Fringe Box



Tragedy of Guildford Opera Company Costumes Theft

Published on: 12 Aug, 2013
Updated on: 13 Aug, 2013
Kris Benjafield with a costume still safely in GOC's collection

Kris Benjafield with a costume still safely in GOC’s collection.

Hundreds of theatrical costumes have been stolen from a lock up garage in Bushy Hill, Merrow. The owners, Guildford Opera Company (GOC), is now appealing for help in tracking them down and rebuilding its collection.

A garage in which some of the collection was stored was broken into between July 29 and August 5. It is estimated that about 300 costumes worth in total around £3,000 were taken. They were mainly a mixture of mens’ suits and jackets and period dresses from the 1920s, 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s.

Also included were three red military jackets with gold braid on the front, a Yeoman of the Guard coat, hat and red breeches, a sheepskin lined flying jacket, goggles and helmet, an RAF greatcoat and some high necked military plain dark navy jackets.

An Elizabethan costume from the GOC collection, part of an exhibition at Guildford House several years ago

An Elizabethan costume from the GOC collection, part of an exhibition at Guildford House several years ago.

Kris Benjafield the costume mistress for the GOC said: “I went to the garage in Bushy Hill, which is rented from the council last Monday, 5th of August and found the door unlocked and the costumes missing.

“I don’t know if it was someone just trying their luck to open the doors or someone had seen the garage contained clothes/costumes when it was open and I was inside. They must have had a vehicle to take them away.

“I feel gutted about the loss but realise the the thieves don’t have a conscience and are only looking to make some quick money. I know that the chances of finding any of these is very low as they could be taken out of the area for disposal but I would ask your readers to please let me know if you happen to see anything offered at a car boot sale, market etc. Many of them had GOC written in biro inside the costumes. It has taken many years to build up this stock and now have to start again.

“I look after the company’s stock of costumes and hire them out to local societies and groups for their productions to make a bit of money for the company to enable us to put on productions.”

The Guildford Opera Company has been established for 40 years. Members normally perform at the Electric Theatre. Ms Benjafield said: “We are always looking for new members, particularly men. Even if one cannot sing we require members for walk-on parts.”

The company would also like to hear from those who have suitable costumes that they can donate.

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Responses to Tragedy of Guildford Opera Company Costumes Theft

  1. Diane Maxfield Reply

    August 13, 2013 at 11:04 am

    Those of us who have hired and/or worn items from Kris Benjafield’s collection over the years are distressed on her behalf that years of work and dedication can be wiped out in this way.

    I was lucky enough to be able to hire some beautiful costumes for ‘Alice in Looking-glass Land’, which were very true to the Tenniel illustrations. It was a pleasure to work with Kris and I hope that this publicity campaign might help restore some of these costumes to their rightful owner. At the very least, I hope the thieves find they don’t profit from their crime.

  2. Jo Newell Reply

    August 13, 2013 at 3:10 pm

    This is a terrible thing to happen to such a lovely lady. Let’s hope the costumes come back to their rightful owner.

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