Berwick upon Tweed

Berwick upon Tweed has been part of England since 1482; prior to this, border wars between the Kingdoms of England and Scotland saw the town change hands for more than 400 years. Following his success with Douglas the playwright John Home wanted to produce a border tragedy which he realised with the Siege of Aquilia debuting at Garrick’s Drury Lane in 1760. David Erskine Baker’s Biographica Drammatica drew attention to the similarity between the play and King Stephen’s treatment of the Scottish sheriff of Berwick-on-Tweed in 1333; it is thought that Home changed the location to Italy for fear of offending the Duchess of Northumberland.

The romantic star George Frederick Cooke grew up in Berwick and received his first experience of theatre by watching strolling companies that visited the town. Later in the century Stephen Kemble opened a theatre at Berwick in a disused malt-house at the back of the King’s Arms Inn on 11 August 1794. At the opening the freemasons attended in force, remaining patrons throughout the theatre’s existence. The theatre was usually opened a week or two before the Lamberton Races in the first week of July and continued for three or four weeks. The Cumbrian stroller Charlotte Lowes also performed in the town on several occasions in the early nineteenth century.

Berwick was a county in its own right and a separate parliamentary constituency until 1885 when it was merged to become a division of Northumberland.

Associations to Berwick upon Tweed