Life of Christ portrayed in Surrey countryside

The final rehearsals are taking place this week for  a huge open-air production of the Life of Christ, being  staged deep in the Surrey countryside from Tuesday 23 June  to  Sunday 28 June. Up to  3,000 people a day are expected to attend the play, held in the grounds of the Wintershall Estate near Bramley, just outside Guildford, Surrey.

The show has taken place every year since 2000, and is the brainchild of estate owner Peter Hutley, who was inspired to write it,  after Pope John Paul II declared 1999 the year of preparation for the millennium.

"Everyone was talking about parties and the Dome," he said.  "But there wouldn't be a millennium without Jesus."

Hutley has transformed the 1,000 acre grounds into first-century Palestine to stage the play. A lake acts as the river Jordan and the Sea of Galilee; Lazarus's tomb and the temple in Jerusalem are built out of polystyrene and placed around the spectacular grounds. Charting the New Testament from the Annunciation to the Ascension, the open-air show lasts five and a half hours, and features 270 actors, 30 sheep, 15 horses, two donkeys and a camel. Jesus is the only paid member of the cast; the rest are enthusiastic amateurs.

The son of a market gardener, Hutley made a multi-million pound fortune in property development, and bought Wintershall in the 1960s. At the time, his wife, Ann, was suffering from depression. When she heard about Medjugorje, she went on pilgrimage there and experienced a cure. Soon she and her husband became Catholic and decided to dedicate their lives to God.

Peter began by writing smaller Christmas and Easter plays, before embarking on this full scale Life of Christ.

He said: “I’m constantly astonished at the size of the audiences who come to Wintershall – and this year is no exception, with crowd members on some days of the six-day performance expected to reach nearly 3,000! ‘

For more information see:

Call: 01483 892167 or email for tickets.

Each performance starts at approximately 10.15am each day and finishes at 4pm.Tickets are priced £15 for adults and £7.50 for children and there are group discounts.

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