Edwardian Weekend at Ayscoughfee Hall*

Great poetry workshop with Peter Sansom of The Poetry Business at Ayscoughfee Hall’s Edwardian weekend!

I got an email from The Poetry Business – usually events are in Sheffield but this time Peter Sansom was holding a workshop in Spalding, so this wasn’t to be missed.  “Dressing up isn’t compulsory, but may help visitors to feel the spirit of the times as they are taken back 100 years to Spalding just before the outbreak of war.”

So, ever obedient,  I dug out my steampunk New Year’s Eve 2012 outfit and set off  on Saturday. I found my car park but I had swapped to a black handbag to fit my theme – no purse! And 5p in the car. Well, it was all free so I just had to find free car parking and mince off through Spalding in my funereal clouds of black and my little lace up boots.



Peter Sansom ran a great workshop; we looked at the frozen  moment, in Frank O’Hara’s The Day Lady Died and Edward Thomas’s Adlestrop. We wrote our own poetry of the captured instant.  Mine was that sudden memory of how my mother was. She is 90 now but


This is my mother.
She is as beautiful as a fashion plate.
Her lipstick is always fresh
and her face is sad
but if I question her
she says it’s just like that.


Now she is in our kitchen.
My baby was born dead
and she has come to help.
She cannot help.
She makes me lemon curd sandwiches.
You always liked those she says.


The cakes are beautiful.
They are all she can remember.
Lovely cakes, like trees,
like castles, like handbags.
Her life has been eaten up.

I liked the archaic fashion plate – she is very much held in that past of Marilyn Monroe, Sophia Loren, Jackie Kennedy. It is funny it is all to do with mouths. She now watches the food programme all the time on tv and loves the wedding cakes programme.

For the war, we had to find some phrases to write on squares for the patchwork memorial by Maria Maidment, so I had

Many recruits were too unfit to die.

I think there were poppies.

They must have watched
birds and clouds and wished  that
they weren’t there.

I was really pleased that Peter actually knew who I was and remembered some of the places my poetry had been published – many years ago!

As I was penniless  I was treated to tea and a sandwich – very nice – by the poetry group and even had a go on the coconut shy!

* Step back in time to 1914 with Spalding’s Edwardian garden party

Dig out your largest hat and longest flowery dress to join the Edwardian Garden Party at Ayscoughfee Hall in Spalding this weekend.

For men, linen suits worn with a boater will do nicely to step back in time to 1914.

Dressing up isn’t compulsory, but may help visitors to feel the spirit of the times as they are taken back 100 years to Spalding just before the outbreak of war.

Museum officer Julia Knight, South Holland District Council arts and culture development officer Rachel Rowett and Julia Gant of historical re-enactment group 4 and 20 Blackbirds have chosen to take a light-hearted look at life in pre-war Spalding for this first centenary commemoration planned under the Spalding Reflects banner.

Julia Knight said: “We decided to look at what life was like in Spalding around the time of the outbreak of war, not concentrating on the military side so much as the general life in Spalding in 1914 and the real lives of the people affected by it.”

Two days of fun are planned, with Punch and Judy shows, traditional garden games and contests and a costume competition each day.

There will be people playing historic music, fortune tellers, a recruiting sergeant and a Suffragette.

Saturday’s events will finish with a performance by a historical harpist from 4pm to 5pm and music hall from 5pm to 6.30pm.

However, there will be slightly more serious things going on too.

A Book of Remembrance will be begun, with visitors recording family stories from the era. It will be available until the end of the year – and then become part of the museum’s permanent collection.

Julia Knight is hoping that some of the people who come forward with family stories might be descendants of the Belgian refugees billeted in Ayscoughfee and elsewhere in Spalding who put their stonemasonry and woodwork skills to good use in the town.

Research by Spalding Grammar School into old boys involved in the war will be exhibited at the museum until the end of the year.

The home front will also be recorded in a display of objects of the time from the museum’s collections and from Spalding Gentlemen’s Society.

Poet Peter Sansom will be leading workshops in the hall (1pm Saturday, 10.30am Sunday) encouraging people to create their own poetry as a response to the objects .

Artist Maria Maidment will be helping people to create a piece of art for a patchwork memorial wall she is making that will become a permanent part of the collection.

• The Heritage Lottery-funded event is free (donations for the War Memorial Fund) and runs from 10.30am to 6.30pm (Saturday) and 10.30am to 4pm (Sunday).


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