There was probably amateur drama in Charing before the second world war but it was not until December 1946 that the Rev. Peter Birkett formed the Charing Guild Of Players. Six days later, on Christmas Eve, they performed a pageant of the Nativity.

Surprisingly, there is no record of any further activity until six years later when, in December 1952, Quiet Weekend was performed in the village hall. Over the next five years there were another five productions, all in the village hall.

On April 28 1958 the national press reported that 'the parishioners of Charing had erected a new theatre under the North Downs'. In 1956 the vicar, the Rev. Patrick Lury, together with parishioners and Guild members, paid £100 for a C17th tithe barn located at High Halden, some nine miles distant. Its fine old timbers were lovingly dismantled and rebuilt over a period of two years on a site adjoining Charing church.

The C17th Tithe Barn, home to the
Charing Guild of Players
The interior of the Church Barn,
viewed from the gallery

The Guild's first production in The Barn was Christopher Fry's The Lady's Not For Burning in May 1958 and the author visited The Barn during rehearsals. Since then, The Guild has produced plays every year, a total in excess of a hundred to date.

The Guild scrapbooks, together with photos and programmes, make interesting reading and are usually available for viewing on performance nights.


We usually produce three plays a year in February, May and November. Rehearsals are held in The Barn on Mondays and Thursdays during the preceding eight to ten weeks. During the summer months, Monday night is 'Guild Night' when the backstage area is sorted out, props and costumes are organised and the grass and garden area around The Barn is cut and trimmed.

There is a great deal more to producing plays than is ever seen by our audiences. They see the actors - 'the butterflies' - of the organisation without whom we would be nothing but there are many other activities which are essential to any production.

In the early part of our year the forthcoming plays are chosen by the Reading Committee, dedicated readers who get through dozens of plays before choosing three that fall within the capabilities of our actors and facilities.

Each play is selected with a producer in mind who takes responsibility from the first read-through to the first night when the stage manager takes over. Producers choose their support team of set designer, stage manager, prompt, sound, lighting and effects, if appropriate.

Jean Latter scraping off the old paint -
"I recognise this from a show in 1972!"
While the cast rehearse in the  barn,
the backstage crew get to grips with building
the set for the next production.
L-R John Avery, Brian White & Jean Latter.

In the early weeks of preparation, the actors rehearse in the main hall of The Barn while the team of set builders and painters are at work on the stage. Publicity gets under way and tickets and programmes are being prepared. The play runs from Wednesday to Saturday and then, during the following week, the set is dismantled, props and costumes returned and it's on to the next show!

The Guild is run by a committee that is elected at the Annual General Meeting in July. Other committee members can be co-opted as required. For further information please get in touch with our Membership Secretary.