Blanche Parry

Book Launch - Saturday 24th November 2007

A Book Launch can be fun… it helps to bring the book to the reader’s notice and it is an occasion when people interested in the book’s theme can meet and enjoy talking about it. Obviously, arrangements have to be made to ensure the event runs smoothly. I am enormously grateful to Bacton Parochial Church Council, Logaston Press and The Friends’ of Dore Abbey for their support.

We decided to hold the Launch for Blanche’s biography in Bacton Village Hall. As it is adjacent to Bacton Church people would be able to visit Blanche’s monument in the chancel of the Church. This monument is now dated and so is no longer just a curiosity but has become nationally important. The Village Hall itself is on the site of the Church ale-house, the scene of the Mediaeval convivial village gatherings. Terry Richardson hired the room. A glass of wine, or juice, would be provided accompanied by ’nibbles’ which, under the direction of Katherine Goldsworthy and her helpers proved to be absolutely delicious. Bill and Jean Millington made sure the room was swept and arranged for the heating radiators to be put on over night. Jo Denyer provided delightful flower arrangements. Charles Hunter and Bill saw to car-parking arrangements, opening up the orchard, using the Church car park, the two lanes adjoining and the area in front of the Old Rectory (now a private house). Our family, including Paul & Hannah and David & Kathy, would come early to help put out the chairs…

Andy Johnson and Karen Stout of Logaston Press had contacted me when the books arrived from the printer. I worked out a Talk and Terry put the illustrations on the projector stick. At that point I started to feel nervous! I had been watching the weather all week on the Met. Office website and the only rain was due on Saturday afternoon as an occluded front came across! In the event it was dry at Bacton, though nearby Madley had rain and strong winds - perhaps this was Blanche’s own contribution to the success of the day…

Our family arrived bearing cakes for our post-Launch tea, congratulatory cards and a huge bouquet of flowers from them all; it was gorgeous, absolutely gorgeous! We had an early lunch, crowded around the table which was fun in itself. Then they sent me to change and while I was upstairs they all washed up and cleared away - I had nothing to do later… We went early to the hall which is very pleasant as it has recently been decorated. The screen was erected, the projector positioned and the books were laid out ready on tables by the door, with the wine and ’nibbles’ by the kitchen area. Chairs were placed…

At 1.30 p.m. the first people arrived and were welcomed. By 2.50 p.m. people were coming in droves. It was sensational…they just kept coming… Paul, our son, told me to look out of the window and there were cars queuing up the hill and, indeed, there were queues all the way back to the main road. All the seats quickly filled and more were found - the area where I would stand to speak became smaller and smaller!

Andy was selling frantically. He was supposed to introduce me but could not reach the front as by this time 200+ people were sitting, standing at the sides or trying to get in… David, managed to reach him and we decided to begin the illustrated Talk at about 2.15 p.m. I concluded it by suggesting that people continued to buy the book, enjoy their wine and ’nibbles’ and visit Bacton Church to see the Embroidery, Bequest Board and Blanche’s Monument. Then a place was found for me to sign the books - the queue became longer and longer… Everyone was lovely, complimentary and enthusiastic. I do so hope the book has put Blanche back at centre-stage of the Elizabethan Court and, hopefully, it will encourage visitors to Bacton Church, Aconbury Church, Dore Abbey (where Blanche’s father was Steward) and St. Margaret’s Church, Westminster (whose People’s Churchwarden, Mrs Nita Budd, came with her husband Sinclair).

After such a wonderful, marvellous occasion Terry and I returned home for, as I thought, a cup-of-tea. At the door I was greeted with champagne and for the rest of the evening I was running on a potent cocktail of adrenaline-and-champagne! It really was a day to remember…