A short history of The Broadbent

The Broadbent Theatre History

Lindsey Rural Players originated from the Holton Players, a group founded by Roy Broadbent and his wife Dee, (parents of the Oscar winning actor, Jim Broadbent) and a small community of artistically like-minded conscientious objectors who were working on the land at Holton-cum-Beckering during the World War II years. It was a time when there was little or no electricity and few wirelesses (Radios.) For evening entertainment they met for musical evenings, singing, poetry and play reading; everyone was welcomed, whether they were from Holton or not, especially the local children. Roy is quoted as saying that the reason why Holton-cum-Beckering became a remote centre of the arts, was because of the complete change of community life during the war which brought many artistically inclined people into the village who grew to love the place and decided to stay.

After the war the Holton Players converted an abandoned nissen hut into a theatre (The Country Theatre) which, due to an electrical fault, sadly met a fiery end.

The Players continued to meet in the magnificent drawing room of Holton Hall staging their productions in the bay window and making their entrances and exits through the sliding sashes!

Holton Hall, picture uploaded by Mark Robinson

In 1970 a Methodist Chapel at Wickenby was purchased by the Holton Players. This chapel for the Free Methodists (later United Methodists) was opened in May 1878 and the last service held in December 1967.

The name ‘Wickenby’ derives from the Old Norse víkinga-býr meaning ‘farm/settlement of Vikingr’ or ‘farm/settlement of the Vikings’. Wickenby existed at the time of Domesday Book of 1086 when it consisted of fifteen households and was known as ‘Wichingbee’.

The conversion work was done by members of the group, much of it with resources provided by Roy and Douglas Ballard.

Roy Broadbent as Fagin in Oliver 1969

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 (LRP) 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.

LRP 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.

L.R.P. is a member of The Little Theatre Guild of Great Britain, an organisation which supports the owners of independently controlled amateur theatres. They hold regular training seminars and produce literature containing information on the Government Acts relevant to theatres and advice to theatres in order to help them run efficiently.

Lindsey Rural Players is a registered charity. Our President is Jim Broadbent the international star of stage, film and TV. He is the son of Roy Broadbent one of our founders mentioned above.