False Witness
Gavel Productions

drama

14+

adult themes

60 mins

The Guildhall

Thu at 18:30

Fri at 19:45

Sat at 19:00

False Witness
Gavel Productions

Let us take you back to 1857 where ten-year old Mary Caxton has been accused of stealing in the Pannier Market.

If convicted, she faces seven years transportation.

But is she guilty?

Here it is! Our trailer for False Witness brought to you by the brilliantly talented Diptu Media. We hope you like it! See you in court!

And that’s a wrap...!

Check out our photos of the cast of ‘False Witness’ filming our promotional trailer and social media shorts in Barnstaple’s historic Guildhall courtroom this week.

‘False Witness’ is based on the true story of ten-year-old Mary who was first tried at the Guildhall 170 years ago and faced seven years' transportation when she was caught stealing in the Pannier Market. It premiers at the Barnstaple Guildhall June 22nd - 24th as part of the Fringe Theatrefest 2023.

Huge thank you to Lucy Scarrott, Heritage and Cultural Manager for Barnstaple Town Council, for letting us take over the courtroom for a couple of hours! Also our thanks to our brilliant filmmakers at DipTu Media Production: Lily Kaufman-HIll, Toby Webb and Joseph Place.

False Witness is brought to you with the support of Barnstaple Safer Streets Community, Sparks Fund, North Devon Council, Barnstaple Town Council, and is sponsored by Sounds Sorted.

The Story Behind 'False Witness'
Producer/Co-writer Tina Orr Munro

I came up with the idea of writing and staging a play at the magnificent and historic courtroom in Barnstaple's Guildhall by sheer chance after I happened to attend a wedding there some years ago.

Even though I grew up in Barnstaple, I'd never been inside this incredible building before. As I sat in that courtroom which has barely changed since it was built in 1830, I remember thinking what a brilliantly dramatic setting it was and how special it would be to re-create the drama and atmosphere of a Victorian courtroom by bringing back a trial that was originally heard there all those years ago.

My co-writer Tim Cooke and I searched for appropriate cases. As soon as we read about Mary Caxton*, we knew we wanted to make Mary the central character of our play. Mary was just ten years old when she stood trial, accused of stealing in the Pannier market. She faced hard labour and transportation if found guilty. It is an incredible story of how justice was metered out in the 19th century and it must have been utterly terrifying for Mary to stand in that packed courtroom while others decided her fate.

We have used our artistic licence to create False Witness, but we have kept the original verdict. Like so many others, Mary didn’t have a voice in 1857. In June 2023, over 150 years after she first stood in the dock, Mary finally has a voice.