An astounding day is planned at High House

By Neil Speight

15th Sep 2022 | Local News

Trust chairman Mike Ostler will be appearing as Robert Clayton, one time owner of High House, at the event.
Trust chairman Mike Ostler will be appearing as Robert Clayton, one time owner of High House, at the event.

THIS weekend will bring a major event in the borough's heritage calendar - and it promises to be 'Astounding'.

The High House Community Group's latest Open Day at the High House Purfleet-on-Thames venue on Saturday is themed theme of the event is 'Astounding Inventions'. It will be open from 10am to 5pm.

High House is the collective name for a group of historic buildings in Purfleet, accessed via Velacott Road (off London Road). The site is now incorporated with High House Production Park which includes the Royal Opera House Thurrock, a Costume Centre, the Backstage Centre housing a National Skills Academy and part of South East Essex University, an Education Office, a Music Centre and High House Barns Conference and Wedding Venue. 

The historic buildings have stood for more than 450 years. From the 16th Century up until as recently as 1995, it was a working farm, producing crops of wheat, marrows, onions, and pumpkins. At one time it was also a working vineyard.

There has always been a need for the owners and tenants of the House to produce crops, grow food, make clothes and furniture in order to sustain the families and workers who occupied the site. With this in mind the Community Group have invited along people who reflect this need to use not so much "Astounding Inventions", but rather the small, vital ones that helped this self sufficiency through the years.

One of the organisers is Madeleine Emmerson who spoke about plans for the event, which are going ahead after the group gave careful consideration to the option of postponing in the wake of the death of HM Queen Elizabeth. It was felt it was an event the Queen would have approved of and is a tribute to part of her legacy.

She said: "We have stalls covering crochet, ceramics, garden ornaments made from recycled materials and a professional gardener who can give you advice and tips. Two toy stalls for the kiddies who will also have some colouring in sheets and word searches to keep them busy, historical toys to try out. There will be historical costumes to try on and take a selfie.

"There are representatives from several local organisations - the Camera Club and Thurrock Artists; Fostering Services, Safer Roads, CVS, Local History Museum. An artist selling her paintings and Thurrock Acorns Amateur Radio Club demonstrating the importance of radio communications throughout the world, including how to send a message via Morse Code.

"We have use of the west barn for some of the stalls and displays, pride of place will be Thurrock Lacemakers and our committee member Jayne who will of course be in Tudor costume to match the Tudor biscuits she will be baking. The east barn will be reserved in case of bad weather and extra space if needed.

"Now the site is also home to the Royal Opera House Workshop, the Costume and Backstage Centres, Artists Studios, a Music Hub and South Essex College Thurrock Campus. All of these continue the tradition of utilising amazing inventions and we are delighted that some of the personnel and students from the Backstage Centre are joining us in the South Courtyard where the cafe will be open for drinks and snacks."

As with all Heritage Open Day events, entrance is free, if you wish to donate though - there will be a couple of buckets at hand!

Anyone travelled by car is asked to use public car park accessed from London Road. Disabled car parking is at the top of the drive. Do not use the car park accessed from Artisan Way, this is reserved for organisers and staff. The front meadow is used for overflow parking so there is plenty of space. And organisers ask that people do not park on the pavement and drive because of near neighbours. There is a private road on site and there is no parking, no entry to Dovecote Barns.


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