Animated Xmas Cards with Burn the Curtain

Animated Xmas Cards with Burn the Curtain

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:

St Katherine’s Priory nuns dodging snowballs
Hems angels loose in Victorian Exeter Cathedral
Minecraft Ice skaters at the Cathedral
Merry Christmas from the St Katherine’s Priory Community

Connecting the Culm: Community Events

Connecting the Culm: Community Events

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.

Richard Foord MP contributing to the community art work at Sampford Peverell River Community Cafe

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.

Dunkeswell Abbey Gate House
Dunkeswell Abbey Gate House

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

Celebrating World Book Day with Mini Mincinglake Books

Celebrating World Book Day with Mini Mincinglake Books

We had a great time on World Book Day 2022 working with a group of children in Beacon Heath, Exeter to help them discover more about Mincinglake Valley Park and create their own book.

Our heritage educator Catherine Farnell helped the children visualise Mincinglake today, and to understand the history behind it, by creating ‘archaeological layers’ which the children could ‘excavate’ and discover finds from the past, each with their own story.

Once we’d got the group thinking about Mincinglake Valley Park and inspired them with natural objects, archaeological finds and ideas, they were each given their own Mini Mincinglake Book. The children could create whatever they wanted in their books – drawings, writing, sticking, rubbings or anything else which appealed to them. We wanted to embrace all sorts of books for World Book Day – fiction and non fiction, written books and picture books, published books and self created books. For our Mini Mincinglake project we wanted the children to express themselves and explore their thoughts and ideas in their own personalised way.

The session went really well and was great fun. We’d love to develop more ways of helping children to understand and explore their local area and to express their thoughts and ideas.

The Archaeologists gave us an inspiring session. We appreciated the excellent preparation, for keeping to our timing, producing something that engaged the different ages. And generally being very easy for the children to relate to. Great work they are doing! 

Di, Elfins group leader

Many thanks to the Woodcraft Folk’s Elfins group and to Tesco Bags of Help for their community funding.

Education Outreach at St Nicholas Priory

Education Outreach at St Nicholas Priory

It was great to be part of a team that worked with 120 school pupils from Sticklepath Community Primary Academy, Barnstaple last week. The school visited St Nicholas Priory in Exeter to learn about what life was like during the Tudor period.

HAP’s Education Specialist Catherine Farnell ran a mini museum activity, where the children got to handle reconstructed historic artefacts. Catherine said..

“It’s always a privilege to work in such a historically significant building with enthusiastic children. It was wonderful to give them the opportunity to have a hands-on exploration of the Tudor period. The children were full of enthusiasm and interest.”

Other workshops included exploring the Tudor kitchen, trying on Tudor clothes and learning about history and climate change.

St Nicholas Priory is Exeter’s oldest building. It was founded in 1087 as a Benedictine monastery and was home to monks for over 400 years. The church, Chapter House, dormitory and cloisters were pulled down following the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1536. The Northern and Western ranges survived and became the home of wealthy Tudor merchants. When you visit the Priory today it is presented as a Tudor town house, home of the wealthy Hurst family. With replica furniture, artefacts and painted in the bright colours used at the time, it gives a unique insight into Tudor life.

If you haven’t yet discovered St Nicholas Priory, it’s a wonderful venue and well worth a visit. Explore the Tudor kitchen (look out for period cooking demonstrations), bedroom, parlour and the Great Hall. Visit the St Nicholas Priory website for opening hours and events.

If you are a teacher and are interested in arranging a visiting to St Nicholas priory, please email

St Nicholas Priory is run by Exeter Historic Building Trust. You can find out more about the excellent work they do in Exeter here.

Bringing the Iron Age to Life for Primary Children

Bringing the Iron Age to Life for Primary Children

HAP has just completed some learning resources for the North Devon AONB, helping bring the Iron Age to life for primary school aged children.

The interactive educational resources are an online, downloadable pack, exploring the hillforts of the North Devon Coast AONB and enabling teachers to inspire pupils about the Iron Age through enquiry based and creative activities. The resources invite pupils to use archaeological techniques to investigate this period in history and reveal what we know about the people who built the hillforts.

North Devon School Resources - Hillforts in the Iron Age

The PDF download contains five lesson ideas and resources that can be used in-class or adapted for outdoor use. Examples include a mirror and shield template, instructions to build an iron-age roundhouse and archaeologist’s toolkit information cards. A set of tactile, reproduction iron-age items and archaeologist’s toolbox are available for schools to loan, free-of-charge from the North Devon Coast AONB.

North Devon Resources - Decorated Iron Age Objects Template

We hope the pack enjoys wide usage within local primary schools, ignites a sense of curiosity about the past and inspires more children to explore the rich North Devon landscape. We were delighted to get this feedback:

Heritage Arts People were commissioned by the North Devon Coast AONB to develop a heritage-themed learning resource, offered on loan to schools for Key Stage 1 & 2 children. We are so pleased with the result – HAP produced a wonderfully creative and engaging package of learning, including lesson plans, visual aids, media links and ideas for outdoor learning. The resource will undoubtedly help us to work more closely with schools in our area, and will inspire both teachers and children to discover and learn about our iron-age landscape.” Joe Penfold, Heritage Officer, North Devon Coast Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty

You can download the Discover the Iron Age school resource pack on the North Devon Coast AONB website.