Sandstone Tales

I'm often telling folk tales from the county of Cheshire, and so it was a delight to attend a course exploring Cheshire legends.  It was led by Johnny Gillett, a friend and fellow storyteller.  Johnny has collected tales exploring the landscape and even developed creation myths for Cheshire's Sandstone Ridge, giving it life through the Ridge Wyrm. 

Is this rocky outcrop the dragon like head of the Ridgewyrm?

We explored themes of the Devil's exploits in the area before climbing up to Queen's Parlour, a spectacular and evocative cave high up on the ridge.  A perfect location for listening to stories and for gaining inspiration from the shapes in the sandstone. 

Is this a pensive writer in the rock?

We shared more stories over a lovely lunch in the Sandstone pub. 

Then it was back to Harthill Creative Centre to develop our tales and explore characters.  The workshop helped me give shape to a set of stories featuring bagpipers, which balance happier endings with dark and foreboding warnings.

I'm now packed full of ideas and ready for more storytelling.  And also looking forward to Johnny's forthcoming book 'Cheshire Folk Tales' which is out on 1st June.

Little Pilgrims

For various reasons we've got some miniature versions of ourselves in medieval pilgrim guise and from other centuries which I thought I would share.

Here's a little pilgrim Tom - a rag doll, or poppet, made for me by Sue, using offcuts of the cloth that my cote, hose and a bag are made from.

This was a gift from a good friend of ours, Colin Mann, who often joins us for medieval and Tudor events.  He's modified model soldier figures to depict a version of one of the folk tales I tell.

These are some Bartholomew Babies with clothes hand stitched by Sue.  These wooden dolls get the name from Bartholomew Fair, the summer festival that was held for centuries at Smithfields in London, where they were sold.  The clothing shows 14th, 16th and 17th century versions.

Finally, another present, this fantastic jig doll was carved and painted by the wonderfully talented Chris Harvey, and you'll see him dancing and helping to tell stories at some of our events.