The Butcher of Rye

"Butchers shall kill Lambs"

The Butcher of Rye

One night in March 1742, John Breads, local butcher and inn-keeper, waited to kill the Mayor of Rye, James Lamb in the graveyard of St Mary’s Church.

In a bizarre twist of mistaken identity, he stabbed to death, Allen Grebell the Mayor’s brother-in-law.

Breads was found guilty of the murder and was sentenced to death by James Lamb - the intended victim. Breads’ body was hung in chains in a gibbet cage for 30 years.

Composer and Librettist

The Butcher of Rye is a new music drama composed by Simon Morecroft from a libretto by Martha Littlehailes telling the story of the murder of Allen Grebell by butcher John Breads in the graveyard of St Mary’s Church, Rye in 1742.

The legendary story is well-known in Rye and has been the subject of several books, a play and now a full-scale opera.


Workshop - Monday 7th and Tuesday 8th December 2015

Performance - Tuesday 8th December 2015 at 3.30pm

The creative team are working with Rye Arts Festival towards a world-premier of The Butcher in 2016, so on 7th and 8th December this year there is a two-day workshop culminating in a short performance of excerpts by 3 accompanied singers at 3.30pm (1530) in the Town Hall, Buttermarket, Rye TN31 7LA.

Director and Singers

The workshop and performance will be directed by Alisdair Kitchen, founder of Euphonia Opera. The singers, are also from Euphonia Opera - a London company (comprising British and international artistes) which has brought four fully-staged operas to The Rye Arts Festival in recent years, under the musical direction of Alisdair Kitchen, including 2015’s triumphant Don Giovanni.

On the back of this long-standing and successful working relationship, Rye Arts Festival has commissioned this workshop.