Earliest records suggest festivals developing in celebration of Barnstaple's annual fair as far back as 1435, when merchants brought with them Minstrels, Players, Jugglers and Buffoons to amuse onlookers. As a thriving trading port, Barnstaple attracted a broad range of multi-cultural traders developing the town's reputation for festival events. It is documented that a festival in 1605 attracted the touring King's Players to the town and it is thought that a certain William Shakespeare performed with them!
Barnstaple has produced its own notable contributors to the world of theatre including John Gay, best known for the 'Beggar's Opera'. With the rise of puritanism in the early 17th century, theatrical activities declined until a popular resurgence finally saw Barnstaple's first theatre built in Honey Pot Lane (now Theatre Lane) in 1760, six years ahead of Bristol's first theatre.
Contact: Boutport Street, Barnstaple
Phone: 01271 324242