The Cambridge Buddhist Centre was built in 1814 as The Barnwell theatre and the building has a fascinating history. In 1878 Robert Sayle bought it to use as a mission hall for the Evangelising Society. In 1914 it was used as a boy's club by Kings College, and in 1926 millionaire Terence Gray bought it and used it as a theatre, when it underwent huge modernisation. It was Terence Gray who renamed it The Festival Theatre. In the 1940's the theatre was used as a venue for entertaining the troops before it was bought by the Cambridge Arts Theatre as a wardrobe and store.
The Windhorse Trust bought the theatre in 1999, repaired and renovated it, so that today it is the home of a thriving spiritual community on Newmarket Road. used every day for meditation and Buddhism classes, for festivals and gatherings, and sometimes theatrical perfomances.
But there are plenty of forgotten areas, upstairs in the gods, down little-used stairs and along corridors used only for storage. I spent many weeks during my MA project crawling around the dusty and forgotten corners noting and photographing the light as it crept over the floorboards.
Have a tour of the theatre on our Open Studios weekends.