Wimborne Community Theatre – Allendale House
from the Stour and Avon Magazine 14.12.2007
The audience at Wimborne Community Theatre’s production Enquire Within were treated to a whistle-stop tour through the history of Allendale House.
We moved from room to room as the performers re-created scenes from the lives of previous incumbents. We saw the Castleman family dealing with rioting workers protesting at the introduction of farm machinery, and Charles Castleman’s part in bringing the railway to Wimborne.
And wandering into scenes was the sad figure of Susie Funnell, headmistress of the the girls’ school, which had to close due to incidences of diptheria.
At the end of the 19th century a series of domestic encyclopaedias, Enquire Within Upon Everything was published. Fast forward to the 1980s when Tim Berners Lee, former Wimborne resident and patron of East Dorset Heritage Trust, which is now housed at Allendale House, began to design Enquire which formed the basis of the later development of the World Wide Web. Hence the Enquire link.
Although not strictly a community play, there were similarities to the excellent Dorchester community play which received rave reviews some two weeks previously – and there was even a link with the infamous smuggler Isaac Gulliver, who went on to become a respected member of Wimborne society.
Promenade theatre is such fun as you feel part of the production, gaining eye contact with the actors, as you follow or precede them into a room.
You might – like me – be lucky enough to be mentioned by name. (I was chided by Tracie Billington Beardsley in Joyce Grenfell mode).
The whole production was hugely atmospheric and great credit must go to the large cast of actors of all ages who brought the story of the house – which at one time was home to the council’s rate offices – to life.
WCT say they are planning a larger production next year in Wimborne town centre. Don’t miss it. M.B.