FDS - Faringdon Follies poster

Faringdon Follies star

A celebration by Carolyn Taylor & Debbie Lock
Tuesday 12 June 2018 - Saturday 16 June 2018
Buscot Park Theatre, Lechlade Road, Buscot SN7 8BU
Directed by Debbie Lock & Carolyn Taylor
Produced by Gary Field

Performances start 7:30 pm. Doors open 30 minutes earlier.
Tickets: £10. No concessions. A drink is included.
Tickets were available from our Online Box Office and The Gifted Magpie, 6 London Street, Faringdon.
If you would like to bring a picnic Buscot Park will be open to theatre-goers from 6:30pm. The performance on the 12th is for charity and by invitation only.


Faringdon Follies 2018 Certificatestar Winner of NODA award ‘The Constance Power Trophy of Encouragement 2019’. For recognition of theatrical endeavour – doing something avant-garde.

800 years ago, in 1218, Faringdon received its Market Charter, from Henry III, and became a Market Town. 70 years ago, in 1948, Faringdon Dramatic Society was founded.

FDS wanted to celebrate both these events but how, we wondered, should we go about it? We’re a drama group, not an historical society and our audiences want to see entertainment, not come to a lecture. How does a drama group put on a show? Perhaps it would be interesting to show our audience what goes on backstage as well as in front of the curtain.

So we decided to tell the story of how we developed this production, one that celebrates Faringdon past and present, through songs, sketches, poems and short plays, as well as some wonderful photographs and film of our lovely home town. “Faringdon Follies” is the resulting show and of course, where could be better than Lord Faringdon’s own theatre in Buscot Park to perform it!

The following material is featured in the production:

  • Colonel Lisle’s Decision a short melodrama by Peter Webster, being a fictional incident in the English Civil War. The date is April 30th 1645, the day after Cromwell’s failed assault on Faringdon House! – visit Peter’s website for details.
  • The Ballad of Hampden Pye by Ian Bateman – A local folklore ghost story from Faringdon. The story is based on historically accurate characters, but over the years has become embellished. The church at Faringdon had its tower blown off by cannon fire in the Civil War, and this has somehow got mixed up with the fate of Hampden Pye! – see video.
  • Market Charter Rap – ‘This is our town’ – see video.
  • In the Presence of the Lord (excerpt) by Bob Canning.
  • Pigeons In The Park – adapted from a Tom Lehrer song by Duncan Sinclair.
  • Memories of The Folly – Readings by Peter Webster, Val Hughes, Sjoerd Vogt, Tom Sutton, Jane Rennells.
  • Faringdon Folly Film by Tom Woodward – Faringdon Folly was built for the extravagant Lord Berners in 1935 and stands 140 feet tall. When questioned about the point of the tower by the planning subcommittee, Berners famously remarked “the great point of the tower is that it will be entirely useless!” – see video.

Faringdon’s Market Charter – On 7th March 1218 during the reign of Henry III, the Shire of Berkshire was ordered to ensure that the market in Ferendun be henceforth held on Mondays. A market was probably held previously on Sundays and it was later changed in 1313 by another royal charter to Tuesdays. Faringdon was transferred from Berkshire to Oxfordshire in 1974.

Derivation of the name Faringdon – Around  550 BC – 550 AD various peoples (Celts, Romans, Saxons from north Germany then probably a few Danish Vikings) came to these islands and worked there way up the River Thames and the ancient Ridgeway track, building and extending hill forts on the dunes/downs south of the river. (Celtic/Gaelic dùn meaning ‘hill or hill fort’). Settlements developed around the freshwater springs at their base. Among them were those along the edge of the ‘Vale of the White Horse’ that were eventually given descriptive Anglo-Saxon names like ‘Swine dune’ (Swindon), ‘Blunt’s dune’ (Blunsdon) and ‘Fern dune’ (Faringdon). Say the latter like a Scot with a rolling Celtic/Gaelic ‘r’ – ‘fair-ren-duon‘ and you can see where we are going with this.

The name ‘Fearndune‘ (sometimes written ‘Faerndun‘) first appears written down in the Saxon Chronicles referring to the death of the King of the Anglo-Saxons, Edward the Elder in 924 AD, around the time when England was being united into a single kingdom. It also states that it was in Mercia so probably not actually this town as once believed – it being only just over the border into Wessex. But it does remain as the most likely origin of this and similarly named towns. The first known recording of the town’s name was as ‘Ferendone’ (Domesday Book 1086). The spelling and pronunciation has evolved over the years, becoming ‘Ferendun’, ‘Farendon’, ‘Chepyng (Market) Farendon’ (1218), ‘Faryndon’ (1327) and then almost finally ‘Chepyngfaryngdon‘ or ‘Faryngdon’ (1501). The current spelling appears on old maps of the area (1753/1761) but sometimes with a double ‘r’. It may be interesting to note that the nearby homestead/hamlet of ‘Fernham’ has remained practically unchanged.

Faringdon Dramatic Society – Way back in 1948, Bill Reeves ran an evening class which proved popular and developed into ‘Play Reading’ sessions … read more history of FDS.

faringdon-follies-2018-1 faringdon-follies-2018-2 faringdon-follies-2018-3 faringdon-follies-2018-4 faringdon-follies-2018-5faringdon-follies-2018-7faringdon-follies-2018-6
The cast

Gary Bates on audio-visual

5 shows were performed over 5 days.