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Thatcham Broadway celebrates towns heritage in historical 'Royal' Friday market' live theatre performance




Thatcham went back in time today as live theatre took over the Broadway to tell the tale of the town’s rich history.

Residents and passers-by were teleported to the year 1125 AD to watch a historical re-enactment of King Henry II passing a royal charter confirming the status of the town and its market.

The event,bA Right Royal Market, saw Torchlight Heritage and KATS (Kennet Amateur Theatrical Society), along with Kennet school students, create a historical performance for Friday market goers.

Alistair Smyth (Newbury) and Mike Cole (Thatcham) fight it out. Picture by: Pete Bloodworth
Alistair Smyth (Newbury) and Mike Cole (Thatcham) fight it out. Picture by: Pete Bloodworth

Thatcham council events manager John Sackett said: “What today has been about is trying to bring Thatcham’s rich heritage to life.

“The market re-enactment is amazing for that in an entertaining way.”

The re-enactment told the story of how King Henry II allowed Thatcham to set up a market.

Alistair Smyth (Newbury) and his Red team fight their corner. Picture by: Pete Bloodworth
Alistair Smyth (Newbury) and his Red team fight their corner. Picture by: Pete Bloodworth

They then passed royal protections on the market following many occasions where unhappy Newbury market traders marched into Thatcham and stopped its traders from conducting their business.

Mr Sackett noted the importance of this re-enactment in a Thatcham council meeting. He said: “Thatcham owns its origins to a royal charter in relation to none the less than King Henry II.”

Attendees were encouraged to either wear red in support of Newbury or blue to support Thatcham.

The event was also marked by a memorial plaque on the base of the remains of the market cross in Thatcham Broadway.

Thatcham see off Newbury. Picture by: Pete Bloodworth
Thatcham see off Newbury. Picture by: Pete Bloodworth

Thatcham mayor John Boyd was in attendance. He said: “The thing about a re-enactment like this is it brings it home to the people about how important Thatcham was.

“The king looked upon us favourably.”

Newbury (red) pick holes in Thatcham's produce. Picture by: Pete Bloodworth
Newbury (red) pick holes in Thatcham's produce. Picture by: Pete Bloodworth

The live actors drew in quite the crowd as they told their tale in the Broadway.

Passers-by lifted their cameras above the watching audience to grab a quick photo of the show.

Councillor Mike Cole (Lib Dem, Thatcham North East) who also is a member of the Kennet Amateur Theatrical society, took part in the re-enactment.

Thatcham fruit and veg stall, Sally Nailor. Picture by: Pete Bloodworth
Thatcham fruit and veg stall, Sally Nailor. Picture by: Pete Bloodworth

He said: “We are a proud town and if we can give people that little feel of how long a heritage we have got within the town, that’s powerful.”

Actor Alistair Smyth said: “With Covid, the desire to get out and interact has been so much more. We have been stuck inside for so long."

“It may seem like a small market, but it is so much bigger than that.”

Market stallholder Chris Hutt took part in the re-enactment too and called it “good fun”. He said: “It brought people in, it brings business to the town. It was a great re-enactment, a bit of history.

“I think it was great, we like joining in and it’s a bit of fun for everyone.”



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