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Tale of Women’s Land Army link to Clumber Park will be brought to life in play penned by short story winner

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Visitors to Clumber Park’s Walled Kitchen Garden will be transported back to 1917 thanks to a promenade theatre performance that will bring to life untold stories of the garden’s link to the Women’s Land Army.

On Sunday May 20, the Walled Kitchen Garden will host a series of performances - a dramatisation of last year’s North Nottinghamshire Short Story winner ‘Bonnets to Breeches’ – a tale inspired by members of the Women’s Land Army who lovingly tended to the gardens during World War One.

Penned by first-time author Elizabeth Carney-Marsh, Bonnets to Breeches tells the story of Clara Moon who against her parent’s wishes, feels compelled to do her bit for King and Country as bombs rain down on her home in the East End of London.

Secretly, she joins the Women’s Land Army and travels to North Nottinghamshire and Clumber Park where her adventures as a Land Girl begin.

What follows is a journey inspired by legends of the real Land Girls who dug, ploughed and worked the fields during the most testing of times.

Talking about her winning story, Carney-Marsh said; “It was my first attempt at writing and was born from a desire to tell the stories that have otherwise been lost throughout the years.

“The idea came from my time volunteering in The Walled Kitchen Garden at Clumber Park and hearing the wonderful stories about Land Girls who had travelled from all corners of the country to do their bit.

“Through conversations and research about not only the estate but the Women’s Land Army, I was able to form a historically accurate backdrop in which to place my fictional characters.”

These fictional characters will now be brought to life through performances that will not only tell Clara Moon’s story, but also share the stories of the real Women’s Land Army who were stationed at Clumber during the first and second World Wars.

Carney-Marsh added: “The stories of the Land Girls are in real danger of being lost forever.

“The Women’s Land Army was formed 100 years ago in 1917 and these women were trail blazers and explorers of their time.”

“These performances will shine a light on the hugely important contributions they made to the war efforts and I hope that as many people can join us on Sunday, May 20 to hear their story.”

Visitors to Clumber Park can experience Bonnets to Breeches by being part of the promenade theatre piece, produced by Talegate Theatre; learn about the work of the Women’s Land Army through British Pathe News Films, and be inspired by a talk from Women’s Land Army Historian Cherish Watton.

A total of four performances will take place between 11.45am and 3.45pm with an opportunity to meet the author.

As part of many other events on the day, visitors will be able to have a go at being a Land Girl and ‘dig for victory’ with authentic tools that would have been used back in 1917. If you do a good job you’ll also be issued with a Women’s Land Army Certificate of Proficiency.

Councillor Jo White, cabinet member for economic development, said: “This promises to be a fantastic event and will showcase the historical contributions that North Nottinghamshire has made to the Women’s Land Army.

“I’m thrilled that Bassetlaw District Council and our partners National Trust and Talegate Theatre are able to help bring Elizabeth’s story Bonnets to Breeches to life and, through the North Notts Short Story Competition, are able to show what talented writers we have in the region.”

This is a free ticketed event and tickets can be reserved at www.nationaltrust.org.uk/clumber-park/whats-on.

Normal entrance fee to Clumber Park applies for non-members of the National Trust.

More details are available at www.bassetlaw.gov.uk or on the Council’s Facebook and Twitter accounts.

If members of the public would like to be involved in the performance or other activities on the day, there are a number of volunteer opportunities available through the National Trust.