Encounters: Lady Mary Wortley Montagu

Lady Mary Wortley Montagu is remembered as the woman who introduced inoculation into Britain. The National Trust and Barnsley Museums have commissioned Gobbledegook Theatre to deliver a project exploring Lady Mary’s life in 2022.

Lady Mary Wortley Montagu is remembered as the woman who introduced inoculation into Britain. The National Trust and Barnsley Museums have commissioned Gobbledegook Theatre to deliver a project exploring Lady Mary’s life in 2022: Encounters.

Created through research and consultation, Encounters will uncover elements of Lady Mary’s extraordinary life through short films, photography and theatrical performance onsite here at Wentworth Castle Gardens.

Lady Mary was introduced to the smallpox inoculation in Turkey and brought it home to Britain, paving the way for modern vaccination and contributing to the eradication of smallpox from the world in 1980. Her work saved countless lives; in Georgian Britain, smallpox killed one in four people who contracted it.

The Sun Monument at Wentworth Castle Gardens is dedicated to her – a stone obelisk towering up into the sky, crowned by a golden sphere. It sits just down the slope from the folly of Stainborough Castle, glinting in the sun it was named for. It is the first monument in Britain dedicated to a woman for her intellectual achievements, rather than for her social standing. 

Artist Lorna Rees of Gobbledegook Theatre often makes work about science, finding playful contemporary narratives to connect with our history. Through Encounters, Lorna hopes to explore the role of women in science, women’s education, the history of preventative medicine, the sharing of cultures, and how Lady Mary’s work with inoculation impacts us today through the search for a covid vaccine.

Between 9 – 13 April, Lorna will be back at Wentworth Castle Gardens. Wearing her costume inspired by Lady Mary, she will be visiting Wentworth Castle Gardens and sharing stories about this fascinating woman’s life. If you see her, say hello!

CREDITS 
Artist: Lorna Rees 
Photography: Jayne Jackson
Costume Design: Sophie Fretwell 
Maker: Coat and Skirt Shelley Venables 
Maker: Bodice, Ruff by Kayla Bartlett
Millinery: Kelly Morgan 
Make Up: Molly Jacks 
Helga Brandt: Dramaturg
Joe Payne: Filmmaker
David Doust: Assistant Director

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