Bentham Project


Forde Abbey In Dorset ― A Programme of Memories

Devised by Norah Richardson.

Download an .mp3 recording of the play.

This is a new recording of a programme first broadcast on BBC Radio on Sunday 4 April 1937. The author, Norah Richardson, used Bentham's time at the Abbey (1814-18) as a framing device through which to explore the history of the Abbey from its foundation. Bentham, and James Mill's two eldest children John Stuart and Wilhelmina Mill question the gardener and the cook, and as they reply the dialogue fades into scenes from Abbey life, some real and some apocryphal. The recording lasts for 53 minutes.


Jeremy BenthamPaul Jesson
Jarge / Inigo JonesNeil McCaul
James Mill / Mr Gwyn / 2 nd MonkKieran Hill
Sir Samuel Romilly / Count Orloff /
Sir Edmund Prideaux
Sam Kelly
Clubman / 1 st MonkKen Shorter
2 nd NarratorJoanna Tope
Lady Adelicia / Lady RomillyJanet Spencer-Turner
Elizabeth FryDarlene Johnson
CookieMarty Cruickshank
Old Abbot / John BradfordBrian Protheroe
WilhelminaCharlotte Brimble
1 st Narrator / John Stuart Mill /
Prior / 3rd Monk
Tom Walker
Mrs Mill / Mistress GwynJill Baker
2 nd Gardener / Thomas Chard / WaiterVincent Brimble

Jason Carr

John Service

Tom Service

Ken Shorter

EditorDay MacAskill
ProducerCatherine Fuller
DirectorMartin Duncan

Recorded at the UCL Union Film & TV recording studio by Ric Lipson and Matthew Milner on 17 and 19 December 2008.

This programme was first broadcast by BBC Radio West and Wales on Sunday 4 April 1937. We are grateful to the grandchildren of Norah Richardson, her residual legatees, for their kind permission to record the piece.

The piano music is a specially recorded version of Linden Lea by Ralph Vaughan Williams (courtesy of Boosey & Hawkes), based on the poem 'My Orchard in Linden Lea' by the Dorset poet William Barnes. Extracts from other poems within the piece come from William Barnes 'Sound O'Water', and 'Our Fathers' Works', and Thomas Deloney 'A Pleasant Dialogue betweene plaine Truth and blind Ignorance'. 'The Jolly Ploughboy' is a traditional English folksong.

Working from the 1937 script, we have endeavoured to make the recording an accurate representation of the original broadcast. The only significant change we have made is the rephrasing of Bentham's greatest happiness principle from the 'greatest good of the greatest number', to the more accurate 'greatest happiness of the greatest number'.

The Bentham Project is very grateful to everyone who contributed towards the recording. We would like to thank Jane Howell for helping to initiate the project, and Zeb Soanes for taking the role of Radio Announcer. We would also like to thank Lisa Gosbee, Frank Penter, Martin Reid, and Beth Sockett at UCL for their help and advice. And finally we would like to thank all the actors, musicians, editor, and director, who generously gave up a considerable amount of their own time to record and to edit this piece.

© Bentham Project, UCL.March 2009

Catherine Fuller, 'It is the theatre of great felicity to a number of people: Bentham at Forde Abbey', Journal of Bentham Studies (2004)Further Reading:

Details of a visit to Forde Abbey made by members of the Bentham Project in 2003.

Official Forde Abbey website.