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Dorchester Restaurant Has A Theatrical Past

Red Umbrella

11:54am 3rd June 2014

The owner of a Dorchester restaurant has discovered his premises has a theatrical past.

John Fiori from The Horse With The Red Umbrella has been researching the history of his shop on High West Street.

He's found out in 1828 it opened as The Loyalty Theatre, where celebrated English actor Edmund Kean once performed.

Kean came to Dorchester in 1813 with his son who was suffering the effects of measles.  While they were in Dorchester the child grew worse and died.  Kean's son is buried in Holy Trinity Church Yard.

John says knowing that Kean acted at what is now his restaurant is an impressive legacy;

" It only sat 45 people but to think that a person of Kean's calibre performed here, I think that's pretty awe inspiring."

And it was a fact that also impressed writer Thomas Hardy, who in 1924 was in correspondence with the actor manager Harley Granville Barker about Kean's acting in Dorchester.  Hardy wrote "I can hardly imagine a sadder spectacle than poor Kean, weary, with the boy at his back, trudging into the town, on that for him, a memorable occasion."

Thomas Hardy took a great interest in the Dorchester Playhouses.  He bought several of his famous guests to see the building.

Oscar Winning writer Julian Fellowes has unveiled a story board at The Horse With The Red Umbrella which will tell customers about its heritage.

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