Site updated December 2021 following transfer of site to a new host
Section 5: Social aspects of living in Manor View
Although we didn't move into the road until 1975, we had been hoping to move here for several years - and our eldest daughter was already attending St Mary's Primary School by the time we managed to buy a property here. We both knew the road well - my husband was playing cricket at Finchley CC every weekend; and as well as walking along Manor View on my way to school in the 1950s, in more recent times I had attended regular meetings and rehearsals of the Guild Players which were held in various houses in the road, and had been captivated by the characterful interiors of the properties. Everyone seemed to know all their neighbours (and at that time, there was very little traffic!); there were regular street parties and even a box of 'road glasses' available to anyone in need of a couple of dozen wine glasses.
So when I started this research, I was surprised to discover that the Guild Players was not the only amateur dramatic group based in the road - there was also a group called the Manor Players!
Past resident of 5 Manor View, John Savage has kindly contributed the following recollections of the very social aspects of living in Manor View ....
My parents moved to Manor View in the summer of 1947. Thoughtfully they remembered to bring me with them; I was 18 months old. Having been born in a nursing home near the Three Bells pub I spent my first 18 months above the hairdressers that my mother ran. It was called Solloways and was on the corner of Regents Park Road and College Terrace, part of what is now the Brothers fish restaurant.
My mother Winifred had been looking for a house for some while and was told about this one by the newsagent near the Queens Head pub. She recalled that by the time we all walked up East End Road they had hardly two pennies to rub together. Fortunately No 5 had plenty of rooms some of which were already occupied by students from Africa, mostly studying at London University. They stayed for quite a few years. Winifred recalled learning cooking skills from them as they cooked on single gas rings in the hearths of the fireplaces in their rooms. Some of these students went on to be significant in their own countries running legal and medical services.
The Manor Players were formed during the second world war and were named for Finchley Manor House which still stands at the end of Manor View. For clarity Squires Lane, which runs from the High Road, actually the Great North Road, and was the driveway to the manor house continued right up to East End Road and Manor View was given that name when superior housing was being built in that section of Squires Lane. Remember that originally the railway bridge would not have been there until mid 19th century. The housing in Manor View was developed firstly on the even side with the wide pavement being part of the infilled moat. The odd side was developed after World War One.
I have the minute books, accounts, programmes and photographs for the Manor Players and as far as I know I am the only remaining member apart from David White/Jason! The Manor Players performed at St Luke’s Hall in Mountfield Road and rehearsed at Avenue House.
My parents joined in the early 1950s. Whether they had any previous experience I don’t know but they were both very good and Dennis was often in the three shows per year with Winifred less often. I know that my aunts were good at baby sitting and their husbands often helped with sound and lighting. I first performed with them in Goodbye Mr Chips when I was 12. Bob Maitland who lived at No 31 with his mother Nan, was a slightly older boy in the play.
Jumping ahead; The Guild Players started at around the same time. They were named for The Guild which was a traditional part of the social aspect of Methodist Churches. These were weekly meetings on all sorts of interests and The Players sprang out of them. I can remember the two activities running in parallel. It so happens that several members of The Guild Players lived in Manor View as did members of the Manor Players. I think that the Savages were the only ones that belonged to both and I’ll try to unravel that!
Betty Nye lived at No 16 with her brother, mother and aunt. Betty had beautiful auburn hair and was an accomplished actress. We were always invited to their house for drinks on Christmas morning. The Freeguards lived at No 23 - their son Norman was a wonderful actor and I remember him as Mr Chips. When Nan Maitland moved from No 31 the Camerons moved in. Alene made beautiful costumes and Alec acted. He was a manager for Whitbreads brewery near Brick Lane and he arranged for their carpenters to build a superb set of scenery for the Manor Players. This was eventually sold to The Guild Players (about 50 years ago!) and some is still in use. Most other members lived in adjacent roads and all within easy walking distance of rehearsal room and church hall.
When I was about 16, Doris Curtis, whose family had moved to No 21 in about 1953, encouraged me to join The Guild Players and I stayed there for about 40 years. The Manor Players eventually folded around 1967 through lack of support in a changing world. More could be written about this. By then I had studied at The Central School of Speech and Drama and was qualified as a teacher of Speech and Drama.
Around this time Laurie and Renee Heatherington had moved to No 14 with their two sons and daughter. Eric and Evelyn Barrett had moved to No 19 and two of their three daughters were in Guild Player shows.
These people were very dear to me and gave me great support and encouragement over many years. My parents became part of the Guild Players as did Hugh Eliot of the Manor Players and, of course Bob Maitland.
When I joined the Incognito Theatre Group it was a joy that Betty Nye was in the audiences as was Laurie Heatherington with Barbara.
John Savage, Spring 2020
And finally ... that mystery photo!
The photographer was Harold Moyse of Muswell Hill
This enlargement of the cap badge is very blurred - but the best I could produce from a photo which is over 100 years old, and may have spent much of that time in a loft!!
Below are a few thumbnails of Guild Players productions ...
if anyone can provide more please email them to me for inclusion.
Lark Rise to Candleford (promenade production)
UPDATE: Several neighbours have had a crack at this - so far we are all agreed that the cap badge represents a London Artillery Regiment - and that the one pip on his could suggest he was a 2nd Lt. But none of the soldiers listed on online sources that fit these criteria have any local connections - so we are no nearer finding a connection to either the NYEs or the AITKENs.
Back in 2014 when I first asked residents living on the even numbered side of Manor View if they possessed any old photos of their house, the then resident of number 16 Manor View gave me this postcard, which she had found in the loft when she first moved in.
Thinking the soldier depicted (who signed himself Ivon) might be a relative of the NYE family who I believe moved to Finchley between 1918 and 1923. I constructed a family tree for the NYEs to try to locate an Ivon. There were no Ivons to be found. (Though he could of course have been a relative or an acquaintance of the AITKENs who were living at the property in 1914 when the postcard was dated)
So then I looked through the Army Service Records for WW1, and was astonished to find more than 30 soldiers with this first name had enlisted!
Clearly a big clue would be to establish the Regiment in which this particular Ivon served, and his rank - but military uniforms are not an area in which I hold any expertise. But in case someone out there could help, I also show an enlarged image of his Cap Badge, which I suspect could identify the Regiment.
Any suggestions from military investigators would be very gratefully received!! (see Contact details)