On the back of this photo it has, in pencil: OXTON 1907 ‘IVANHOE’. So I had a look online and eventually, in the newspaper notices part of a genealogy site, I found this:
From: The Western Times, Friday, August 16, 1907.
AN OPEN-AIR PLAY
Adapted from Sir Walter Scott’s Novel,
WILL BE PRODUCED AT
OXTON (Weather Permitting)
AUGUST 17, 21, 22 & 24
At 2.30 p.m. each day.
ENTRANCE, one shilling; Reserved Seats, extra. Tea and light refreshments procurable in the Grounds. Conveyances will meet the 1.6 and 1.16 p.m, down, and 12.22 and 12.38 p.m. up trains at Starcross. Seats in conveyances can be booked in advance on application to Mr. E. Baker, Courtenay Arms, Starcross; Mr. D. Priest, Devon Arms, Kenton.
No admission possible after 2.30 p.m. Grounds open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. each day.
There’s more than one Oxton in England, and, before I found the news listing, I had assumed that it would have been the one in Nottinghamshire as the original story by Sir Walter Scott has Robin Hood in it. But I was wrong. It’s in the one in Devon and I think ‘The Grounds’ must have referred to the grounds of Oxton House which is a little outside of Kenton and closer to Exeter. Here, in fact:
If you click inside the view, you can click and drag and use your mouse to move inside it. So, if you want, you can explore the area and see if you can find where this production of Ivanhoe may have been photographed. I haven’t been successful with the exact location yet, but maybe you will be. Chances are that since 1907, the landscape has changed a fair bit. In 1987 there was a hurricane that felled a lot of trees in England, so maybe some in the photo are now gone.
Here’s the thing about this photo. It arrived from its Ebay seller as a faded sepia RP (Real Photograph) postcard. I was fascinated by it because it’s a medieval theme and, while I know it was a highly unromantic and bloody time in history, I’ve always had a fondness for it. (When I was eight, I was so potty about the period that I drew a coloured-pencil version of the Bayeux Tapestry to decorate my room, copied straight out of a history book! My dad climbed a ladder and stuck it on the wall above the picture rail.) But added to the medieval theme in the photo is the fact that its an Edwardian interpretation of the period. So I had to think about colours both from the accessibility of fabrics and dyes in the Edwardian era and how they would have interpreted Scott’s novel. Add to that, the fact that I’ve never read Ivanhoe all the way through… and you’ll see how difficult this was to do.
So… off I went to Project Gutenberg and downloaded a copy of the original book. And discovered that I couldn’t concentrate on reading it all. So, as I’d already done quite a bit of the colouring, I just checked on the jester’s outfit and tried to make sure that I hadn’t done anything wrong…
oh, but I had. Well, I should think nearly everything is wrong as I couldn’t find a consensus of opinion as to the royal colours of the time. Things were made worse by the fact that the Edwardians in the photo hadn’t interpreted their costumes from the orginal anyway… so I decided that the best course of action was just to go with my own interpretation.
The Jester (‘Wamba, the son of Witless’), in the book, wears a purple jacket, a red cloak with a yellow interior, yellow and red leggings, and more bells than this one has. This one hasn’t a cloak at all and I thought if I made his jacket purple that he’d fade into obscurity. So I gave him a red jacket and a red and yellow bi-coloured hat. (Originally I’d done it in yellow, but added the red side as an afterthought.)
The seated royal is meant to be Prince John who, as we know, was bad. (As an aside, and I think as it’s my blog, I’m entitled to one, one of my favourite children’s poems is King John’s Christmas. Yes, I know it’s not yet Christmas but do listen to it, it’s great fun… unlike the real King John.) So, as I didn’t know his colours, I just went with the ‘gold is royal’ notion.
Difficult to know if Robin Hood is the man between the horses or the man standing at the far right of the photo, or someone else entirely. By the way, I think the latter – the man at the right – has his script tucked into his belt!
The others, well… I’ve used a bit of….um no…. a lot of poetic licence.
I’d still like to get the royal colours right so if anyone has any suggestions, they’re welcome. Also, I don’t suppose the horse should be wearing gold… is its rider not supposed to be Ivanhoe in disguise?
And… there’s more to do but hopefully what I’ve not done won’t be particularly obvious.
So that’s Ivanhoe -The Colouring!