Posts Tagged ‘Grosvenor Museum’

Events and activities at the Grosvenor Museum

31 July 2013

An extensive programme of events and activities linked to our ‘Discover a Medieval City’ exhibition is now running, led by the Grosvenor Museum. Keith Lilley, Paul Vetch and I were in Chester last week to be involved in some of these events. On the morning of Thursday 25 July, Keith, together with Gareth Dean, led a ‘Mapping Workshop’, which gave participants the opportunity to explore historic maps of Chester and some of the techniques used to produce our digital atlas of the city – from traditional paper tracing to the digital technologies of GIS mapping. In the afternoon, Keith, Sue Hughes (Grosvenor Museum), Paul and I led a walking tour of the city, stopping at various sites to talk about the medieval cityscape, read extracts from the medieval texts, give accounts of real medieval people associated with the place, and show objects in the museum’s collection from that location. We also unveiled our ‘mobile friendly’ version of the website, which allows you to follow your route through the city using GPS tracking and explore the medieval places near to you (more on that soon). In the evening, I gave a lecture on ‘Bringing the Past to Life’, exploring the tradition of bringing history to life in Chester over several centuries, and how our use of new tools and technologies is another step in this process. Thank you to everyone who got involved, asked interesting questions and shared their own insights. Many more events were held over the weekend – see this full-page coverage from the Entertainment Guide in the Chester Chronicle:

Chester Chronicle July 2013

Our exhibition on TV

23 July 2013

A feature on our exhibition at the Grosvenor Museum aired on S4C this evening (Tuesday 23 July 2013). You view it online at the Heno programme website (episode 96, available for 35 days from today).

The programme used our exhibition – with its emphasis on the Welsh culture of medieval Chester, from literature to artefacts – as the starting-point for an exploration of Welsh communities in Chester today. The segment included an interview with Aled Lewis Evans, who writes poetry in both English and Welsh and has contributed new work to the Discover Medieval Chester website, inspired by the medieval texts. It was great to see the vibrant Welsh heritage of Chester celebrated on television – both as part of medieval history and still very much alive today. Diolch!

More exhibition pictures

17 May 2013

More photos of our ‘Discover a Medieval City’ exhibition at the Grosvenor Museum, Chester.

Catherine and Sue at the exhibition

Catherine and Sue at the exhibition


‘Discover a Medieval City’ launch

9 May 2013

Our new exhibition ‘Discover a Medieval City: Places, Voices, Journeys’ launched at Chester’s Grosvenor Museum with an evening event on Friday 3 May. Over 100 people attended, including representatives from local government and heritage / tourism organisations and Arts Council England (who funded the amazing 3D films of medieval objects in the exhibition – they really have to be seen!).

It was really exciting to see the exhibition come together. The number of objects on display from the Museum collections (which have normally been hidden away in archives) is astonishing. There’s also a range of wonderful medieval manuscripts, loaned from Chester cathedral, Chester Record Office and the National Library of Wales (the manuscripts had been gathered together for sending just before the terrible fire there). The exhibition also has a range of interactive content, from audio and video materials to those 3D films of medieval objects, kiosks with access to the ‘Discover Medieval Chester’ website, and a large map with doors to open and explore. The calligraphic interpretations of poems by modern writers, responding to the medieval material, are really beautiful, and the exhibition is laid out as a series of spaces – cloister, tavern, kitchen – which allow you to explore different aspects of city life. We will add a gallery of exhibition images to the ‘Discover Medieval Chester’ website very soon.

Thank you again to Sue Hughes and her team at the Grosvenor Museum for bringing together this wonderful exhibition. It has been a privilege to be involved.

The project team (Keith, Catherine, Paul and Sue) with a kiosk at the exhibition

The project team (Keith, Catherine, Paul and Sue) with a kiosk at the exhibition

Project work in London

24 January 2013

15th century St Christopher ring

Last week, the ‘Discover Medieval Chester’ project team got together at King’s College, London, to produce the audio recordings for the interactive tour content on our website. It’s great to see our work coming together, and we’re looking forward to launching the complete ‘Discover Medieval Chester’ web resource at the beginning of May 2013. We also all managed to get home – to Belfast, Cheshire and the south coast – before the snow set in!

While we were in London, Sue Hughes, from the Grosvenor Museum, picked up a 15th-century ring from the British Museum, which will be displayed in our ‘Discover a Medieval City’ exhibition. Found in Huntington, Cheshire in 2010 (and probably another part of the deposit discovered in the 1986 Huntington Treasure Trove), this silver-gilt ring is engraved with an image of St Christopher, the patron saint of travellers. As well as the engraving, traces of white enamel are still visible on the side.

Sue and I enjoyed the privilege of holding this ring – now safely in the care of the Grosvenor Museum. The ‘Discover a Medieval City’ exhibition opens on 4 May, 2013. You can view the accompanying leaflet, with details of events and activities here.

‘The Women from Wales’

26 October 2012


Here’s a taste of the wonderful poetry which is being produced by the ‘Write Stuff’ W.E.A. Creative Writers group (the ‘Hoole-igans’), inspired by the Discover Medieval Chester project. At the workshop with the Grosvenor Museum, the group reflected on Chester’s status – both in the medieval period and today – as a border city. I’ve been asked to point out that Jan Bengree’s poem is still a work in progress – though it’s already so evocative and draws a wonderful connection between the relationships between Chester and Wales in the medieval period and in the twentieth century. I’m thrilled to be able to share it with you here.



The Women from Wales
by Jan Bengree

The women from Wales talk in secret words
which lift and lilt and speckle
the solemn brown air in dignified Browns Of Chester.*

drifting between tweedy coats, camel coats,
mackintoshes with prim tight belts,
demurely waiting……like Ebenezer women, dressed for chapel.

Then the women (the women from Wales)
waft into English…
whisper how brown suits Bronwen…
how green’s the colour of Gwenda’s pretty Welsh eyes…
how black has shades…
of coal, of night, of Nain’s weary beautiful old eyes….
And I stand by the coats and I watch the Welsh ladies

BUT THEN my mother says: “Come!”
and she beckons me on and she scurries me on…..
away from the women from Wales.

* Brown’s of Chester: a long-established department store, at its peak in the 1950s. Long visited by folk from Wales, particularly for shopping on Saturdays!

Writers’ workshop discovers medieval Chester

26 October 2012

As part of the Discover Medieval Chester project, Sue Hughes and a team from the Grosvenor Museum have been working with local writers in and around Chester. Some recent activities have involved the ‘Write Stuff’ W.E.A. Creative Writers group – also known as the ‘Hoole-igans’, as that’s where they’re based. Through their work with the Museum, the group have been reflecting on Chester as a border city and the connections between medieval objects and experiences and their own today. Sue Hughes sends this report on the recent events:

The Museum Service attended the poetry group’s meeting on 3 October to introduce them to the themes of the Discover Medieval Chester programme.  Sue Hughes explained the thinking behind the exhibition; the concept of mapping the medieval city, the influence of the medieval texts, the various collections which would illustrate life in the city and how this relates to borders, both in the past and today.  Liz Royles then showed them a range of medieval objects from the collections including personal items such as jewellery and sewing needles, religious items such as pilgrim rattles and everyday items such as pots and jugs.

On 15 October the group arrived at the museum to meet Welsh poet Aled Evans.  He spoke to them about border poetry, read them some of  his own work and then allowed them some time to start creating their own writing.  The group then read out some of their draft ideas which were inspiring and included group leader Jan Bengree’s poem ‘The Women from Wales’.  Everyone is looking forward to the work being refined and being displayed as part of the exhibition in 2013.

Arts Council England grant success

13 October 2012

The Grosvenor Museum, Chester has recently learned that it has been awarded £181,900 by the Art Council England in its latest round of grants. The Museum’s application was linked to its work with us on the ‘Discover Medieval Chester’ project, and the new funding will enhance and extend our exhibition, as well as developing the Museum’s medieval collections for future audiences. The Arts Council grant will pay for special 3D films of various medieval artefacts in the Museum’s collection, which will form part of the ‘Discover a Medieval City’ exhibition in summer 2013. It will also fund restoration of a guild banner, which again will be included in the exhibition. The Arts Council award builds upon the work on medieval Chester which has been funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council in the ‘Mapping Medieval Chester’ and ‘Discover Medieval Chester’ projects. We’re learning so much more about the medieval city, and using these new technologies to share sources, artefacts and interpretations with wider audiences. Congratulations to Sue Hughes and the Grosvenor Museum on winning the Arts Council Grant at a particularly competitive time.

Filming medieval Chester…

3 July 2012

Filming underway

Last week we had a meeting for the new ‘Discover Medieval Chester’ project at the Grosvenor Museum, Chester. It was great to share our progress so far – and particularly exciting to see some stills from the short films produced for the new website (in development) and the exhibition next summer (launching at the Grosvenor Museum, then transferring to Wrexham Museum). Hope you enjoy these ‘behind-the-scenes’ shots!

Filming the miller's wife


‘Hryre’ St John’s artwork launch

26 March 2012

On Thursday 22nd March the permanent version of ‘Hryre’, the new artwork created by artist Nayan Kulkarni, launched at St John’s Church, Chester. The launch event, held at St John’s Church, began with a presentation by Catherine Clarke on ‘Ruins and fragments: illuminating St John’s, Chester’. After refreshments and medieval music, the event continued with short speeches from those who had been involved in the project, including Rev David Chesters, the rector of St John’s, Katherine West of Cheshire West and Chester Council, Magnus Theobald of ‘Chester Renaissance’, Catherine Clarke and, of course, the artist himself Nayan Kulkarni who introduced us to some of the technical complexities of the lighting commission, as well as the creative side. The photography competition prize was also awarded to Nick Price, who was there to receive his cheque (and to take plenty more photos of the new installation!). His wonderful picture is shown below.

The permanent new version of the artwork is stunning, incorporating more manuscript images and focusing on ideas of ruin, loss, memory and endurance. You can download the PDF interpretation guide here.

It was so exciting to see the final artwork emerge out of the darkness. It has been a privilege, and tremendously exciting, to be involved in this project and share our research on medieval Chester in such an innovative way. It was also great to see at the launch event so many of the people who have been involved with the art project over the past year, via workshops and consultation – your input definitely helped to shape the artwork into its final form.

Catherine and Nayan at the launch (photo David Heke)

Catherine and Nayan at the launch (photo David Heke)

Nick Price's winning photo