Of all the lesser spotted animals in Nunney, Kim Pyper’s camel is the stuff of legends.In August 1976 Nunney had a committee to organise celebrations to mark the Queen’s 1977 Silver Jubilee, chaired by Andrew Gibson and whose members and sub-committee members included Owen Hillier, Fred Lestrange, Kim Pyper, Rosie and Bill Davies and others. Co-ordinators were Jack Bliss and Jeremy Hobson.
The committee members came up with a remarkable publicity stunt to raise the cash needed to stage proper celebrations.
Rumours started to spread around the village that the committee members were setting up a deal to sell Nunney Castle to Arabs.
The castle, bought at auction in 1950 by Rob Walker of Nunney Court but cared for by the Environment Department, seemed an unlikely purchase but a fake protest was staged nevertheless. “Hands off our castle” was the slogan.
Kim Pyper, a Silver Jubilee committee member who lived at Primrose Hill in Nunney, strongly denied any backroom deals in the media, “There is definitely no truth in the rumour.”
“Someone put the deal forward as a suggested way of raising money for our funds and the rumour then spread.”
And what better way to vigorously deny a rumour about Nunney’s first venture into the world of big business than to tour Nunney and Frome on the back of a camel?
That’s exactly what the Silver Jubilee Committee did on 10 September 1976 – interestingly the day before Nunney Fayre, which had been revived the previous year.
Kim Pyper, dressed as an Arab, toured the village and Frome on a camel hired from Longleat Safari Park to tell people to ignore rumours of the sale of Nunney Castle and to visit Nunney Fayre instead.
Only in Nunney, as they say…
The next day’s fayre was very successfully and raised £300 for Nunney’s Silver Jubilee celebrations in 1977. According to a committee newsletter, “It is intended to make the Fayre an annual event which, in future, will be held in June on the Saturday on or nearest to Midsummer’s Day.”
The Silver Jubilee celebrations took place between Saturday 4 to Tuesday 7 June 1977.
Described in the programme as “the weekend of a lifetime”, events in Nunney included a barn dance, It’s a Knockout competition, the drama Sage of the Queen of England produced by Hilary Daniels in Nunney Church, skittles matches at the Theobald Arms, a carnival procession from the Masters’ field opposite Springfield House all the way to Glebelands and back led by the Frome Town Band, a son et lumière around Rick Lewis’ epic poem A Nunney Saga at Nunney Castle and lots more.
There were games and a street party for the children and they all received a Jubilee mug as well. Elderly villagers had their own tea party in The George, hosted by Phyl Smith.
According to the programme the final day, Tuesday 7 June 1977, offered “All day: free cider (while it lasts)”. The son et lumière that night must be have been rather jolly.
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