Lincoln actress’ role gets close to home for remembrance play

An actress is now getting a better understanding of what her character for a WWI play went through by coincidentally living in the Lincoln house the heroine lived in.

Harriet Mawson is playing the part of Edie Beechey in the Drill Hall play, The Last Post: a play based on the 300 letters of Lincoln’s Beechey family between the home and the frontline.

Of the eight sons that went to war, only three returned, with one crippled for life. The family’s contribution to the War was so unique that King George V and Queen Mary thanked mother Amy Beechey for her sacrifice in person at the Lincoln Guildhall in April 1917.

The family lived in a house on Avondale Street off Monks Road, and still exists today.

Harriet moved into the home by chance when looking for rented accommodation, and found a room in the exact house.

Harriet (19) is living in the house in order to find her “inner Edie”. Edie was the youngest of five sisters, and moved into the house in 1912 after the death of their father.

As well as packaging parcels for her brothers, she worked on munitions at Clayton Shuttleworth during the war effort.

Edie also collected and saved the letters from her brothers, stashed them in a suitcase and eventually got back to Lincoln via her daughter’s Devon attic.

It is these letters inspired sellout The Last Post, which will be staged during Armistice Week (on November 12-15) in a premises that drilled soldiers for war.

Harriet said: “When I rang the letting agent they reeled off a few addresses and only when I asked if there were any more did they mention Avondale Street. Alarm bells rang and when they told me the number I couldn’t believe it.

“If I didn’t like it I wouldn’t be here solely on that basis, but the reality is that I absolutely love it. I opened the front door and thought ‘I’m home’. There are walls and doors which I imagine were here when Edie and the Beecheys were here and the alleyway and passageways haven’t changed a bit.

“My room is what would have been the parlour and there’s still an attic room which was Amy’s back then.

“I’ve read the letters the boys wrote and the one surviving one of Edie’s, read her memoires and poetry and heard what Joey Warren, Edie’s daughter remembers of her mother’s recollections and that’s been a real help in getting under Edie’s skin. But to be able to stand in the house, walk through the front door and stand in their kitchen, at the heart of their home, is amazing.

“It’s really helped me to get a feel for Edie as a person. Just as I’m living here, she lived here, with meals to cook, work to do and letters to write.”

“That’s helped me get a grip on the era of World War One too. We know it through books and films and through the mens’ experiences, but to read the brothers’ letters and imagine the women’s responses has made it really real. Most of the letters are blissfully mundane and then occasionally you get the odd one saying something incredibly profound and that can be heartbreaking.”