Sally Kindberg at the Punch & Judy Festival 2024

Mr Punch’s appearance in London’s Covent Garden, first mentioned by Samuel Pepys on 9th May 1662, is cause for an annual celebration of all things puppet related in the church gardens of St Paul’s, known as the Actors’ Church.  This year the event was held on 12th May, in brilliant sunshine.  I missed the church blessing of the puppets and puppeteers, but bumped into two sisters connected to another fortuitous meeting I had here in 2012, when I got into conversation with their uncle, Punch & Judy Professor Leslie Press, whose father Percy Press has a commemorative plaque in St Paul’s. That 2012 meeting resulted in my having an exhibition about him.  Adrienne, one of Leslie’s nieces and also a Professor, very kindly let me hold Mr Punch – or maybe he held me?

Leslie’s Punch family were carved by Fred Tickner, who also carved Muffin the Mule. To my delight I discovered Muffin dancing on a nearby table.

On one of the many festival stalls were puppets carved in the 1950s in east Germany, according to the stallholder. One of them came home with me to have his wobbly head secured, and is now living with a friend.


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