More than 200 people flooded into St Mary de Haura church in Shoreham on Saturday morning for the start of Shoreham Wordfest's marvellous festival celebrating William Shakespeare's birthday.
Songs, Sonnets and Soliloquies began the Celebrating Shakespeare day with a varied programme of music, madrigals and Elizabethan songs, a couple of sonnets and famous speeches from Henry V, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Macbeth, As You like It and more.
It was all performed by two small choirs – Seven Singers and Sounds and Sweet Airs – as well as recorder group King Henry's Consort and five actors – Janet Behan, Amaryllis Gunn, Daniel Pressley, Tony Allen and Keith Massey.
The morning ended with the audience joining the whole company for a rendition of Greensleeves.
The atmosphere in the church was warm and lively on the beautiful sunny day and the audience, including a good few children, responded rapturously to the programme.
The day continued in the afternoon with a talk at the Shoreham Centre by well-known local historian Chris Hare on Sussex Life in Shakespeare's Time.
Chris provided a fascinating account of little-known facts about the very different world of 16th century Sussex and, as ever with his talks, it was very well attended and received.
This was followed by a wonderful singing workshop led by Emily Longhurst and accompanied by Sounds and Sweet Airs, who played beautiful medieval and Elizabethan songs which attendees were encouraged to joined in with – which they did with great enthusiasm.
The day ended with a Shakespeare Night Ceilidh, again at the Shoreham Centre, where everyone enjoyed a rustic supper, entertainment from actors Janet Behan and Dave Peaty, sonnets from Keith Massey and songs from the Seven Singers and Stan Bailey.
The courtly and country dancing then followed with caller Tony Dunn and the marvellous Kate's Kitchen Band – another happy and well attended event.
Shoreham Wordfest believes the town is fairly unique in celebrating Shakespeare’s birth and death every year, both recorded as April 23, with a variety of much-enjoyed events.
This was Wordfest’s third Celebrating Shakespeare festival – it all began on the 400th anniversary of the Bard's death in 2016, and plans are already underway for next year.
For more information about the festival and other Shoreham Wordfest events, visit www.shorehamwordfest.com
Tomorrow, the group is hosting a Poemathon in the foyer of the Ropetackle Arts Centre in Shoreham from 11.30am to 4pm, in aid of the Unicef Rohingya child refugee appeal.
Tickets are also on sale for Brighton Shakespeare Company's performance of Comedy of Errors on Coronation Green in Shoreham on June 15 and 16.
• All pictures by David Sutton.
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