Friday, February 4, 2011

Joules Yard, Market Harborough

Last night I went and told a tale at Kevin Walker’s Yard of Tales storytelling club at Joules Yard in Market Harborough. As part of National Storytelling Week Kevin opened up the floor to ten or so storytellers - professionals, club members and beginners and what a great mix it was. I have to admit that I have avoided storytelling clubs till now and concentrated on telling to those outside the typical storytelling audience. But a change is as good as a rest and to be honest it’s always good to tell to an audience who know what to expect and who don’t assume it’s all ‘once upon a time’!

The club is held at the back of Joules Yard - which boasts a restaurant, an antiques centre a garden center and even a laundry service which means that there is something for most people! It also regularly hosts folk and acoustic evenings as well as Kevin’s monthly storytelling club. The club itself takes place in what can only be described as an old outbuilding. I don’t mean that in a bad way, because with the high winds that night coupled with the creaking of timbers and rattling of glass it certainly lent some atmosphere to the whole event. And although it was cold you could get a great big mug of tea (Or alcohol if you wanted) and have some of Kevin's home made cake to take your mind off it!

The night started with Dave Blake, father to the professional storyteller, Jo who was on form with some very dubious, but very funny puns to make for a very different version of the Norwegian tale, The Husband who was to Mind House. There were also a couple of husband and wife couples - Jill & Terry Jobson and Kath & Mike Chalk who all spun very different tales from all over the world and also managed to incorporate some of their own experiences. There was a veteran storyteller, Liza Watts, who has according to Kevin has been telling all over and everywhere for many, many years and she told a story about defeating Death himself (That's my kind of story!) Also Pete Castle a very well known teller and folk musician who had a very relaxed style and completely the opposite to Sophie Snell who was full of energy and took us all on a journey back to the time of pirates, headless corpses and squashed eyeballs. This theme was repeated in Jo Blake’s story which moved from beautiful images of flower petals spilling from a girls mouth, to the scooping out of eyeballs with a spoon - All the ingredients you need for a good story! New storytellers were represented by Tom Phillips, a teacher and budding teller who because it was Chinese New Year, took everyone back to ancient China with a moral tale of greed and magic choppers! There were as many different styles and energies as there were storytellers and it was good for me to see just how other tellers ply their trade.

As for Market Harborough itself, well I saw very little, because I went straight to the club and it was late when I came out and had to drive back to Norwich. It was also very cold and windy and not a night for standing about too long outside. I did however pass this amazing building with a date of 1608? on it, although I suspect parts of it are much older...

Market Harborough Guildhall/Tollhouse or was it a Grammar School?

I assume it’s the old Guildhall cum Tollhouse where the market and maybe the whole of Market Harborough was regulated from? As the history page on the Joules Yard website says.. Market Harborough was founded specifically with trade in mind, so a tollhouse would have been a necessary part of that plan. I shall hopefully be telling at the club again one day soon so will go and check it out. One thing's for certain though, it would be a great place to tell some medieval or Tudor tales in!

Thanks to Kevin for the invite and for a very appreciative audience...


  1. It is called The Old Grammar School and, as you can guess by the name, was a Grammar School founded by Robert Smyth in 1614. Nobel Prize winner William Bragg was educated at The Old Grammar School. The Secondary School in Market Harborough is called The Robert Smyth School.

  2. Thanks Tripod. I stand corrected and the name should have given away really!

  3. And, pray Sir, what tale(s) did you tell?

  4. ... by the way, Maximillion and I pondered the stilted structure ourselves, on the day, last year, we wended our way to Brixworth church in Northamptonshire. We ate hot buttered crumpets in a nearby tea house, and left with a cry of 'Huzzah!' as we did so.

    PS Check out the Ragged Rambler blog Mr. Yarnsmith. I think you'll find it redolent with memories...

  5. I think that Market Harborough would be an excellent place to nosh upon crumpets Esotericus and a belated Huzzah from me!

    I shall be telling there again in May and so shall ponder the wonderful structure further, probably whilst sipping tea from my flask.

    As for stories it was the 'mute wife', but next time I am doing my Shaming of Agnes Leaman for the whole night!

  6. ... and I, in turn, will be talking about the Shaming of Agnes Leman as we pass by Fye bridge, during our 'Togs & Time' walk on March 19th.

    Huzzah to Ye!

    PS One doesn't "nosh" on hot buttered crumpets, one "consumes" such dainties.

  7. Aldin's Tea Rooms: that's where Maximillion and I dined. I just found an image on Flickr

  8. We've certainly had some milage out of poor old Agnes haven't we. I think it's about time something was put on the Ragged Ramblers site about her. But in the meantime a big HUZZAH to Agnes!