In the Bible ownership of many donkeys is a sign of God’s blessing. So the Hutley family, who own the Wintershall estate just outside Guildford in Surrey, have a lot to feel thankful for.
Wintershall puts on theatrical productions including The Life of Christ, The Acts of the Apostles and The Wintershall Nativity Play.
The birth of a filly last week on the estate followed hot on the hooves of an already successful year with a stunning performance of The Passion before thousands in Trafalgar Square at Easter.
She also arrives just in time to see Chester, one of the other Wintershall resident donkeys who took part in the London show, prepare for his central role in The Life of Christ, a play which takes place from June 29 to July 4 on his home turf in Surrey.
One day perhaps little Talitha (Hebrew for “little girl”), as she has been named, could play a starring role herself.
Traditionally, Mary is portrayed riding a donkey while pregnant. Jesus was often described travelling in the same way, most notably during what we now call Palm Sunday.
Interestingly, although we think of it as a lowly thing to do, at the time in the context of the Hebrew Bible this implied wealth and affluence befitting the House of David, as the poor were described as journeying on foot.
Those who fancy a small stretch of their own legs in beautiful surroundings should feel encouraged to join the audience as it literally follows the action around the fields and lakes of the Wintershall estate.
Little Talitha with her mother, Acacia, and older donkey friend, Megan, will be witness to the thousands of visitors that come every day to see the wonderfully colourful production and will be there to greet visitors at the top of the drive. For tickets please call 01483 892167 or visit www.wintershall-estate.com.
Peter Hutley owns the Wintershall estate in Surrey, an organic farm and nature reserve, where he stages the religious plays mentioned.
He also stages a Passion play in Guildford, which originally met resistance and complaints in the local newspapers that it was disrupting the Easter holiday, Mr Hutley recalled.
“But now people seem more at ease with it,” he said.