a roar, especially when giving the chorus.  A reading “Melting moments,” by Mr. Midgely [sic] came next, and to say the least of it, the piece was thoroughly well read, and only goes further than ever to convince us, that Mr. Midgely possesses all the advantages of a good reader....

Buckingham Express, 25 March 1871

  PENNY READINGS.- The last entertainment of the season, was given in the School room, on Monday evening, March 20th.  Mr. G. Hawley, the Secretary, occupied the chair.  There was a long programme to be got through on the occasion, but owing to various causes, several of the performers did not make their appearance.  The ladies had their share of work and they did it in an excellent manner, more especially Miss Viccars and Miss Simmons [?Marianne Simmons from Brook Hall School, aged 16].  The first named lady singing very nicely indeed.  The reading of Messrs. Midgley, French and J. Hawley, was first rate.  There is one thing which should not pass unnoticed, viz: the noise which was made by several persons during the performances of the various ladies and gentlemen.  On more than one occasion did the chairman have to call for order, and not without cause.  If these readings should be resumed next season, we hope there will be a reformation in this direction, especially amongst those who ought to know better.

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Copyright 15 July, 2020