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Hallows’ Eve
Costume Ball

Hylands House

A Grand Ball

This Halloween-themed party took place over three ‘abandoned’ floors of a mansion – Hylands House – plus inside an adjacent Grand Pavilion.

As well as multiple bar and snack areas, the venue was divided into more than a dozen themed areas largely created by artist Jo Peacock.

Behind each door was something unsettling, unpleasant or plain peculiar as dozens of characters took your hand, attached or not, on a tour of the darkest parts of this building and your soul.

The crowds queue outside Hylands House

The entrance took attendees into the foyer of the House and from there they could explore a range of curiousities including the games room, cinema (showing various horror shorts), music room, saloon, witches broth, laboratory, surgery, jail and ballroom.

The mansion is surrounded by the dramatic Hylands Park site

Professional performers and local drama students were engaged to add an extra dimension to the event – for example interactive ‘secret keepers’ room and another ‘pig trapper’ show.

As the venue is a historic building usually open to the public during the day, many of the existing public areas, such as the cabinet room and master bedroom, were transformed with decor and performance to suit the nature of this adults-only event.

A ‘private viewing room’ with exclusive activity inside was open to those with VIP passes.

Guests were told that they entered the house ‘at their own risk’ and that they may be asked to cooperate in random investigatory procedures as the house had been experiencing strange paranormal activity of late…

Young and old, the alive and kicking, the dead and undead, were also all invited to dress-up according to the Halloween tradition delightfully dedicated to the departed and there were awards for the best.

The evening included a competition for the attendees including a fashion runway followed by a disco

This unique Hallows’ Eve gathering had a late demise with a Disco of the Dead included at the end.

Lighting and special effects were installed by James Waudby of Astral Design.

From the left – Me with some of the event crew, James Waudby, Jenni Williams, Mike Dodsworth and Nick Crow.

With thanks to Jo Peacock, Mike Dodsworth, Astral Design, East 15 Acting School, Chelmsford College and the Pauline Quirke Academy of Performing Arts in helping to devise and deliver this unearthly project. Photos above by and the team

The international artist and performer, Jo Peacock, in her studio


A detail of decor installed by Jo Peacock
Storyteller Mike Dodsworth with a guest / mouse
Students from the famous East 15 Acting School added extra character to many rooms
The decor included the humourous together with the more gruesome
A costume designed and worn by Jo Peacock