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... a day-long literary 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 were commissioned by Medway Council to create and produce a one-day festival in Rochester Castle Gardens with a boutique, fringe feel. 

We programmed an exciting line-up of prize winning writers who performed at Welcome to Cloisterham.

Poets included Bridget Nolan ('A Walk with Charles Dickens’), Pauline Holmes, The Empty Chair Poets, Kent Dreams poets, Clair Meyrick and Setareh Ebrahimi, who delighted us with their words throughout the day.

We also had new short drama and storytelling from Kent-based storyteller Rachael Hammond and theatre companies Hags Ahoy and History Needs You, plus music from Lisa Vigour, Tendayi Sutherland, 2a-LTY, Shaun Philip Hutchings, and Thee Droods on the Red Geranium stage.


And there was the Word Chalet - the return of our popular world's smallest writing retreat, for you to write your own story on the day. 

Cloisterham Commissions:

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

  • Sarah Hehir (who writes for ‘Doctors’ and ‘The Archers’) wrote a new radio play which was launched on the day and you can listen to online.

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

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

  • Poet James McKay performed a set inspired by Dickens' links to Byron and ravens.

  • History Needs You presented their fun interactive show, 'Dickens Got Talent'.

Activities for children included:

  • Creatabot, who made raven puppets.

  • 2a-LTY, who printed Celtic designs. 

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

  • Plus, we gave away a free zine containing poems and flash fiction to inspire you!

  • Were you lucky enough to find one of a limited edition Charles Dickens themed Secret Heart by Medway’s Secret Hearts glass artist? #Cloisterham and show us on social media if you found one!

The Red Geranium Quilt: a community quilt

The Red Geranium Quilt was on display at Welcome to Cloisterham - containing 151 panels and 1 flower - the quilt was contributed to by around 50 people working on their own during lockdown. The finished quilt will be displayed at our future literary events. 

The Red Geranium Quilt was inspired by Dickens' love of the red geranium, but also in memory of our friend, the writer and outsider artist Rosemary McLeish, who worked in textiles amongst other media.

"Great community event, attracting a cross-section of local talent to deliver a Dickens inspired event."

"Kent is fast becoming an important creative hub and Wordsmithery is a respected company creating numerous community-based projects in this region."

"The event was exceptionally well planned and executed with a refreshing approach to a classic literature figure." 

"A festival with a wide platform for the literary arts."

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