The Priory Picnic
Music on a summer evening
By Daphne Knott
The Priory Picnic has become something of a Hitchin institution. Every year in early July, the owners of Hitchin Priory open the grounds to the students, parents and friends of North Herts Music School for an evening of music.
Early in the evening, as the time for the concert approaches, the streets around the Priory are filled with cars and pedestrians heading for the grounds. It’s as well to get there early if you want to be near the action! As the grounds start to fill up, you can see an array of picnics – some simple, some very grand with tables, candelabra and champagne.
It is an opportunity for the senior students of the school to showcase their talents. From serious classical to swing and jazz, the music flows until it gets dark, when there is a fireworks display for all by the river. The audience is always appreciative and luckily at least some of the bands usually prepare an encore. For some of the young performers, this is the first step in a professional music career.
For some years my family made up a party of eager students and proud parents and grandparents. Our picnics were of variable quality and quantity, but the concert was always one of the highlights of the summer.