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The Shaftesbury Tales: Summer 2024

This is a community project, and there's lots to join in with!

Write the Tales with us, help turn them into performances pieces, jump up on stage alongside us,

be entertained, explore our history, and walk with us along St Edwards Way.

Supported with public funding from Arts Council England and Dorset Council,

and in collaboration with Doppelganger Productions, Artsreach, and The Shaftesbury Fringe


It’s Dorset in the Dark Ages

Join us in ‘The Pilgrims Inn’ as our merry company rests for the evening on their journey to Edwards shrine in Shaftesbury, entertaining each other – and everyone else - with Tales of murder and miracles, music and mayhem.

Inspired by Chaucer, and the terrible fate of teenage King Edward the Martyr in Corfe, Treehouse Theatre takes a mischievous peek into life 1000 years ago. ‘The Shaftesbury Tales’ is walking from Corfe to Shaftesbury , village to village, stopping to perform hilarious and interactive family shows along the way.

The Shaftesbury Tales have arisen from the collective creativity of the people of Dorset!
Woven through the central Tale of Edward the Martyr, are Tales written by local people and entered in our short story writing competition held this spring. What happened when? Who saw what? Who lived to tell the Tale...and who didn’t?!  All of the winning stories can be read in the booklet-programme which accompanies the show (also called ‘The Shaftesbury Tales’, of course!).

Some of the stories have been adapted for this performance by Treehouse Theatre and local theatre groups.

Walking from Corfe to Shaftesbury in July, stopping along the way to perform The Tale of E

Image by Delphine Jones 

Short Story Writing Competition


A huge thank you to everyone who wrote and submitted a story for ‘The Shaftesbury Tales’ Short Story Writing Competition. SISATA Director Charmaine K who sat on the judging panel said “We were blown away by the high quality and amazing variety of stories”.

Congratualtions to all the Winners! They will enjoy a cash prize, performance tickets, and see their story published in our booklet-programme.

Inspired by Chaucer, ‘The Shaftesbury Tales’ is a collection of stories – both written and performed.

Treehouse Theatre are now working with local theatre groups to adapt some of the winning and highly commended stories for performance in July.

Winners post 1 - names.png

With grateful thanks to our Judges:

John Foster

(BAFTA award winning founder of Doppelganger Productions)

Dee Hughes

(Arts University Bournemouth &

Charmaine K

(SISATA Open Air Theatre & Doppelganger Productions)

Ben Lindsey-Clark

(Creative Director Treehouse Theatre)

Listen again!

Alfred FM interviews competition winners Stuart and Anne about their stories.  This is Alfred,11th April edition, from 31:50

The Peasant's Tale by Lyra Spencer(1).jpg

Read all the winning Tales here

The Brother's Tale by Betsy Wragg.jpg
Kenric's Tale by Jacob Wall.jpg
The Traitor's Tale by Stuart Edwards(1).jpg
The Tale of Ferocious 'F' by Giulia Rose Ceccolini.jpg
Ælfthryth’s Tale by Anne Philpott.jpg
The Tale of the Doctor’s Daughter by Coco Bichard.jpg
The Dagger's Tale by Juno-Blake Cree(1).jpg
Timeliners Publicity 10.jpg

How to get involved!

Write a Tale!

This is a tale-telling competition, as was Chaucers ‘The Canterbury Tales’.

During the Spring, a storytelling competition will everyone of any age living in Dorset to have their pieces included in the touring work.

Cash prizes and plenty of glory: The winning Tales will be collected together and published

as a booklet-programme: 'The Shaftesbury Tales', with some adapted into performance pieces for the touring show.

Look out for our creative writing workshops aimed at sharing writing skills and inspiration to empower new writers to enter the competition. The workshops and competition are free and open to all ages and abilities; children must be accompanied.

COMPETITION CLOSED! Well done to all that entered; Winners announced above!

Adapt a story for performance

During early summer, four local theatre groups will take on the challenge to each adapt a winning entry from the story-telling competition  into a Tale for performing, with support from our professional team.

Each of the theatre groups will perform their Tale as part of the main production on a different day!

All the theatre groups we're working with are well established and offer wonderful local performance opportunities, and are always looking for new members - so if you'd like to get involved in local theatre, now is a great time to throw yourself in! 

Double Act Theatre Group

Remix the Originals (Activate performing Arts)

Sturminster Newton Amatuer Dramatic Society (SNADS)


Perform with us

Join a drama workshop - open to all - where you can learn performance skills, make new friends,

and help us put together 'The Pilgrims Tale' which you can then perform as part of that evenings show.

The workshops are free when booking a performance ticket, and open to all ages and abilities.

Places limited - BOOKING ESSENTIAL - children must be accompanied.


Sunday 14th July - Workshop 1pm-2pm (Wareham Library) & performance 4pm (Wareham Priory Church)

Saturday 20th July - Workshop 2-3pm & performance 4pm - Childe Okeford Village Hall

Thursday 25th July - Workshop 4pm & performance 7pm - Shaftesbury Abbey

Friday 26th July - Workshop 11am & performance 2pm - St Peters Church Shaftesbury

Saturday 27th July - Workshop 11am & performance 2pm - St Peters Church Shaftesbury

Watch a show!

We'll be performing along the way, as we walk from Corfe to Shaftesbury.

Each performance of ‘The Shaftesbury Tales’ is unique. A combination of Tales performed by our professional cast, local theatre groups, people who have joined that days workshop; Tales from the Dark Ages which have echoed down the centuries,

centred around the mysterious (and slightly bloodthirsty) Tale of Edward the Martyr. 

Interactive, funny, musical and irreverent, with audience participation, every performance will be a unique, shared, community experience. ‘The Shaftesbury Tales’ will be performed at key locations throughout the Walk, starting in Corfe Church and concluding at Shaftesbury Fringe Festival. Performances are suitable for all, age guide 4+.

Thursday 11th July - St Edwards Church, Corfe Castle - 7pm

Friday 12th July - St Edwards Church, Corfe Castle - 7pm

Sunday 14th July - Wareham Priory Church of our Lady - 4pm

Monday 15th July - Wareham Priory Church of our Lady - 7pm

Thursday 18th July - Dunbury Academy School, Winterbourne Whitechurch - 7pm

Saturday 20th July - Childe Okeford Village Hall - 4pm

Monday 22nd July - Springhead Trust - 7pm

Thursday 25th July - Shaftesbury Abbey - 7pm

Friday 26th July - St Peters Church Shaftesbury - 2pm

Saturday 27th July - St Peters Church Shaftesbury - 2pm


Walk with us

Performance days will alternate with Pilgrimage days. Everyone is invited to walk with us, following the pilgrimage route of St Edwards Way (costumes provided!), for an hour, a day, a week. Pilgrimage is walking with intention; this nature- and story-based experience will immerse walkers in the Dorset landscape and its folklore, and feel its history come to life. 


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TST character group3.png

The Story so far...

The Shaftesbury Tales began with Creative Writing workshops, to inspire and inform people of all ages, to pick up a pen and get creative. 


Thank you to everyone who came along!

These free events were generously hosted by Shaftesbury Arts Centre & Scribblers Writing Group, Wareham Library, and Sturminster Newton Library.

The workshops were led by 3 industry professionals: John Foster (BAFTA award winning founder of Doppelganger Dialogues), Charmaine K (SISATA Open Air Theatre), and Ben Lindsey-Clark (Treehouse Theatre).

Writing workshops - all.jpg
Short Story Writing Competition - flyer for social media.jpg

The writing competition closed on 18th March - the date of Edwards murder (and now his feast day).

Just shy of 100 stories were read, enjoyed and deliberated over by our 4 strong judging panel:

John Foster (BAFTA award winning founder of Doppelganger Dialogues)

Dee Hughes (Arts University Bournemouth)

Charmaine K (SISATA Open Air Theatre),

Ben Lindsey-Clark (Treehouse Theatre).


The Yak Pack Theatre Project, which took theatre to remote parts of the Indian Himalayas in 2018 and 2022, on foot, with our props and costumes carried by donkeys, was the original inspiration for The Shaftesbury Tales.

Arriving in rural communities on foot was a wonderful way to connect with people, especially children, and enabled us bring immersive live theatre to places which wouldn't normally experience it. Now its Dorsets turn!

show 11 - IMG_2283 (2).JPG
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