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Greed, Love and Murder

Greed, Love and Murder from Faversham take Centre Stage in Stratford upon Avon

Faversham is currently playing centre stage in Stratford upon Avon with the production by the Royal Shakespeare Company of ‘Arden of Faversham’. The play based on the true story of the murder of Thomas Arden, the former town mayor of Faversham by his wife in 1551, is an unusually early example of a British domestic tragedy. Alice plots with Mosby, her lover and brother of her maid, the murder of Arden, a ruthless business man. The plotting pair eventually succeed following a
number of bungled attempts and the involvement of various accomplice assassins.

The production which opened on 30th April will run until 2nd October in The Swan Theatre. Attending the press event on 6th May, the current Mayor of Faversham Councillor David Simmons commented ‘It is a superb and inspired interpretation of this somewhat gruesome tale, a contemporary production, but true to the original script - yet another fascinating event from Faversham’s  illustrious past’

The production, based on a true story, is notable as perhaps the earliest surviving example of domestic tragedy, where local crimes were published in Holinshed’s ‘Chronicles’. Whilst the author is unknown, some sources attribute it both solely and collectively to Christopher Marlowe and to Shakespeare. Shakespeare was known to have used Holinshed as a source for his English history dramas as well as being a visitor to Faversham.

Described by Erica Whyman, Deputy Artistic Director at the Royal Shakespeare Company as a ‘terrifying and blackly comic journey into the darker side of marriage, commerce and claustrophobic town life’, Arden is eventually murdered in his own home whilst playing a game of backgammon with Mosby. His wife and Black Will and Shakebag,  two hired assassins dragged the body into a field during a snowstorm hoping the blame would fall on a passing traveller. Before the killers’ tracks were covered, the snow stopped and their footprints were followed back to the house where the killers confessed. Alice and Mosby were put on trial and convicted of the crime. Alice was burnt at the stake in Canterbury and Mosby hanged in London.

The house in which the murder of Arden took place was a former guest house of Faversham Abbey built around 1475, for the Benedictine Abbey founded by King Stephen in 1147. Until 1772, the House stood against the outer gateway of the Abbey which stood astride Abbey Street. Guests would have included the likes of Cardinal Wolsey on his visits to the Abbey. By the 18th century it had become a farmhouse, and remained so until the early 20th century. 

Guided walking tours of Faversham take place every Saturday at 10.30am April to October starting from the Visitor Information Centre on Preston Street and incorporate Arden’s House on the 90 minute tour. 

The Faversham Mayor David Simmons at the Arden of Faversham Production

For further information please contact Sally Wookey, Tourism Officer, Faversham Town Council

Tel: 01795 594442/3
Mobile: 07751 877251

Lucy Guthrie


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