Rowena Cade

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Rowena Cade
Rowena Cade.png
Born2 August 1893
Spondon, Derbyshire, England
Died26 March 1983 (1983-03-27) (aged 89)
RelativesKatharine Burdekin (sister)

Rowena Cade (1893–1983) was the creator of the Minack Theatre in Porthcurno, Cornwall, UK.

Cade was born in Spondon near Derby on 2 August 1893.[1] She was the older sister of Katharine Burdekin and with her two brothers they lived at The Homestead in Spondon. Rowena Cade's family sold their house in Spondon and Cheltenham and moved to Lamorna in West Penwith, Cornwall after the First World War.[2]

Plaque commemorating the founder and builder of the Minack Theatre
Plaque commemorating the founder and builder of the Minack Theatre

She discovered and bought the Minack headland in the 1920s for £100 and built a house.[3][4] Her sister's marriage had ended in 1922 and she, and later her partner, also lived in Minack.[5]

After Cade put on a local production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 1929, she began searching for a suitable venue for a permanent outdoor stage.[6] The theatre is carved into the granite cliffs at Porthcurno, just a few miles from Land’s End.[6]

She built the theatre herself with the help of her gardener Billy Rawlings in 1931–32.[7] The stage took six months to build and the first performance was of Shakespeare's The Tempest in summer 1932. Without any formal lighting, the performance used batteries and car headlights to light the stage.[4]

In 1976, Cade gave the theatre to a charitable trust.[4] She died on 26 March 1983.[8] The Cade family continued to be involved in the theatre – the general manager in 2015 was married to Rowena's great niece.[9] The theatre is now managed by Philip Jackson and has featured in a number of BBC programmes about the South West of Britain.[10][11]


  1. ^ Rowena Cade, Creator of the Minack Theatre, cornwall-calling, Retrieved 26 June 2017
  2. ^ "Rowena Cade - Creator of the Minack Theater". Cornwall Guide. 7 January 2013. Retrieved 26 June 2017.
  3. ^ "Minack Theatre history & Rowena Cade |". Cornwall For Ever!. Retrieved 26 June 2017.
  4. ^ a b c "In Pictures: Rowena Cade's Minack theatre". BBC News. 24 March 2013. Retrieved 26 June 2017.
  5. ^ Katharine Burdekin (1989). The End of this Day's Business. Feminist Press at CUNY. pp. 163–. ISBN 978-1-55861-009-5.
  6. ^ a b "Carved in granite, the Minack Theatre was more than merely a stage for Miss Cade". Retrieved 26 June 2017.
  7. ^ "Our history - Minack Theatre". Minack Theatre. Retrieved 26 June 2017.
  8. ^ "Engineering Timelines - Minack Theatre". Retrieved 26 June 2017.
  9. ^ Desforges, Kate Elizabeth (January 2015). "Burdekin's Utopian Visions: A Study of Four Interwar Texts". PhD Thesis – via University of Hull. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  10. ^ "Minack Theatre - drama by the sea, Coastal Path - BBC One". BBC. Retrieved 26 June 2017.
  11. ^ Countryfile (25 April 2016), Minack Theatre and Rowena Cade (Cornwall) - BBC - 24th April 2016, archived from the original on 21 December 2021, retrieved 26 June 2017