Henrietta Fiddian-Green organises animals in a bonanza nativity play, which draws thousands to the Surrey Hills, as she explains to Martha Terry
For nine days before Christmas we run nativity plays in a barn, set up like Jesus’s stable, on the Wintershall estate in Surrey. It’s spectacular, starting with flares leading up the hill from the car park, and Mary and Joseph appearing on a donkey, the three kings on horseback. There’s sometimes a cow with a calf, lambs in the audience and chickens, too. People can touch and smell the stable scene; it’s real and dramatic.
My mother, Ann Hutley, was inspired by a trip to a shrine in Medugorje, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, 35 years ago to do something with the Christian message for this country, and she decided on a nativity play. My parents started with a donkey and a few hay bales in a barn and it’s gradually grown. Now, there’s a cast of 60, and it’s always a sell-out with 600 people at each show.
My sister, Charlotte de Klee, is now the producer, while I manage the animals. We have three donkeys which I practise leading along the route in the dark because the performances are at 7.30pm. Chester’s an old favourite, he’s been doing this job for nearly 20 years, though we are training up a younger one.
You may also be interested in:
Nathan Horrocks on mixing parkour with eventing and Many Clouds’ role in the development of the JockeyCam