BRIEF HISTORY of The ARDEN THEATRE
In 1947 a new drama Group, The Faversham Players, was formed. They performes at
various venues in Faversham until the early 1970’s when a Faversham solicitor Leslie Smith donated land for a swimming pool and a corner of this land contained a coach
house which he donated to the Faversham Players. The coach house was converted into a 72 seat theatre named after Thomas Arden, a local “worthy” in Henry VIII’s time who made himself very unpopular and got murdered by his wife’s lover. This prompted the first english play about ordinary people, rather than nobility or gods, written in Shakespeare’s time but probably not by him. (other than, possibly, a short section) A very tenuous
connection with Shakespear’s Arden! The old Arden opened on 25 th May with a play
written by Maurice Patterson, one of the founders of the theatre, ‘Cold Old Blow’ a topical play about Faversham.
In 1992 work started on an indoor swimming pool adjoining the existing outdoor pool, but the old Arden Theatre was in the way so negotiations lead to the coach house theatre’s demolition and replacement with a new 98 seat theatre. However, this theatre was not ideal, it was probably designed to be converted into a gym, or similar, when the theatre failed. This never happened. Instead the Theatre initiated a number of improvements
inside the building and in the garden.
But first there was an early attempt to extend the theatre in 1994, which came to nothing due to the resignation from the committee by Ms Robin Gregory the fund-raiser.
In 2002 the very tall foyer had a floor inserted over, to form a costume store, and the
raised planters were added to the garden with the planter edges designed as seating
benches. This was followed by the creation of another new floor, this time over the
dressing room to create a small auxillary dressing room upstairs. In 2005 a dedicated
entrance to the theatre was created, so the audience did not need to enter the theatre via the swimming pool entrance, and in 2006 the container was installed in the garden for storage of scenery flats, etc. In 2010 the large dying Norway Maple tree was felled and a replacement hornbeam planted in the Arden car park. Then in 2018 the foyer and bar were revamped and the ghastly backstage loo changed into a paint store.
Finally in 2017 the proposed side extension design was finalised and a planning
application was made and approved on 7 th March 2019. Therefore, site work needs to have made a ‘meaningful’ start by 7 th March 2022, or we will need to reapply for Planning permission. It is possible that this can be extenfed due to the Covid pandemic.