What happened to the Topluddle Martyrs families when their men were transported to Australia? A powerful folk-drama will explore how the women and children had to pull together ‘to win the day.’
After their menfolk became ‘marked men,’ the wives and children of the six Dorset farm labourers became social pariahs. Left without family breadwinners and facing prejudice at every turn for their class, religion and gender, discover how these women’s lives were changed forever.
Acclaimed folk-drama To Win The Day, by Dorset-based group Time & Tide, uses historical record combined with folk music of the time and area to tell the story of women facing adversity.
The cast will tread the boards in the courtroom at Shire Hall Historic Courthouse Museum on March 27th at 7.30pm. This is of course, the very room above which the Martyrs were kept for three days without light, before being hauled into the dock to face judgement.
Creator Sophie Wright, said the play was a ‘familiar story told from a new, female, perspective.’ She said: “It follows Betsy Loveless, her two sisters-in-law Sarah and Dinniah and her niece, Eliza whose lives are altered irrevocably when their men-folk are convicted for ‘swearing an illegal oath’ and transported to Australia.
“The families lost their wage-earners and were refused parish relief. They were only saved from eviction by the Union Club and the growing nationwide recognition of the injustice of the sentence meted out to the Tolpuddle men. After the return of their husbands, father and sons, life does not revert to the one they had had before; the families move first to Essex and then to Canada where they face many new challenges. Through all this their loyalty and courage keeps them going.”
She added that for a lot of the time the women were in the dark about what was happening to their men and in the wider national picture around the union movement. Sophie added: “Because the women don’t know what’s going on, it’s not as political as the mens’ story would be. It’s about women who hung on in there; they were incredibly loyal and courageous.”
The group will also be performing at The Allendale Centre, Wimborne, on June 9th and at the Springhead Trust, Fontmell Magna, near Shaftesbury on October 13th.
Find out more via shirehalldorset.org or call 01305 261849.