St Benet’s Abbey 1000! 'A Time to Gather Stones' - new play and Discovery Day - all welcome

A Time to Gather Stones draws together stories from across the history of the abbey – which was one of the richest in England until the time of the dissolution of the monasteries in the 16th century – up to its present day existence as an important site of archaeological and historical interest and a major visitor attraction in the Norfolk Broads.

Trish Fitzmaurice, Chair of the Friends of St Benet’s Abbey, said. “It is fantastic that the spotlight will be back on this icon of the Broads. I am so excited about this opportunity to share my love for this glorious place.”

The idea for a new play, to celebrate the anniversary, was suggested when a previous play about St Benet’s, written in 1907, was discovered by local historians in Ludham. It is the turn of today’s community to share their stories of St Benet’s through this new work by Parrabbola, who specialise in telling the stories of communities and celebrating special places through theatre made by the people – for the people.

Brian Abbott of Parrabbola, who is writing the new play said, “I begin by immersing myself in the research, exploring the area and talking with people and reading through anything I can find. As the play is made to fit the community members who will perform it, I ask people to tell me the stories that they know, and which are important to them. I start to write scenes that will make up the play  and the title comes naturally from the developing story.”

The next event will be the reading of the play, by Brian Abbott which is a first chance to hear the text in an informal session over a drink. The reading will be held on Tuesday April 2nd at  The New Inn Horning NR12 8PF at 7:30 pm

The Revd David Smith, The Prior of St Benet's Abbey, said: "This completely new drama will celebrate 1000 years of worship and community in and around St Benet's Abbey. ‘A time to gather stones’ is a quote from the Book of Ecclesiastes in the Old Testament, and reminds us that time and place were so important to the community of Benedictine monks who founded the Abbey.”

A Time to Gather Stones forms the centrepiece of a year of celebrations of St Benet’s Abbey, which also includes a St Benet’s Discovery Day [Download information here], spectacular willow sculptures at the Abbey site and exhibitions, training days and schools workshops.  The play will be performed by members of the community and everyone is welcome and invited to take part. There are no auditions, everyone gets a part! Drop in casting days are on Sun 7th April 2.00 – 6.00 pm Ludham Village Hall NR29 5PB and Mon 8th April 2.00 – 8.00pm Mill Suite at Horning Village Hall NR12 8LQ.

The Revd Deborah Hamilton-Grey, Rector of the Waterside Benefice, Ludham, Catfield, Potter Heigham and Hickling parishes said that the play would be, “A glorious opportunity to witness live actors on the site of St Benet’s Abbey. There will be live performance on boats, in schools and in churches. Join in, sign up, dress up!”

The celebration of 1000 years of St Benet’s Abbey is supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Fund.

For further information about the play contact Philip Parr info@parrabbola.co.uk, and for more information about St Benet’s Abbey and the anniversary events tfosba@gmail.com

Visit stbenetsabbey.org and follow the project on social media @StBenetsAbbey  @parrabbola or search for us on Facebook St Benet’s Abbey Norfolk Broads