... a day-long festival; Dickens with a twenty-first century twist

Welcome to Cloisterham logo - a raven on an outline of Rochester with red geraniums

Welcome to Cloisterham

We have programmed an exciting line-up of prize winning writers who’ll be performing at Welcome to Cloisterham, and are confirming more writers and activities on a daily basis.

Poets so far, include Bridget Nolan (‘Walking with Dickens’), Pauline Holmes, The Empty Chair Poets, Kent Dreams poets, and Setareh Ebrahimi , who will delight us with their words throughout the day.

We’ll also have new short drama and storytelling from Kent-based storytellers and theatre companies, plus music on the Red Geranium stage.


And there's the Word Chalet - the return of our popular world's smallest writing retreat, for you to write your own story on the day. So bring a picnic and a rug, and stay for the day, dipping in and out of our literary themed activities at our relaxed one-day festival, celebrating Charles Dickens’ literary legacy.

Cloisterham Commissions:

We have commissioned a number of Kent writers to produce new material for Welcome to Cloisterham

  • Sarah Hehir (who writes for ‘Doctors’ and ‘The Archers’) has written a new radio play which will be launched on the day and you can listen to on your phone.

  • Hags Ahoy will present ‘One Spirit’ – a short play where Miss Havisham and Bill Sikes go head to head.

  • ‘Thee Droods’ will present a musical rendition of some of Charles Dickens’ poetry – seldom performed to music.

  • Poet James McKay will perform a set of new poems inspired by Charles Dickens.

Activities for children include:

  • Creatabot, who will be making raven puppets.

  • 2a-lty, who will be creating Dickensian characters for their emerging graphic novel. 

  •  ‘Anne Pratt’s Botanical Tattoo Studio’ – where children of all ages will be able to get a botanical tattoo on their arm and make a flower to takeaway as a reminder of the day.

  • Plus, a free zine which will contain poems and flash fiction to inspire you! And a souvenir treasure hunt, where you might be lucky enough to find one of a limited edition Charles Dickens themed Secret Hearts by Medway’s Secret Hearts glass artist.

Writing and textile workshops: 

Rochester Library : 

Saturday 31 July - 11am - 1pm - textiles

Chatham Library:

Saturday 31 July - 2.30pm-4pm - writing

Places are free, but please book in advance with Medway Libraries on 01634 337799.

The Red Geranium Quilt: 

*This activity is Covid-safe and can be done at home. 

We want to make a community quilt for display at the event, inspired by Charles Dickens’ favourite flower - the red geranium. But we need 151 patches to make it from! Can you sew / quilt / embroider / crochet / knit / cross stitch / fabric paint? Would you like to make a panel to add to the quilt?

Panel instructions: You can make the panel from whatever textile method you like - so long as we can sew it onto the quilt backing. It should be around 15cm square or, 5cm square. It should feature your interpretation of a red geranium - be inspired - it doesn’t have to be realistic. Send / drop off your finished panel to Wordsmithery by 15 August, c/o Nucleus Arts, 272 High Street, Chatham. If you put your name with it, you will be listed in the free zine which we will be making for the event, or you can remain anonymous.

If you'd like some ideas - check out our quilt inspiration video!


The quilt poster also shows a few examples of panels that people have already made; Download a pdf of the quilt poster. 

A raven sits on a canon with Rochester Castle in the background.
Poster of Welcome to Cloisterham event