Controversial murder trial heard in Warwick 200 years ago re-enacted for festival

A controversial murder trial heard in Warwick  200 years ago is being re-enacted this weekend.

Wednesday, 2nd October 2019, 6:07 pm
Unlocking Warwick volunteers are collaborating with Warwick School and Kings High to play out the drama. Left to right:Joshua Hill, Kamen Rai and Nathaniel Allbut (Warwick School), and Emily Button (Kings High School). Photo supplied

On Sunday (October 6) the trial of Abraham Thornton for the Murder of Mary Ashford that was heard at Warwick Assizes, will be re-enacted by volunteers from Unlocking Warwick and sixth-formers from Warwick School and King’s High School.

It will be performed in the ballroom of the Court House in Jury Street and is one of the closing events of the Warwick Words Festival.

Secretary of Unlocking Warwick, Rick Thompson, who wrote the dramatisation from the original court records, said: “This case gripped the nation, with newspapers and pamphlets proclaiming the guilt of the bricklayer in the days before the trial, and on the day a huge crowd gathering outside.

“Thornton had left a late-night Whitsuntide dance with 20-year-old Mary Ashford and admitted that he had been with her at four in the morning. Two hours later her body was found dumped in a flooded sandpit.

“The case took some unexpected twists after the members of the jury delivered their verdict.

“It’s very interesting to discover how justice was conducted in the early 19th century, before there were professional police forces, and it’s great to have drama students from local schools playing the parts of the accused and the young witnesses.

“There are no longer any courts in The Court House, but the restored Regency ballroom is an appropriate venue for an event that happened here during the Regency period.”

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