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Nell Gwynn by Jessica Swale

Nell Gwynn

Banbury Cross Players performed Nell Gwynn by Jessica Swale at The Mill Arts Centre from 12th to 15th February 2020.

Nell Gwynn is directed by Clare Lester. Clare directed Calendar Girls and took a major part in The 39 Steps.


Nell Gwynn
Rose Gwynn
Lady Castlemaine
Old Ma Gwynn
Queen Catherine
Louise de Keroualle
King Charles II
Charles Hart
Thomas Killigrew
Edward Kynaston
John Dryden
Lord Arlington
Ned Spigget

Jo Sammons
Ann Domoney
Hilary Beaton
Hannah Ramsden
Janice Lake
Deborah Watson
Katy Roberts
Ian Nutt
Steve Ramsden
Mark Walden
Nik Lester
Jem Turner
Andrew Whiffin
Charlie Cox
John Bennett
Marylin Fairbairn,
Elizabeth Riley,
David Smith,
Jenny Tustian


Press Releases

Did You Know?

  • In 1657 Lord Arlington was made Keeper of the Privy Purse. One of his duties was procuring and managing the Royal Mistresses. See more at #BCPNellGwynn.
  • Actor Edward Kynaston – famed for playing female roles – was described by Samuel Pepys as “the loveliest lady that ever I saw in my life”. See more at  #BCPNellGwynn.
  • Portuguese Queen Catherine is credited with introducing the British to tea-drinking. See more at #BCPNellGwynn.
  • Louise da Keroualle (Duchess of Portsmouth and Charles II French mistress) was appointed Lady in Waiting to Queen Catherine. Despite being rivals for Charles’s affections, relations between the two women were amicable, unlike those with Nell. See more at  #BCPNellGwynn.
  • Lady Castlemaine (aka Barbara Palmer, 1st Duchess of Cleveland, Barbara Villiers) had five children by King Charles II – all of them acknowledged and subsequently ennobled. She has been referred to as “The Uncrowned Queen”. See more at #BCPNellGwynn.
  • Nell Gwynn is believed to have experimented with cross-dressing; her mother is said to have drowned outside her home and Nell’s sister, Rose, is reputed to have married a highwayman. What an extraordinary family! See more at #BCPNellGwynn.
  • King Charles II had seven mistresses and was nicknamed “Old Rowley” – the name of his favourite racehorse, notable as a stallion. See more at #BCPNellGwynn.
  • John Dryden was made England’s first Poet Laureate in 1668. See more at #BCPNellGwynn.
  • Thomas Killigrew was rewarded for his loyalty to Charles II during his exile by being made Groom of the Bedchamber on the King’s return to power. See more at #BCPNellGwynn.
  • Charles Hart, leading actor in the King’s Men Acting Company served as a soldier in the English Civil War? See more at #BCPNellGwynn.


13 February – Andrew Bell in the Daily Info
13 February – Alex Wood in Sardines
14 February – Lance Bassett


London, 1660. King Charles II has exploded onto the scene with a love of all things loud, extravagant and sexy. And at Drury Lane, a young Nell Gwynn is causing stirrings amongst the theatregoers.

Nell Gwynn by Jessica Swale charts the rise of an unlikely heroine, from her roots in Coal Yard Alley to her success as Britain’s most celebrated actress, and her hard-won place in the heart of the King. But at a time when women are second-class citizens, can her charm and spirit protect her from the dangers of the Court?

Photos with thanks to Mike Watling

Nell Gwynn

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