REVIEW: Majesty – at Copsefield Gardens, 6 July 2019

There may be better ways of spending a gloriously warm and sunny late afternoon/evening than in the truly beautiful environment of Copsefield Gardens, sipping Prosecco and listening to talented musicians play, interspersed with readings from writers such as Shakespeare – but I can’t think of any. And it’s all in aid of charity, mostly local, too!

Although the ‘main event’ started at 6pm, gates opened at 4, giving visitors plenty of opportunity to experience the three very different yet equally attractive gardens that surround Copsefield House. Early entertainment was provided, the bar was open and there were happy people everywhere: enjoying their own picnics; relaxing on the deckchairs, benches and sunny grassy areas; wandering down to the private beach or standing on the veranda overlooking the Solent, just watching the boats go by and hearing the waves lapping the shore.

The delightful middle garden with its ornamental pond, and the magical woodland sloping to the sea gradually emptied as 6pm approached: all gathered in the third garden, in dappled sunlight and shade provided by some of the oldest trees on the Island, to hear the visiting Orchestra and local actors.

The Bloomsbury Band of Flutes and Clarinets, visiting Copsefield Gardens for the fourth year in a row, provided a wonderfully eclectic programme of music around the theme of Majesty, ranging from well-known pieces such as The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba by Handel and The Hall of the Mountain King from Peer Gynt, to an evocative piece written by David Morris, their conductor, revealing the insecurity within the most apparently confident and majestic persona.

Alongside the music were a rich variety of dramatised readings, again on the Majesty theme, performed by Martie Cain, Dianne Aspinall, John Hammond and Barry Aspinall. While Barry’s rendition of a diatribe against tobacco by an inebriated minister in the pulpit drew most laughs, and Martie and Dianne’s shared reading of Queen Victoria’s diary entry for her Coronation Day was compelling, for me the most enjoyable piece was the comic dialogue from Henry IV between Falstaff and Prince Hal, performed by John and Barry – one of my favourite Shakespeare scenes.

Congratulations must go not only to the wonderful musical and thespian performers, but to Andrew Jenner and the other owners of Copsefield House for organising such a fantastic event and for generously opening their lovely gardens for our enjoyment.

My only real complaint is that because this is an annual event, we now have to wait a whole twelve months to do it all over again – and if you missed this year, be sure not to make the same mistake in 2020!

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