By Robert Hale
A VILLAGE near Bromyard is putting on a heritage project to commemorate one of the earliest works of science fiction published in English.
The Man in the Moone was published in 1638 by Francis Godwin, Bishop of Hereford and resident of Whitbourne.
The story tells how adventurer Domingo Gonsales reaches the moon hauled by swans, and what he finds there.
July 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing, and charity Everybody Dance, also based in Whitbourne, plans to celebrate this with a community performance of Our Man in the Moone, an outdoor spectacular of aerial dance, live music, narration, lighting and projection.
And the group has just won a £10,000 National Lottery grant to fund the project.
Ron James, chairman of Whitbourne Parish Council, said “Bishop Godwin and his important work have been rather forgotten in the village and this move to revive interest is very welcome.
“The council is happy to support the project as it will without doubt benefit the whole community and provide a welcome focus of pride and celebration to the village.
“When I was at Whitbourne School in 1959, we put on a play about Bishop Godwin’s story, which was a winner at a county competition. We had a trip to London to perform it in front of the Queen. Unfortunately, the Queen was delayed and never saw it, but it was quite an experience for us country children in those days.”
Resident Laura Roberts said: “The children are all very excited at the prospect of exploring the story and also doing some flying with Everybody Dance. It will be good to find out more about the history of the village through this fascinating tale.”
Whitbourne Community Shop is also supporting the project, along with the Herefordshire Community Foundation, the Elmley Foundation and Susan Bulmer.
Everybody Dance will be working for the next twelve months with a local historian, writer, dance practitioner and storyteller.