The film shows the children of Ash Common School dancing at Dene Lodge. In A hundred years of progress, a booklet she wrote for the school’s centenary in 1960, Miss Grove, the deputy headmistress, recalled “a delightful garden party given by Mr AEK Cull in the grounds of Dene Lodge at Ash Green, when his children and those of Ash Common School gave a dancing display.”
In 1926 the school managers formed a special committee to organise events to raise funds of £1000 for the school extension. Mr Cull of Dene Lodge was a member of the committee, and a garden party at his home raised £10.
Heathcote School (formerly Ash Common School) closed in 1987. A special event was organised to mark its closure called “127 all out”. A huge display of old photographs was mounted and ex pupils were invited. These materials have been kept and are now part of the Ash Museum collection (65/1/-). The cine film of the country dancing was shown during the evening, and many of the dancers were in the audience. They observed that the film was not of only one occasion, but that there had been more than one garden party at Dene Lodge at which the children had given performances of country dancing. They were very popular events, and Mr and Mrs Cull provided the children with strawberries and cream.
The first part of the film shows the south side of Dene Lodge, with the owner Mr Anders Eric Knös Cull, a stockbroker. He had six children and some of them are seen playing tennis and golf.
In part two there is dancing in the garden. Some screens have been brought out for the dancers, and there is a small stage. Flower borders and a shed can be seen behind the dance area, the butler and maids are seen in the background and there is a small audience.
In part three the band is seen entering the drive to Dene Lodge from White Lane Ash Green. Then the guests arrive, including one car. A long screen has been erected behind the dancing area. The band comprises an upright piano, cello, double bass and violin. Someone turns the sheet music.
The dancing follows, with the children wearing elaborate costumes, including smocks and felt hats. The dances are named, and end with number 25 the Finale (Combined Dance), from which the still above is taken.
Then we see the guests gathering in two large marquees. A maid hovers with a large teapot. Members of a band can be seen outside with broad sashes and shoulder bags.
Do come and see this wonderful film, which can now be viewed in the Museum.