PuppetLink is delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund supported the community education programme that is at the heart of their project The Big Grin.

The project - in association with the V&A Museum of Childhood, the Punch and Judy Fellowship, the Punch and Judy College of Professors and many other partners - aimed to show how Punch & Judy developed into a form of popular entertainment still thriving in 2012 – the 350th anniversary of Mr. Punch. It worked nationally with a wide network of volunteer groups, museums, local authorities, schools and colleges and - most importantly - the Punch and Judy men and women of Great Britain. It explored Punch’s European roots, the popular role the Punch and Judy Show has since played in millions of childhood memories, and created a new media archive of the 350 year old art form and its place in UK culture to be publicly accessible for the first time.

Arguably the most famous traditional puppets in the Western World, the Punch and Judy Show – synonymous with British seaside holidays of yesteryear – has come a long way since an Italian puppet called Pulcinella was first recorded in the 1662 diary of Samuel Pepys after a Covent Garden show!

Said Anne Jenkins Deputy Director of Operations for the Heritage Lottery Fund

Bringing some welcome fun to our towns and cities this summer it offers a multitude of community benefits with opportunities for a UK-wide network of volunteers to get involved in marketing, putting on events and leading heritage tours.  Young people and their families will get involved at local schools and museums across the UK meaning that this exciting project will benefit people of all ages.”

Said Glyn Edwards, Artistic Director for PuppetLink.

“Mr. Punch and his wooden co-stars have been entertaining the public for so long that their origins and true story have been lost in the mists of time and obscured by urban myth. We are delighted that this project will enable so many people to get involved in learning about the longest-lived and most vigorous form of folk puppetry Europe has ever known: one which tickled the funnybone of Samuel Pepys and still has the power to make people laugh in the 21st Century.”


A regional performing arts charity specialising in puppet theatre and allied arts.  For over a decade it has delivered projects primarily for family audiences through a network of partnerships with local authority arts providers, venues and peer practitioners. PuppetLink is currently undergoing a change of focus and moving towards projects delivered nationally. The Big Grin – celebrating 350 years of Mr. Punch – is the first of these. See contact page for further details.

Heritage Lottery Fund
Using money raised through the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) sustains and transforms a wide range of heritage for present and future generations to take part in, learn from and enjoy. From museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions, we invest in every part of our diverse heritage. HLF has supported more than 30,000 projects allocating £4.7billion across the UK. Website: