Cotswold Amphitheatre at Dor Knap, Broadway

Publication: Evesham Journal, 1971

Amphitheatre at Dor Knap, Broadway
Mr C.J. Trinder, warden (left) and Mr C.J. Thornbury, a helper at Dor Knap, 1971 ©Evesham Journal

If archaeologists in the year 2071 decide to excavate the site of Dor Knap near Broadway, they may well be puzzled when they come across a small amphitheatre built into the side of the hill.

For although the theatre is in classic style, it belongs not to Roman or Greek times, but to the 20th century. It has been built during recent months by Tom H members at their Dor Knap Conference Centre.

The amphitheatre lies in a natural hollow overlooking the Vale and high above Broadway. The terraces have been dug from the hillside, and the small stage is of concrete, with a cherry tree as a permanent prop, and the beauty of the countryside as a backdrop.

Mr C.J. Trinder is the Warden of the Conference Centre, and he explained this week the purpose of this latest addition to Top H’s facilities. He said: “We are Toc H are trying to encourage the arts and crafts because people have such a lot of leisure time these days. One of the men in charge of our artistic ventures is the Rev. John Hull, and the theatre was really his idea.

“Work really started about six months ago. We have had all sorts of people here to help – one of the aims of Toc H is to break down the barriers which keep people apart. We have had schoolchildren, college students, and of course members of the movement, who come here for training, or on conferences. A lot of people stay for a week or two, and have a sort of working holiday.

“They come here from all over the country, and they get a lot of satisfaction from the work they do here. For instance, there is a group of men from Llanarmon-Yn-Ial in Wales who are experts in stone wall work. They have worked on Conway Castle and places like that, they always come here and build walls for us.”

Dor Knap – it means “the place on the hill” – is reached by driving up a long, narrow track which meanders up the hillside until it gets to the centre which Toc H have leased from Lord Dulverton at a peppercorn rent since 1959.

Among the facilities at the centre are a conference room, a games room, a library and a chapel. About 1,000 people a year stay there during the year, but Mr Trinder estimates that altogether, between two and three thousand visitors make the climb to the top.

The amphitheatre, which Mr Trinder hopes will be completed this week, will first be used for the Cotswold Festival which Toc H are organising at the beginning of September. The semi-circular terraces will seat about 100 people, and Mr Trinder commented: “It is only a temporary arrangement at the moment, but we will make it more permanent. We don’t expect huge crowds at the festival this year but hope that it will build up over the years.”

And so, work at the Conference Centre continues and will continue as long as Toc G members wish to further their ideal of promoting friendship and understanding.

Their desire to promote the arts will be much enhanced by the provision of the amphitheatre, the setting of which will add another dimension to any work performed there.