Arts + Entertainment

The Marlowe Theatre and the Canterbury Heritage Museum

THE MARLOWE Theatre plans to work with Canterbury Museums & Galleries Service, and other heritage and arts organisations, to bring new life to the Poor Priests’ Hospital (Canterbury Heritage Museum).

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The proposals for the Stour Street building would see it transformed into an arts and heritage centre. The Marlowe’s General Manager, Paula Gillespie, said: “We are excited about the possibilities working with our heritage and cultural partners would bring. Our plans are bold and visionary and put the building and remaining collections at its heart.

“We will continue to use Canterbury’s unique heritage – in particular its literary heritage – to create a space that is open and welcoming to all. One that uses our heritage to both illuminate the past and to provide creative inspiration for our writers of the future – it will be alive with activity, creativity and inspiration!”

The plans for the building include a young visitors’ programme, incorporating a digital heritage project, which will use the latest technology to bring the past to life. There is an ambition to create an augmented reality experience (using similar technologies to Pokemon Go) and a digital suite that will record oral histories connected to our heritage collections (presented both online and in exhibitions).


There would be an escape room (a physical adventure game), designed to provide an innovative way to engage young people with Canterbury’s literary heritage. Themes could include Christopher Marlowe’s escape from imprisonment in Flanders, and Joseph Conrad’s adventures at sea.

A new participation programme for young people and the broader community that includes an expansion of the highly popular Marlowe Youth Theatre, regular poetry performance slams (a competition at which poets read or recite original work), writing workshops for all ages and long-term projects with young people from economically deprived backgrounds.

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New exhibitions would bring the literary heritage of Canterbury (and the rest of Kent) to life, from Christopher Marlowe to Michael Morpurgo. These exhibitions would include artefacts from the time of Christopher Marlowe, the life of Joseph Conrad and scholarship about Marlowe’s collaboration with Shakespeare

In partnership with Workers Of Art (organisers of the Wise Words Festival), The Marlowe will create new theatre productions and spoken word performances, supporting local writers and theatre artists to make exciting new work through its Roar! and Rough Cut programmes.

The building will have office and rehearsal space for Canterbury’s growing cultural community, helping to boost the city’s creative economy.

Public consultation on proposals to transfer key exhibits and the schools’ programme from Canterbury Heritage Museum to the Beaney House of Art and Knowledge, ensuring that hundreds of thousands more people will experience them each year, will end on Wednesday (1 March).  If the proposals go ahead, the heritage museum will in future be managed for the city council by The Marlowe Theatre, working with a range of partners.

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