Elizabeth ‘Molly’ Penney

Molly Penney
Mrs Elizabeth ‘Molly’ Penney

24 . 03 . 1903 – 02 . 02 . 1972


February 4 – Shoreham Herald – page 15

” Death of Mrs Molly Penney ”
The death took place on Wednesday of Mrs Molly Penney, wife of county alderman George Penney, of 26 Church-lane, Southwick.
Mrs Penney, who was born in Keymer, Sussex, was a founder member of Wick Theatre Company and acted and directed for that company and for Southwick Players for many years. Mrs Penney was also a member of Shoreham Inner Wheel and Brighton Soroptimists.

Alderman Penney retired last year as head of R. H. Penney and Sons, shipbrokers, of Albion-street, Southwick.
A memorial service, will take place of Tuesday at St Michael and All Angels’ Church, Southwick, preceded by private cremation.

February 20 – Shoreham Herald – page 20

A memorial service for Mrs M. E. Penney, of 26 Church-lane, Southwick, was held at St Michael’s Church, Southwick on Tuesday.
The service was conducted by the Rector, the Rev. F. Mitchinson, and the lesson read by the Rev. J. C. White of Shoreham. The Rev. R. J. Leavey, former rector of Southwick and now vicar of Henfield, gave the address. Reference was made during the service to some of Mrs Penney’s activities in Southwick, such as being president of the Southwick and Fishersgate Community Association and of the Wick Theatre Company.

She was also a member and past president of the Shoreham and Southwick Inner Wheel Club, a member of the Shoreham and Southwick Women’s Institute and of the Southwick branch of the Sussex County Art Club, and of the Southwick Players. She was also a past member of the Brighton Soroptomists Club.

She was a person who liked other people, particularly the young, commented Mr Leavey, and she gave her services whenever required. 

March – Community Centre Newsletter – issue 96

The Wick mourns the passing of our President Mrs. Elizabeth Penney. She was our mother figure and deeply loved. For a whole generation she watched over and guided the fortunes of Wick and we are proud to have come to maturity following her counsel and standards.

This is the end of an era: we are sad but hope to carry on, aiming high and being the type of drama company and the sort of people that she was happy to keep open house for and to lead.

Molly Penney’s impact on the ethos of Wick Theatre Company cannot be understated.


Richard Porter wrote.

” In 1998 Wick celebrated 50 years with a magnificent party enjoyed by many past and present members. I am one of the past members whose association with the Company dates back to the late fifties, where as a child I first became besotted with the theatre.

I owe a great deal to the company and to Elizabeth ‘Molly’ Penney.

I realise on reflection, that in the excitement of that celebration party and in the pleasure of the reunion of old friends, little mention was made of Molly and the enormous influence she had in the company. New members and audiences alike will have no knowledge of her guiding contribution and as fresh talent emerges to take the company forward it is fitting to acknowledge its origins. I would like to make a couple of suggestions as to how to pay tribute to her.

Molly, along with her husband, George, who continued to support the company long after her death in 1972, opened their house at 26 Church Lane as the company base. This was long before the company could afford the rental of rehearsal/social rooms at the centre. [web ed for ‘centre’ read Southwick Community Centre]. Penny’s Wharf, the hub of their business lives, became home to set construction, painting and storage; their loft a costume store. She even floated the expenses for each production until the box office returns came in.

Their generosity extended far beyond providing the much needed spaces required for the ‘Young Wick’ as it later became to flourish. It also nurtured and encouraged everyone to feel confident and worthwhile, whatever their contribution.

This ethos became central to the spirit of Wick and judging by the amazing range of talent that can be fielded today, still continues. Molly remained as President of the company until her death, apart from a brief hiatus due to illness when she requested that Bess Blagden step in as caretaker.

I now recognise that the attitude of both Molly and George Penney to the Wick and the community in general was one of public-spirited concern, where the greater good of all was valued above personal, immediate gratification. I am sure that their involvement in so many aspects of public life must have been at the expense of family and individual privacy. This was never apparent due to their enthusiasm and energy for all community projects. ”