Page last updated at 14:06 GMT, Sunday, 21 February 2010

Campaign to save 200-year-old Kenton Theatre

The theatre was first established in 1805

A campaign is under way to raise £1.5m to save an Oxfordshire theatre, which is believed to be one of the oldest in the UK.

The Kenton Theatre, in Henley, opened in 1805 and celebrated its bicentenary in 2005.

But its management committee wants to buy the freehold from owners, Henley Municipal Charities, to secure its independence.

Poet Pam Ayres is backing the campaign and has put on a charity performance.

Campaigners from Kenton for Keeps have to raise £350,000 to buy the freehold of the venue by the end of July, and £1.5m over two years.

Wendy Bowsher, managing director, said: "It's a fantastic opportunity and it would just be a shame to lose it and we don't intend to.

"This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and that's why it's so important and we believed it's a project for the whole community.

"The trustees want to make sure it will remain a theatre for the next 200 years and much more."

The theatre opened in November 1805 with the play The School of Reform or How to Rule a Husband, by Thomas Morton, which was performed again in 2005 as part of its bicentenary celebrations.

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