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Make a beautiful concertina artbook in our words and pictures workshop at

St James' Church, Cooling 

£20 per person including materials, refreshments and donation to the church

St James' Church

St James' Church

Exterior view of St James' Church

The childrens' graves

The childrens' graves

'The little stone lozenges'

Gravestone in St James' Church

Gravestone in St James' Church

Raised style gravestone in the graveyard

Pages from concertina book

Pages from concertina book

The flora and fauna of the North Kent Marshes was the inspiration for this book - '77 names for the hare'

Pages from concertina book

Pages from concertina book

Ideas for your book

Pages from concertina book

Pages from concertina book

Words and images / paint, glue, cut out text, handwriting, crayon, and rubbing

Make a beautiful concertina workbook with words and images in the unique setting of St James' Church 

Come and join us for an afternoon of drawing and writing - in the inspirational location of St James Church, Cooling on the North Kent Marshes.

St James' Church dates from the 12th century and was the inspiration for the opening scene of 'Great Expectations' where Pip is surprised by Magwitch in the churchyard:

"... this bleak place overgrown with
nettles was the churchyard; (...) the
dark flat wilderness beyond the churchyard, intersected with dykes
and mounds and gates, with scattered cattle feeding on it, was the marshes; and that the low leaden line beyond, was the river; and that the distant savage lair from which the wind was rushing, was
the sea..."

Unique aspects to the church include a set of lozenge-shaped children's gravestones - also described by Dickens in 'Great Expectations':

"To five little stone lozenges, each about a foot and a half long, which were arranged in a neat row beside their grave, and were sacred to the memory of five little brothers of mine - who gave up
trying to get a living, exceedingly early in that universal struggle..."


The cockle shell vestry - its walls are lined from top to bottom with thousands of cockle shells – the emblem of St James.


An ancient door! There is a 500-year-old timber door that still swings on its ancient hinges – even though it now leads to a blocked north doorway!  


Pews - some of the original pews are still in place (though not to be sat on) and are believed to be some of the oldest in England.

We first visited the church and discovered what a unique and inspiring place it is, as it features as one of the locations for our Empty Chair Poetry Trail - where one of our poetry boards was installed till the end of Feb 2022.

Empty Chair map
Date to be rearranged due to Covid. Please email if you are interested and we'll let you know when it's rescheduled.

What we will do:

Each participant will have 4 hours to spend filling a concertina workbook with words and images. Whatever aspect of the location you use as your inspiration is up to you, but Heather, Barry and Sam will be available to offer provocations and advice throughout the day.

We will divide the day into roughly 2 x 2 hour sessions of drawing and writing (though you are free to spend more time writing or drawing if you prefer.)

Heather will be on hand to discuss techniques and offer advice with the art session. This is a chance to experiment with materials and techniques. Sam and Barry will help with the wordy part of the day, with exercises to keep writer's block away. 

You will be able to take home your workbook and continue working on it at home, if not finished.


Participants will be given a small concertina book of heavy cartridge paper. Water based paints, pencils and coloured papers will be available for collageing and colouring. 

Various kinds of pencils, waterproof pens, wax crayons and chalks will be available to layer up and take rubbings with. The aim is to create atmospheric surfaces for writing and drawing on, making a personal  record of time spent in this church and the surrounding landscape.


We hope to bring together creative folk with diverse skills in writing or image making and discover how our responses come together.

Snacks and hot and cold drinks, including homemade soup and bread will be provided (please let us know if you have any dietary requirements.) 

Spaces are limited to 10 people.


Cost £20 per person including a donation to the church.

There is limited parking outside the church.




Heather is inspired by the transitory, particular value of artefacts and locations. The memories that are caught up in these things and places are at the root of her work.

Her work has been selected for RE Masters, NOPE and Printmakers Council shows. She is represented in Rochester by Frances Iles Gallery.

Heather designed the map for The Empty Chair Poetry Trail.


Sam has been facilitating writing workshops for all levels since 2010. She is a playwright, short story writer and most recently, has started drawing and writing graphic novels.


Barry has been poet-in-residence at several locations in Medway and Kent. His fascination is with local history and stories - both real and imaginary.

As Wordsmithery, Sam and Barry curated The Empty Chair Poetry Trail and events. 

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