The modern myth of Kitty Jay is perhaps one of the best-known stories from Dartmoor’s folklore, yet few know of its origins. Following the death of her fiancé in the First World War, writer Beatrice Chase became closely attached to the grave of the forgotten girl, Kitty Jay. Alongside fellow writer John Galsworthy, she set in trend a new tradition that continues to this day. Forever adorned with fresh flowers by a mystery mourner, Jay’s grave survives as Dartmoor’s shrine to the tragedy of abandonment…

Chasing Kitty Jay was scripted using historical records, oral history and the writings of Beatrice Chase and John Galsworthy. It was written by Artistic Director Mark Beeson as lead writer in collaboration with members of MED Theatre’s Young Company: Rachel Caverhill, Lily Earp and Elizabeth Mortimer, as well as Abby Stobart (Education Officer). The play formed part of MED Theatre’s wider Dartmoor in World War One project, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, and followed on from the Young Company production Road to Nowhere in November 2013.

What's it about?

MED theatre’s 2014 community play Chasing Kitty Jay: the creation of a wartime myth got to the heart of Dartmoor’s Kitty Jay legend, exploring how the grave of a unknown suicide became a shrine for grief in a community suffering the impact of a brutal yet remote World War. Writers Beatrice Chase (author of The Heart of the Moor) and John Galsworthy (Nobel prize winner and author of The Apple Tree, a short story based on Kitty Jay) lived in the Dartmoor parishes of Widecombe and Manaton during World War One. Both had come from London where they had witnessed the poverty of the East End and developed a vocation for social reform. It was through their creative intervention that Kitty Jay myth was born.

Performance dates

The dates of the performances were :

  • 7th March & 8th March in Manaton Parish Hall
  • 11th March in Widecombe Church
  • 13th March in Mary Tavy
  • 14th & 15th March in Moretonhampstead Parish Hall

in Rehearsals