In 1882 a local benefactor, Walter Tebbitt, who
lived at Brook Cottage at the end of Brunswick Place built the
Shaftesbury Hall on the site of a derelict house nearby for the moral
benefit of the townspeople.
This was known as “Our Room”. Later that year Tebbit held a fundraising
event there to pay for a parochial room for the vicar. At this event, he
demonstrated Gower and Ball’s loud speaking telephone, which connected a
room in Brook Cottage to Our Room, where people could hear music and
speech from the house.
There was living accommodation for a caretaker, who strictly controlled
the use of the building. It was not popular with local people and fell
In 1950, the dilapidated building was rescued and renovated to become
the town’s Shaftesbury Theatre.
The theatre has a ghost called Esmerelda, who switches the light on and
off at critical moments. One time the cast arrived for a performance to
find every light in the theatre blazing.