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Seebohm Rowntree's 150th Birthday

Seebohm Rowntree's 150th Birthday

posted 05 Jul 2021

A very special afternoon tea will be held on the stage of the Joseph Rowntree Theatre on Wednesday  7 July, to mark the 150th anniversary  of the theatre’s founder, Seebohm Rowntree. He opened the theatre, which is named after his father, in 1935.

Participants at the champagne tea party secured their places by making generous donations to the theatre’s “Raise the Roof” appeal, which was set up last year to raise £90,000 to fund the shortfall in monies necessary to repair the theatre’s leaking roofs. In addition, one lucky couple at the tea party are winners of a competition run by the local Your Local Link magazine, on behalf of the theatre.

Graham Mitchell, the theatre’s Community Engagement Director said: “When we found out that it was Seebohm’s 150th birthday on the date of our special afternoon tea, it was even more of a reason to celebrate! I started doing a bit of digging into his life history, alongside Clive Goodhead, our theatre’s archivist, and it makes for fascinating reading. Not only was he responsible for the creation of our community theatre, in the 1930s & 40s he also played a huge part in ensuring the survival and eventual success of York Theatre Royal.”

The afternoon tea will see the stage set at its finest, with linen tablecloths, glasses of champagne and vases of local flowers all worthy of York’s finest afternoon tea establishments.  The velvet drapes of the curtains, the professional waiting staff and the accompanying music will all add to the drama and theatre of the event.

Dan Shrimpton, chair of trustees of the theatre added: “This will be a really special occasion for the theatre.  We’ll be marking the ongoing success of our appeal, the celebration of our founder’s birthday and showcasing one of the many alternative ways we’ve found to use our space more creatively during difficult times.”

Photo credit: Joseph Rowntree Foundation/Borthwick Institute for Archives