Shakespeare Rally

Heather MacGregor recounts the full catalogue of the Play Series.

The club started in 1976 as a local club. There were several rallymen in the club and two rallies were held which neither Paul or I attended. I had the idea of starting a rally with the name of one of the plays every year.We started with The Winter's Tale in January 1979, held in Blockley near the Fosse Way.

Next came The Comedy of Errors which was held at the same site in the summer (September) 1979.

Paul Mullis, Graham Butler and Alan Gilmore at Henry IV, 1993
Heather MacGregor

We found a new site for the next ones - Kempsey Common, out towards Worcester, where the pub we used was The Fruiterers Arms. The common was rich in wild fruit and as we held the rallies in late September there was plenty of fruit to be had for sloe gin, blackberry pies and all sorts of homemade delights. The first rally here was Macbeth in 1980, followed by Hamlet in 1981. This was a well-attended rally but the weather was awful and it blew a gale Saturday night. The site was quite exposed and more than a few lost their tents that night.

The Tempest followed in 1982, a warm and sunny weekend.

Henry V in 1983.

Paul and I were enjoying this and I was having fun designing the badges, a different one for each rally.

Mike Bouget, Fred Hill, John Andrews and Micky Sturgess
Heather MacGregor

We realised we would never come to the end unless we held a winter rally as well so ...

The first weekend of January 1984 saw Twelfth Night, held in the Fruiterers beer garden ...

Keith Jackson and Heather MacGregor in the control tent
Heather MacGregor

Richard III in the September of 1984 was our last at this site, the farmer was asking too much for the field and the pub was not secure.

We now moved back to another field in Blockley for January 1985 where we held Midsummer Night's Dream. This was a very frosty weekend but great fun - the village being on a hill, you came out of the pub and it was only with great difficulty you stopped yourself sliding down the street on the ice. Of course some didn't even try to stop themselves!

Now we moved over to Bloxham where the landlord of the Horse and Hounds looked after us for some years. He also owned the field we used which was a couple of hundred yards from the pub, nice flat field.

Graham and Elaine Butler putting their tent up at Cymbeline in 1994. Held behind the Gaydon Inn.
Heather MacGregor

Our September rally in 1985 was Julius Caesar.

Now, Paul and I lived quite a way from here and we felt that we would like to have our winter rally closer to home. We found a good site at the Gaydon Arms which was 3 miles from home. Our first here was Measure for Measure in 1986 and we went back to Bloxham in September for Romeo and Juliet.

In 1987 we had As You Like It in January at Gaydon and King Lear at Bloxham Gaydon in September.

King Lear, 87. Paul, the Beetroot and Florence and the control tent.
Heather MacGregor

Then 1988 saw The Merchant of Venice and Othello.

Geoff Kennet, Steve Cawthorne and Chris Egan.
Heather MacGregor

Next 1989 Antony & Cleopatra and Troilus and Cressida.

By this time I had left Warwickshire and married Keith in Somerset but the three of us carried on doing the rallies.

Most of the Shakespeare club were not really interested in rallies but Dave Cooper and Maggie helped us out a lot.

In 1990 The Taming of the Shrew was followed by Pericles Prince of Tyre but I think the September rally was held at The Four Alls near Welford-on-Avon. The Bloxham landlord had just got too greedy with beer prices and field hire.

Margaret and Fred Flitney with their outfit and Geoff Kennet
Heather MacGregor

Things went on as before - Gaydon for January and The Four Alls for September.

In 1991 we held Much Ado About Nothing then Coriolanus and 1992 saw King John and Love's Labours Lost.

My sister Fink on her 750 Kawasaki, me on the Norton and my mum (Val Cropp) on her Dneiper outfit at the Loves Labours Lost in 1992. Mum has still got that outfit but unfortunately has not used it for several years and parked it over a bramble bush. There's more bush than outfit now!
Heather MacGregor

In 1993 was Titus Andronicus and Henry IV, 1994 was Cymbeline and Two Gentlemen of Verona and 1995 we held Henry VIII (Getting close to the end now!) and Timon of Athens.

The control tent at Titus Andronicus 1993
Heather MacGregor

Richard II and The Merry Wives of Windsor were 1996. For our last winter rally we held Henry VI and went away from Gaydon. We used a small hotel near Ettington called The Houndshill.

A frosty Henry VI, Jan '97.
Heather MacGregor

For our final rally in September we were back to the Four Alls for Alls Well That Ends Well.

Paul and I were very satisfied with the rallies we did, things had changed a lot in the 17 years since we started. Paul had taken up gliding and I had moved away but we were determined to see it through. Since then there have been no more Shakespeare rallies but the Mayflower club have taken over that 'first weekend in January' slot and run their Force 10 Rally in the same area that the old Shakespeare rallies were held.

One from our last Shakespeare rally, Alls Well That Ends Well, sept 97 showing John Sewell talking to Nigel and various others including my mum and Maggie (Cooperwoman) around the control tent.
Heather MacGregor

Start of quotation The Comedy of Errors was my first rally. I went on the back of my ex husband's Moto Guzzi Mk1 Le Mans.

I attended many Shakespeare rallies in the following years including the last - All's Well That Ends Well - by now on my own bike, coincidentally also a Guzzi Mk 111 California with Watsonian sidecar.

My late husband Harold & myself both loved the Shakespeare. End of quotation

- Lys Knight

About The Badges

I designed all but half a dozen or so of these badges and I'm very proud of them.

As You Like It is a translucent finish, not a flat colour at all.

The Alls Well That Ends Well has a lot of a solid metal finish.

Keith and Paul sharing a joke at the Alls Well
Heather MacGregor

Titus Andronicus was 1½" diameter, a mistake.

Only four complete sets exist. I have two sets of the badges as when Paul Mullis died of a heart attack in 1999 I got all his badges ...

- Heather MacGregor

Start of quotation I was one of the original members in 1976. I designed the first and second badge for '76 and '77 with the hands shaking the spear. Just thought I'd mention it.

I was married to Paul Elliott. End of quotation

- Angela Elliott