Come and join the chairman and academic director of the Thomas Hardy Society in a talk about Mary Channing.
Monday 29th July 2024
Starts 15:00 until 17:00
Shire Hall Museum, High West Street, Dorchester, Dorset, DT1 1UY

Talk: Mary Channing

Come and join the chairman and academic director of the Thomas Hardy Society in a talk about Mary Channing.

In 1706, nineteen-year-old Mary Channing was convicted of poisoning her husband and became the last woman to be burned at the stake in Dorset. Despite her impressive attempts to defend herself, the jury had taken only half an hour to find her guilty. Yet on pronouncement of the death sentence, Mary ‘pleaded her belly’ and this postponed her execution until after she had given birth to her child in gaol.

When the day finally arrived, her execution was made into something of a country fair, with 10,000 spectators gathering to view the barbaric ordeal upon the floor of Dorchester’s ancient henge, Maumbury Rings. Although the law extended an act of clemency allowing for Mary to be strangled to death before the fires were lit, there is evidence to suggest that she was still alive when consigned to the flames . The writer Thomas Hardy always doubted her guilt and Channing was the inspiration for his poem ‘ The Mock Wife’ and she is also mentioned in ‘ The Mayor of Casterbridge’(1886).

Monday 29th July, 3pm

£6 ticket

Shire Hall Museum
High West Street

To book your ticket, please visit Shire Hall Museum’s shop or click here

This event is held in conjunction with Shire Hall Museum  and the Thomas Hardy Society Conference.

The talk is at 3pm at Shire Hall Museum on Monday 29th July and is followed at 7pm by an open-air theatre performance called ‘Mary’ given by the students of Wey Valley Academy to be held at Maumbury Rings . Tickets for the performance £5 in cash only on the door.

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