It was the most infamous murder case in the history of Henley. On 6 April 1752 Mary Blandy was hanged outside Oxford Castle for murdering her father Francis Blandy, a lawyer and Henley’s town clerk.
Now, 270 years on, an audience at the Kenton theatre will have the chance to re-hear the evidence and act as the jury to decide if Mary had suffered a miscarriage of justice after they watch the play Mary: A Retrial on Tuesday 5 April at 7.30pm.
Mary was due to be married to Marine Captain William Cranstoun until her father discovered that he was a cad, a scoundrel and, most damaging of all, already married.
Francis kicked him out of the family home in Hart Street and he returned to his native Scotland from where he and Mary continued to correspond. Eventually Cranstoun sent Mary some powder which he claimed was a potion which would have the effect of getting Francis to like him again and so consent to the marriage – and acquire a £10,000 dowry.
However the powder was arsenic. Mary fed her father a number of doses before he died a long and painful death. Mary was charged with her father’s murder and was sent to the scaffold while Cranstoun fled to Europe and freedom.
The production was the idea of the Chair of the Trustees of the Kenton, Julie Huntington and musician, playwright, former journalist and Amdram fan Mike Rowbottom and retired journalist Richard Reed.
Tickets cost £12 and all profits will go to The Chiltern Centre for young people with disabilities, off Greys Road in Henley.
The production is sponsored by solicitors Blandy & Blandy and Magoos bar and restaurant.
To book go to https://kentontheatre.co.uk/event/mary-blandy-a-retrial/