The year is 1939 – Britain is basking in the sunshine of a glorious summer. Yet there is an air of tension, with the threat of imminent war against Hitler’s Nazi Germany ever-present. For most, it is a case of simply getting on with normal life; after all, Chamberlain has promised ‘peace in our time’ and the doom-mongers might just be wrong. For many, though, there is also the feeling that war is inevitable, and with it will come the senseless slaughter of millions of lives, including, almost certainly, the death of husbands, sons and brothers in the battlegrounds of Europe.
The British attitude of ‘stiff upper lip’ is evident nowhere more than at Dovecote Manor, in the sleepy little village of Much-Fumbling-in-the-Marshes. Here, in the idyllic setting of the Cotswold countryside, a group of people gather to celebrate the summer sun and too mark the fact that life may never be the same again with the traditional summer house party.
These are not your common villagers, though. Gathered at the Manor is a sample of life’s ‘Great and Good’ (in their eyes at least), all specially invited by Sir Rupert Montague MP.
Dovecote Manor has been in the Montague family for eleven generations, and the last four owners have also represented the area at Westminster.
In addition, to the special guests, Sir Rupert has followed tradition and the rest of the villagers are also invited; many take the chance to visit the Big House and snoop around to see how the other half lives.
The guests – some from the world of politics, entertainment, sport and the arts – are about to enjoy a fine dinner. Afterwards… who knows? A little light singing around the piano in the drawing room, perhaps, a gentle parlour game or two – charades is always so popular. Perhaps a bit of dancing, too, until the early hours. In the morning, when the servants have cleared away the mess, although the sun will shine again, the dark shadow of war may once again enter these people’s minds, but for now, this evening they will forget their fears and simply party…
OR WILL THEY?