The Connecting the Culm project in the Blackdown Hills has been working with nature and local communities, to help make the River Culm and its catchment better for wildlife and people, and more resilient to flood and drought.
Here’s a film summarising the project and about making a better future for the river. HAP’s really enjoyed being part of the Connecting the Culm team, carrying out their community engagement work.
Here’s a – check out Cat talking about her work at 3 minutes 50 seconds in!
We’ve had a great time working with Burn the Curtain over the last couple of weeks on some community animation workshops at Exeter Food Bank and St Katherine’s Priory. This was part of their Imaginarium project which you can read more about here.
The concept of Victorian Xmas cards was used as a starting point. If you haven’t seen Victorian cards before take a look at some examples here. Christmas cards were invented during the Victorian era and took off in a big way in the 1880s. A demand for novelty led to a whole genre of bizarre and darkly humorous cards. Santa kidnapping naughty children, creepy clowns and dead birds were just some of the popular themes!
With this concept of a quirky, fun-loving and slightly cheeky take on the Christmas card as a starting point, we created characters based on local themes: Exeter Victorian sculptor Harry Hems’ collection of characterful medieval angels, Exeter’s blue boy and St Katherine’s medieval nuns. The workshops were aimed at being light-hearted and fun, so as well as themes suggested by us, participants were encouraged to let their imaginations run wild and create their own characters and storylines to animate.
With animations featuring minecraft characters rescuing an ice-skating snowman, nuns bowled over by giant snowballs and mischievous angles, it was a truly Victorian Xmas card-inspired result! Here are the animations, courtesy of Burn the Curtain:
It was great to be a part of Heritage Open Days this year and we were thrilled to be a part of two fantastic events!
Roman Military Exeter
The first event was A Guided Walk Around the Fortress of the Second Augustan Legion at Exeter with Dr. John P. Salvatore. This tour evolved out of a celebratory coffee with John, who has worked 50 years in archaeology this year – quite an achievement! John has a keen interest in Roman military archaeology and mentioned he runs occasional tours of Roman military Exeter. We were really keen to attend one of his tours and he kindly agreed to run one, which we organised as part of Heritage Open Days.
It was a fascinating event, transporting us back in time 2000 years to reimagine the Guildhall shopping centre as barrack blocks and Exeter Cathedral as the site of a Roman military bath-house. It was a unique opportunity for local people to see the location of excavation sites from the 1970s, with an archaeologist who worked on them. Here’s feedback from two of our eighteen participants:
We thought John Salvatore was an inspiring and imaginative speaker – he really made you ‘see’ the Romans in Exeter. The idea of walking the perimeter of the fortress was brilliant and to have a fully kitted-out Roman soldier describe daily life at the time was a real treat at the end of a terrific evening. Top marks to everyone involved.’
Linda and Ian
Dunkeswell Abbey Tour
The second Heritage Open Days event was a guided tour of Dunkeswell Abbey, delving into the skills and masterful water management of the monks who lived and worked there. The tour was part of the Connecting the Culm project which aims to make the river better for wildlife and people, and more resilient to flood and drought.
Participants found out about the resourcefulness of the Cistercians, how they managed the water landscape in the medieval period and why they chose this beautiful rural site to build their abbey. We were kindly given access by a local resident to see the impressive earthwork remains of the fish ponds, astonishing in their scale.
The beautiful weather combined with the idyllic rural location and a pop-up cafe (run by local residents) selling tea and cake made this a perfect day out. We had a great turn out with 44 people attending the tours.
HAP has been out and about in the River Culm catchment delivering a programme of community engagement events for the Connecting the Culm project. A project which aims to create a better future for the River Culm by working with nature and local communities. HAP has organised a series of River Community Cafes, pop up events and workshops at primary schools to engage people in the project.
Using information stands, river themed activities and collaborative art to welcome people in and generate conversations, we have been raising awareness of the challenges the River Culm faces due to climate change and how we can work with nature to solve these problems. As a result, communities have been coming up with Nature-Based Solutions to tackle flood and drought, improve water quality in the river, and create a better place for wildlife and people.
HAP will be continuing its work with the Connecting the Culm project delivering a new series of events over the next three months called ‘Catchment Connections’. At these events, people can find out how to get involved with the project and learn about the Blueprint for the Culm, a 25 year vision for the river. Download the event flyer here and join us at one the events to find out more about the project.
As part of the ‘Catchment Connections’ events, we will be running guided tours at Dunkeswell Abbey this September, during the Heritage Open Days festival. Come along to find out about this tranquil monastic site in the Blackdown Hills, the resourcefulness of the Cistercians, how they managed the water landscape in the medieval period and why they chose this rural site to build their abbey.
Water management was vital to the survival and self-sufficiency of the monastic community and the Cistercians were experts at managing water in the landscape. Discover how the monks used their skills and knowledge to create a thriving rural community and explore the ancient remains of this monastic complex.
Find out more about this Connecting the Culm event at Dunkeswell Abbey and book tickets here
The Understanding Dunkeswell AbbeyChurch project team would like to welcome you to a community open day on May 7th 1-4pm 2022. Find out more about the unique history of Dunkeswell Abbey Church, one of the hidden treasures of the Blackdowns Hills. Discover the link between Dunkeswell Abbey Church, Canada and a family of skilled Victorian craftswomen! View new archive material from Devon Archives, enjoy tours of the church, and relax with tea and cake.
The Understanding Dunkeswell Abbey Church project, funded by The Pilgrim Trust, is exploring the history, current state and heritage significance of the former church at Dunkeswell Abbey, created by the women of the Simcoe family in the C19th. Find out more here.