Posted on 26 July 2023
The Broadbent Theatre in Wickenby originated from the Holton Players, a group founded by a small group of Conscientious Objectors.
The Conscientious Objectors (COs) were part of Lincolnshire’s pacifist farming community based at Holton-cum-Beckering during World War II. After working the land during the day, at evening for entertainment they met for musical renditions , singing, poetry and play reading. Everyone was welcomed to attend, whether they were from Holton or not, especially the local children.
After the war the Holton Players converted an abandoned nissen hut into a theatre and named it The Country Theatre. Unfortunately, due to an electrical fire the hut burnt down and the Holton Players became homeless . Despite not having a home of their own, The Holton Players continued to meet in the drawing room of Holton Hall staging their productions in the bay window and making their entrances and exits through the sliding sashes.
In 1970 a Methodist Chapel at Wickenby was purchased by the Holton Players. The conversion work was done by members of the group, much of it with resources provided by Roy Broadbent (father of the Oscar winning actor, Jim Broadbent) and Douglas Ballard. Roy died shortly after the theatre was opened and it was thought a fitting tribute to name it ‘The Broadbent Theatre’ in his memory.
The theatre is licensed for an audience of 100 people and is the home of Lindsey Rural Players who use the theatre for their own productions and manage its use for other organisations. The society relies totally on the support of its members and supporters for funding, receiving no grant aid from local or national government. The theatre’s activities and up-keep is done wholly on a voluntary basis.
The Lindsey Rural Players usually puts on five of their own shows and manages the staging of approximately six professional shows each year. The theatre is also available for hire to other groups and community organisations. It has been used by a local school for children with disabilities for their drama activities and is used as a polling station for the Elections.
In recognition of its pacifist roots the Broadbent Theatre is where the play Conchies was first written and performed.
Image from www.historyonthenet.com