The Story

Listen to The Same Sky Overture while you read the story…

Chapter One – Kings and Weavers The Primula auricula is a little flower whose origins are in the Alps. Imagine how it will have been trampled underfoot by the Roman Legions travelling across the continent two thousand years ago. By the 16th century the auricula became a symbol of wealth and was grown in what is now France and Belgium by the first people to be known as ‘florists’ – The Huguenot people. They were also craftsmen and women, weavers and silk workers. It is believed to be the Huguenot people who made auricula growing popular in England when they came here as refugees from the French wars of religion in the 16th century.

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MAWF Illustration by Abby Wright

Chapter Two – Into the Sun Here begins Valentina’s tale. Young lovers, Valentina and Raoul separate when she escapes persecution and comes to England as a refugee. Valentina boards a boat for the East Coast of England, leaving her lover behind to an uncertain fate, possibly death. She brings Primula auricula flower seeds and the skills to grow the little flowers here as a reminder of home. The Huguenot people were skilled artisans and were well accepted in their new land. Although Valentina misses her loved ones she is relieved to be travelling over the sea into the unknown and a new life. Valentina says she’ll never forget Raoul…

Chapter Three – Madness and the Wind Still at sea, and continuing with Valentina’s tale on board the ship…as is very often the case out at sea, Madness and the Wind prevail…

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A Huguenot by JE Millais

Chapter Four – The Same Sky Following Valentina’s tale is Raoul’s story. Raoul stands by his faith and stays behind. He’s feeling so sad now that his lover has gone, but looks up at the heavens and feels comfort in knowing that wherever she is, she’ll look up and see the same moon, the same stars…The Same Sky.

Chapter Five – English Garden Years go by, and Valentina embraces life in England, growing roses in her English garden. Millais’ painting is full of coded messages – the Victorian concept of ‘the language of flowers’. Red roses symbolise passion. In Millais’ painting of the lovers standing by the wall the young woman is trying to make her lover wear the white scarf that would protect him from persecution and possibly death, and he, despite his love for her refuses to renounce his faith. Here Canterbury Bells signify faith; and Nasturtiums, patriotism.

Valentina settles in the East Coast of England, she marries and has a family. But she never did forget Raoul.

Chapter Six – In the Greenwood Valentina is in England. In folklore the full moons have evocative names which are connected to the season such as Wolf Moon & Sturgeon Moon. The spring moon, when the Auriculas are in bloom is known in as The Flower Moon, and sometimes the Full Corn Planting Moon. Moons come and go and Valentina finds solace in the nature and the English woodland; in the trees and animals in the wood. The seasons turn, the full flower moon comes around again, and the Greenwood is good.

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Primula Auricula Dilly Dilly

Chapter Seven – Dressed in Blue Our penultimate chapter is a tribute to the beautiful little flower, it’s continuing endurance throughout history, and the unusual but traditional way of displaying it, on an Auricula Theatre. As is the way with flowers they don’t last long. But they come back again. We discover more beautiful varieties every year. So the story is for celebration and takes us back to the beginning; the flower of Kings will live forever; the flower of weavers will go on…

Chapter Eight AMy Ancestors were French: One of the themes of the songs is the impact of faith on people’s lives throughout history.  Today, because of migration, and travel, the world does seem smaller in some respects. There are many more options, many choices. But not necessarily any more answers to all our questions.  This song ‘My Ancestors were French’ is the tale of a young woman living in northern England, not far form here, not long ago. She doesn’t know much about her family history, but like many English or American people she is of Huguenot descent. There is often a clue in the name – Johnny Depp, Simon Le Bon, John Everett Millais the artist; but not always, there are some surprises  – Winston Churchill, Keith Richards, Judy Garland.  The young woman in this song starts to look back into her family history and begins to find the strength to help her through the pitfalls of life. 

© 2012 Louise Duffy-Howard

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