Aldermaston Players

2011 The Red Barn


Or The Murder of Maria Marten
A Melodrama, in Three Acts by Brian J. Burton

THE RED BARN is based on a true story of Maria Marten, born in Polstead, Suffolk in 1801. It was there she met William Corder, by whom she had a child that died in infancy. Corder murdered Maria, in 1827 and buried her body in the Red Barn. Maria’s father, Thomas Marten, was driven to search the barn because of his wife’s recurring dream. There he discovered the body of his daughter, Maria. Corder was arrested in London, where he had re-married, and he was tried, convicted and in 1828 was executed at Bury Goal.

The story has been told in plays many times, starting at Polstead Fair a month before the trial of Corder. There are been several titles: The Late Murder of Maria Marten, The Red Barn or The Gypsy’s Curse, The Red Barn or The Mysterious Murder, The Red Barn or The Prophetic Dream, Maria Martin and The Murder in the Red Barn.

The story has also been told in film and on television. It is the most popular of all the melodramas probably because it is based on a true story.

For more details of the story’s history and the characters involved see Wikipedia.