Twelve months hard labour for the ‘crime’ of having an illegitimate child.
Set between 1789 and 1835, the play offers a glimpse of the social and financial context in which women were charged with the crime of Bastardy. They spent twelve months with hard labour in the New County Bridewell in Winchester.
Intended for lesser offenders and prisoners awaiting trial, the Bridewell was built in 1789 on the site of Hyde Abbey, the burial place of Alfred the Great. It was part of the 18th century movement towards prison reform.
The play was inspired by research in the Hampshire Record Office, where the names and offences of these ‘Lewd Women’ are recorded. Several of the women and their babies are buried in the churchyard of St. Bartholomew’s, Hyde. The women’s names are known but not their circumstances, so the play tells their stories through ballads and folksongs.
A work-in-progress, *Lewd Women and Female Felons* is a play for voices, written by Cecily O’Neill, Artistic Director of 2TmeTheatre.
Running time: 45 minutes
Age recommendation: 12+
Contains infrequent strong language