Bringing history to life

A nurse watches over the soldiers on the ward at Dunham Massey's Stamford Hospital recreation

The dramatic approach which allowed visitors to become immersed in the past was key to the success of 'Sanctuary from the Trenches'.

Visitors to the hospital could come across different characters on their trip around the house. The characters were able to interact with each other and have conversations, but they were oblivious to the visitors around them.

Setting the scene

We worked with a great team to develop some live interpretation to help us tell the story of the hospital. After taking advice from the wonderful Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester we appointed artistic director Andrew Barry to lead the creative team.

Four local playwrights – Becky Prestwich, Andrew Sheridan, Lee Thompson and Adam Usden – looked at archive sources and wrote imaginative interpretations responding to what they’d found.

Some of the characters were based on soldiers and nurses at the Stamford Hospital, others were imagined characters inspired by the playwrights’ research into this and other hospitals.