In 1904, R. H. Archibald, Hugo R. Bird, Douglas D. Duncan, F.E.D. Townsend and Francis W. Watts, formed a Society for the presentation of plays in Brentwood. “Old Soldiers”, a comedy by H.J. Byron was chosen for its first production, and all five founder members took part, the cast also included Mrs. F.W. Watts, Miss Edith Duschesne and Miss Worrall.

From its foundation until his death in 1951, the Club’s President was Cyril Maude who always took a consistent a interest in its welfare. The first Vice Presidents were Mr and Mrs Kendal of stage fame and the author W. W. Jacobs. The Club patrons included many well known actors and actresses; Sir Charles Wyndham, Sir George Alexander, H.B. Irving, Lewis Waller, Lena Aswell, Mary Clare, Fay Compton, Constance Cummings, Naughton Wayne and Stephen Murray, the last named having first acted as a boy at Brentwood School.

These distinguished individuals were not mere figureheads, for instance Cyril Maude would always send a message of good wishes before each production. In 1922 when the Club presented “Grumpy”, one of his greatest successes on the London stage, he attended a rehearsal and coached the principals. Early Vice Presidents, Mr Francis W. Watts, Mr Hugo Bird and Mr James Hough all offered their untiring --' work and enthusiasm. Subsequently the Club was honoured by the Presidency of Sir Ralph Richardson.

First performances were in Brentwood at the Town Hall and later in the Drill Hall, but the Club’s home since 1924 has, by the courtesy of the Governors and Headmaster, been the Brentwood School Memorial Hall. However, on two special occasions performances were at the Hutton Residential Schools and the Masonic Hall in Hutton. Other performances took place outside Brentwood and some productions went “on tour”, one such performance was at the Court Theatre in London.

1954 marked the 50th Anniversary of the Marlborough Dramatic Club, a jubilee which few amateur dramatic clubs were able to celebrate at that time. The Club therefore felt proud that it was among some of the oldest dramatic societies in the country. During 50 years, 128 plays were performed amounting to 363 performances. The aims of the Club were not only to provide dramatic entertainment for members, but also stimulate an appreciation of local drama.

From the start the Club’s popularity- increased and membership, which at the inaugural meeting numbered 13, reached 248. In 1964 there were 266 members and this level of membership meant that some 650 persons came to each play. The Committee felt confident that the Club would continue its successful career in the years ahead. It was hoped that younger members, helping celebrate the Club’s Jubilee would also celebrate its Centenary when that milestone was reached in 2004. The evident confidence expressed in the 50s and 60s was certainly justifiable at the time. Nevertheless, it was possibly optimistic to assume that such levels of membership could be maintained.

The period up to the late 70s and beyond witnessed changes to The Marlborough Dramatic Club (M.D.C.) which were shared by most other dramatic clubs. The Diamond Jubilee was celebrated in 1964/65 and the membership at that time numbered some 266 enthusiasts. To celebrate the Jubilee two costume plays were performed; “Spark in Judea” and Noel Coward’s “The Marquise”, social events including play readings, continued to be held regularly and plays selected judiciously.

Local dramatic clubs are often seen to simply encourage amateurs to emulate their betters on the professional stage. “The Play is the Thing” undoubtedly, however, the whole production cycle of a given play involves a relatively large number of people - including of course, the audiences! The M.D.C. has managed to maintain a sound reputation for building classic “boxed sets”, thanks to certain individuals blessed with a flair for design and the Club remains fortunate in this respect. Two Brentwood Theatre awards for set design speak for themselves.

A recruitment campaign launched in early 1963 aimed to increase membership, (because of rising production costs). Yet, the committee was reluctant to increase subscriptions, not seeing this as a financial remedy. The vexed question of production costs remain a perennial concern.

The 1968/69 season included “Breath of Spring” by Peter Coke and was the 500th Performance by the Club. In 1970 the Brentwood Arts Council (B. A.C.) was formed and the M.D.C. became an affiliated member and still remains to this day.

The M.D.C. did eventually become more involved with a outside organisations and when “The Argus”, now a defunct local newspaper, started making annual awards to drama clubs M.D.C. actors were often nominated or won awards. The 1976 production of “The Vigil” was a particular success and performed in St. Thomas’s Church, “Florence Nightingale” produced in 1979, also proved to be a great success.

A sad event in 1983 was the death of the Club’s President for 32 years, Sir Ralph Richardson. Derek Jacobi (now Sir Derek) kindly accepted a request to replace Sir Ralph and became our President. The Club has over the years, been fortunate in its Presidents, Vice Presidents and Patrons. A past member - Alex Jennings - is now a Patron and deserves his excellent reputation as a prominent and versatile classical actor.

From the 80s onwards the M.D.C. has attempted to retain a reasonable level of membership. Naturally, the ever increasing number of TV channels has had an adverse effect generally on amateur drama in all its forms. Production costs have risen and, no doubt, will rise again. Notable plays in the 1980s were “The Cherry Orchard”, “A Man for All Seasons”, “Harvey” and “The Holly and the Ivy”, to name but four. “When we are Married” by J.B. Priestley was revived in February 1984, as an 80th Anniversary production and has been revived again for the Club’s Centenary Season.