Grimstone's Glory - A victorian Christmas melodrama
The play was written for year 5 and 6 pupils at a village primary school. It was featured in a Junior Education project on Victorians in September 1983 and it is suitable for any key stage 2 children as a Christmas production.
The play is set in England in the 1850s. Mr Grimstone is overmaster to a group of chimney sweeps. He is a hard cruel man with no spark of humanity. He has a strange habit of carrying a small box with him wherever he goes.
The play opens with one of the sweeps, Choke, being carried into the sweeps' garret after falling down a chimney and injuring himself. When Grimstone discovers this, he throws Choke out on the streets.
In his place, Grimstone introduces Twister, an orphan sold to him by the boy's greedy aunt. To cheer him and themselves up, the sweeps hold an imaginary banquet which is broken up by the irate Grimstone.
Twister is terrified at the prospect of climbing chimneys and when forced to do so runs away. Grimstone and the sweeps mount a search and eventually corner Twister. In the hubbub Grimstone is knocked over and drops his curious box. Out falls a miniature picture which breaks. Grimstone appears distraught and returns home.
The sweeps discover that the picture is of his wife, Dulcie. Inside is a newspaper cutting from which they learn that Grimstone's wife and their son died on Christmas Eve some years ago.The sweeps had always believed that Dulcie had been hanged for thieving.
The sweeps decide to spend the money they had scraped together for a Christmas dinner, on repairing the picture.
On Christmas Eve, Grimstone resolves to be stricter than ever and orders the sweeps to work on Christmas day. They give him the repaired picture and his heart melts.
The final scene is on Christmas day. The sweeps enter in darkness. Grimstone appears and the room lights up to reveal a great feast and he proclaims himself a changed man. He leaves and returns almost at once with Choke, whom he has sought and found. The play ends amid much rejoicing.
"Junior School pupils have been playing to packed houses in the Village Hall this week with Grimstone's Glory, a gripping Victorian melodrama. Son of Scrooge, grandson of Fagin, the sweepmaster Grimstone casts the populace into gloom and despondency with his evil ways, but as Christmas approaches the villain mellows, sees the light and everyone lives happily ever after." Sussex Courier