The Unprecedented Case

In October 1545, Sir Ralph Sadleir learned that his wife and mother of seven surviving children, Ellen Mitchell, had been married before. In order to save his reputation and legitimise both his marriage and his children, his employer and close friend Henry VIII passed an Act of Parliament annulling Ellen’s previous marriage, on the grounds that her husband Matthew Barre had abandoned her. This private Act of Parliament was never publicised.

‘The Unprecedented Case’ is a commission for an innovative performance-piece for mixed ensemble, electronics, live-typed text projections and puppetry. This distinctive new musical storytelling will involve 30 SEND and Pupil Premium Year Six pupils, working together with a group of musicians and puppeteers. The piece will tell three stories from the history of local Hackney museum Sutton House in a highly engaging and visually stimulating way.

The project will take place at Sutton House over seven days, with literacy, music and puppetry workshops led by the artists, culminating in a free performance of the piece by both the artists and children. The pupils and artists will also be taken on a trip to the Houses of Parliament, for a full tour and to see an Act of Parliament relating to one of the stories, dating from 1545.