Monday, April 11, 2011

Oundle, Northamptonshire

Last Friday I was lucky enough to be one of six tellers telling 'Taster Tales' at the annual Society for Storytelling Gathering, which this year was held in the market town of Oundle at the Independent School.

Any town can I suppose call itself 'historic' by virtue of being around for some time, but in the case of Oundle it's a certainty! Its market is ancient; over a thousand years old and so pre dates the conquest, and many of its buildings are medieval. Historic it is, but also the town has a slightly surreal air about it. It's like a mini Oxford or Cambridge, but with a village filling in the gaps between the school buildings and I found it hard to see where the independent school ended and the village began.

The outside of Oundle School Great Hall

The place is truly confusing, because even buildings that appear at first glance to be ancient are in fact relatively new. Not least the Great Hall of the school where we were telling, that looked for all like a medieval structure, but as the dedication out side shows, it wasn't built until 1907-08, although the Grocers Company Shield also adds to the feeling of ancient history and demonstrate the towns close links to its past. It also serves as a reminder that the Grammer school was re-founded and endowed in 1556 by Sir William Laxton, Master of the Worshipful Company of Grocers and Lord Mayor of London.

Great Hall Dedication Stone

Grocers Company Shield (On the left)

An ancient town then steeped in history, but when I went for a walk late on the Saturday, the young had taken over as they do everywhere and it could have been the club laden riverside area of Norwich I was passing through. There is also a definite feeling of 'town and gown' that you get in a University City like Oxford, for when I was looking around on Friday I met a woman who suggested that I would be far better off spending the evening at the local Ship pub than hanging about at the school! I met her and some of her friends on Saturday and they were all very interested in the storytelling weekend, so its certainly a friendly, if some what disconcerting place!

Inside the Great Hall where some fantastic tales were told

The roof of the Great Hall