DT1: Tale of Tolpuddle Martyrs heads to Dorchester

Dorset Echo: TOLPUDDLE TALE: Shire Hall, Dorchester TOLPUDDLE TALE: Shire Hall, Dorchester

THE TALE of the Tolpuddle Martyrs will be told on the stage at a fundraising event in Dorchester.

The Corn Exchange will host a production of We Will Be Free on Saturday, March 1 to help raise funds for the renovation of the county town’s Shire Hall, the scene of the Martyr’s trial in 1834.

The show from Townsend Productions is fresh from a nationwide tour and tells the story of Methodist preacher George Loveless, his wife Betsy and the farm labourers who later became known as the Tolpuddle Martyrs.

Proceeds from the event will go to a project led by West Dorset District Council to redevelop the Shire Hall and transform it into a major visitor attraction.

Leader of the council Robert Gould said: “We Will Be Free brings the story of what actually happened at Shire Hall to life and I would urge anyone with an interest in the history of the Tolpuddle Martyrs and supporters of the Shire Hall project to come along to see the show. “Proceeds from the ticket sales will help fund a programme of events at Shire Hall this summer.”

The performance starts at 8pm and the Shire Hall’s old Crown Court and Cells a few doors up the road will be open to visitors from 6.30pm on the night.

Tickets cost £10 or £8 for Dorchester Arts members and concessions and are available at www.dorchesterarts.org.uk Scenes of the play were performed in the Shire Hall last September as part of a special Heritage Open Day.

West Dorset District Council has estimated that it will cost around £2.5million to develop the hall as a heritage attraction.

It has already received initial funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to help get the project off the ground, meaning detailed design and planning work can continue over the coming year.

Another bid for £1.1m will be made to the HLF in the summer and if it is successful the council had pledged to match the funding to help make the project a reality.

For more information and regular updates about the Shire Hall project visit dorsetforyou.com/e-news

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