Chelsea Arts Ball 1927 with the canvas background designed by Sir William Orpen.

The theme for the Chelsea’ Arts Ball at the Albert Hall in 1927 was ‘Merrie England’.  Orpen’s very realistic reproduction of Old London Bridge was then painted by art students from various colleges.

The Bystander Newspaper – Wednesday 02 March 1927, sketch by Helen McKie (page 11).

The students also arranged ‘Stunts’ including an Elizabethan May Day, witnessed by Queen Elizabeth riding a white horse and the welcome home to Devon of adventurer Sir Francis Drake.

The centre piece was a merry-go-round with hobby-horses and coloured searchlights directed at the dancers. Reminiscent of William Orpen’s paintings – ‘Armistice Night’ and ‘Changing Billets’.

The Sphere Newspaper – Saturday 05 March 1927, (page 10).

Armistice Night, Amiens – 11 November 1918 by William Orpen.

Changing Billets, Picardy 1918 by William Orpen.

The party was strictly fancy dress which included guests dressed as Walter Raleigh, William Shakespeare, Charlie Chaplin, Clara Bow, Coco Chanel and Henry VIII with his collection of wives.

William Orpen also served on the committee for the 1922 Chelsea Arts Ball – “Brighter London”.

‘Merrie England’ is an English comic opera in two acts by Sir Edward German (1862 – 1936) – an English musician, music teacher, songwriter and composer of Welsh descent.

Post by Dominic Lee.