Friday, December 30, 2011

December venues - From the Atrium Arts Centre to Pontefract Castle

It was a busier December than usual for storytelling and I told from the Atrium Arts Centre in North Walsham to Pontefract Castle by way of Avoncroft Museum of Historic Buildings near Birmingham.

The Avoncroft session was an evening event telling tales to the volunteers as part of their Xmas party. There and back in one night, so little time to look around. It was a great evening though so hopefully some summertime sessions there in 2012!

The Atrium was a real surprise. It's hidden away in the depths of a housing estate, but well worth the effort of finding. Not only does it have its own cinema and cafe, but also huge kitchens and other workshops, music rooms and dance studios like the one I wandered into below. Although thinking upon it now I should have removed my medieval style wooden pattens before stomping across the brand new floor! My negligence aside, the Atrium is a great local resource for NorthWalsham - lets just hope the people use it.

One of the dance studios at the Atrium and me
Click on images to make larger...

I told at Pontefract Castle on a freezing December day as part of a small Medieval event. In truth there is not much of the medieval ruins left, although the remains of the kitchen were interesting with the layout of fireplaces and other features still discernible and well interpreted. Another feature that caught my eye was the cellar and magazine store, which I didn't get to go down, but there was an interpretation panel near the entrance and on my arrival I was shown exactly where to drive for fear my van disappeared into the stoney depths! Not many castles seem to have such features, although I did see something similar when I told at Knaresborough Castle in 2009 (Although they were tunnels, so even better!)

Beneath Pontefract Castle

As the panel confirms it is basically a small Norman Cellar that was extended out and down in the 13th, 14th and 15th century and perhaps its most interesting use was as a prison during the Civil War, with many of the prisoners leaving their mark. I love graffiti and am part of a growing group surveying churches for tell tale marks. When you stumble upon a name or some other mark it makes you wonder about who the author was and why they left their mark. Of course in most cases we will never know and that's why it's so great - You can let your imagination run riot! That's certainly the case with tunnels as well, even short ones like this. There is something spooky, but also exciting about descending into the depths to who knows where. And there's sure to be treasure hidden some where in one of those nooks and crannies. I fancy the little incomplete gallery on the far right!

My storytelling tent in the inner bailey of the ruinous castle
Just below the remains of the Keep

Thanks for all the invites to tell in 2011 and I look forward to some new venues and maybe even more hidden tunnels in 2012...