The importance of stories to buildings and places

by admin on 17 August 2016

 

I’ve been commissioned to write historical stories on three very different properties with 3 very different histories.

 

All of which turned out to be pleasantly challenging.

 

The first was for the East Anglian Living History Fair at the Museum of East Anglia Life in Stowmarket.

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There, in their wonderful and huge museum they have a farmhouse built around 1350 only a couple of miles away from the museum where it was rebuilt.

It was built according to record by one John Adgor who appears briefly in Edward III court rolls being elevated from serf to freeman and being granted a lease on a very well to do farm. He built the farmhouse probably within 6 months of this elevation. There he and his family survived the Black Death.

The story revolves around his life as a serf, why was he granted his freedom, and the lease, and how did he assemble enough money to build the farmhouse which has some expensive features and how they all survived.

Telling his story in his actual house to appreciative audiences was a real exciting privilege.

 

The second is for Sudeley Castle and Loyaulte Me Lie. This event celebrates Richard III connection with the castle.sudeley-castle2

There are 2 main connections, firstly when he was Richard Duke of Gloucester and he was given the castle by the Crown. He liked it so much he literally swapped it for Richmond Castle.

The second was immediately after he became king when he commissioned a stonemason to change the castle from a fortified manor house into something resembling a private family palace with the building of a suite of apartments and a banqueting hall complete with a beautiful, large and intricate oriel window.

The stonemason’s tale brings together all the various strands of the people and the history surrounding the castle in the year 1483 and presents an accessible interesting and entertaining story.

This will be performed in the castle chapel, where Catherine Parr is buried.

 

The third is all about an entire village that no longer exists!

Witcombe was a medieval village close to Yeovil, abandoned in the C16.  The Local Authority have an annual event celebrating its history and location, Ham Hill Country Park. My tale is again about a stone mason who lodges in the village whilst working on Montacute Priory, a stroll away. His story about himself, the village and its relationship with the French monks of the Priory illustrates the medieval history and the daily life of the village.

This will be performed outside my tent on the site of the village.

event poster medieval fair

The challenge of researching these stories and converting them into a 1st person narrative can be challenging and a lot of fun.

 

Certainly the feedback I have had shows the audience really appreciates it being in the 1st person and as such makes the story much more immediate and personal and something to which they can much more easily relate. This in turn makes their visit much more enjoyable, interesting and memorable.

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