Ahead of The Reader’s Courtyard Fair on Saturday 9 September, we caught up with Dave from our event partner Independent Liverpool to discuss independent culture, community and memories of Calderstones Park.
Volunteers enjoyed another successful Wellbeing Day at Calderstones Mansion House last week, putting the emphasis on wellbeing in action.
For our Featured Poem this week, we’re looking to what lies beneath as The Big Dig gets underway at Calderstones Park at our HQ in Liverpool. It’s the very first time the park has been opened for historical excavation, and we’re keeping our ears close to the ground – figuratively speaking – as for the next two weeks our volunteers will be taking up their trowels and hoping to discover some ancient artefacts that might give us an indication of the earliest settlers to the area.
Our team were so eager to get underway that the digging started earlier than expected at the end of last week – you can keep up to speed with all the latest developments over the next two weeks @CaldiesMansion on Twitter or by taking a read of The Big Dig blog: caldiesbigdig.org.uk
We might have chosen a piece from the ‘Earth poet’ William Wordsworth, but instead we’ve been inspired to whizz from the past right along into the future with this poem from Rudyard Kipling, which speaks rather grandly to the cycle of life we find ourselves a part of. We’ve also a feeling that our hardworking diggers will need their rest and a lie down (perhaps a little bit less than an ‘aeon’), so this will hopefully do the trick in providing something to relax with.
When Earth’s Last Picture is Painted
When Earth’s last picture is painted
And the tubes are twisted and dried
When the oldest colors have faded
And the youngest critic has died
We shall rest, and faith, we shall need it
Lie down for an aeon or two
‘Till the Master of all good workmen
Shall put us to work anew
And those that were good shall be happy
They’ll sit in a golden chair
They’ll splash at a ten league canvas
With brushes of comet’s hair
They’ll find real saints to draw from
Magdalene, Peter, and Paul
They’ll work for an age at a sitting
And never be tired at all.
And only the Master shall praise us.
And only the Master shall blame.
And no one will work for the money.
No one will work for the fame.
But each for the joy of the working,
And each, in his separate star,
Will draw the thing as he sees it.
For the God of things as they are!
“Jump and let’s build our wings on the way down” – Ray Bradbury
Could you swap Poe or Potter for a plunge, or substitute Lewis or Lessing for a leap? Want to take the title of Wuthering Heights quite literally? This summer we’re going to heights as before unreached as we bring Bungee Fest to Calderstones Park.
Over two days, Bungee Fest will combine live music, stalls, great food and refreshments with a once-in-a-lifetime chance to experience a 150 foot bungee jump. The first event of its kind in the city, we’re hoping that the sun will be shining and that lots of thrill-seekers and onlookers alike will join us for what will be a weekend to remember.
By taking on the staggering feat, our bungee-ing daredevils will be part of a much bigger picture. All the proceeds from Bungee Fest will go towards our fundraising target for Calderstones Mansion House, where we’re creating an International Centre for Reading and a community base for people to come together, build healthier communities, make friends and find employment. Through Calderstones Mansion, it’s our aim to give current and future generations the opportunity to discover shared reading, improve wellbeing and extend the pleasure and power of reading for all.
A great summer day out in the Park, an unparalleled opportunity and the chance to support a vital cause – who could ask for more?
Tickets for Bungee Fest cost £80, including admission fee and a donation to the Calderstones Mansion project. The brave amongst you will also receive a goody bag for taking part (as well as the exhilaration that comes from having jumped 150 feet). Snap up your tickets straight away by heading to bungeefest.eventbrite.co.uk
Find out more information about Bungee Fest by contacting email@example.com or visiting our website: http://www.thereader.org.uk/calderstones/bungee-fest
We’ll be bringing you more about Bungee Fest in the coming months, so stay tuned…
Under my window a clean rasping sound
When the spade sinks into gravelly ground:
My father, digging. I look down
Till his straining rump among the flowerbeds
Bends low, comes up twenty years away
Stooping in rhythm through potato drills
Where he was digging.
– Digging, Seamus Heaney
2015 has got off to an exciting start at Calderstones Mansion House with yet more shared reading groups and special events welcoming in the New Year, and its biggest project involving the community and unearthing the history of the area is yet to come…
As part of the ongoing ‘Connect at Calderstones’ project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, The Reader Organisation alongside National Museums Liverpool will be offering a number of heritage activities and events within Calderstones Park in the coming months. All of these special events are leading up to The Big Dig, a wide-scale community dig which will bring people closer to the park than they have ever been before.
The Big Dig will begin this April and visitors are welcome to join in the two-week digging period, exploring the park in the hope of unearthing some hidden treasures that could join the Neolithic Calder Stones already housed in the park – the earliest human monument in Merseyside. The project is especially exciting as it will be the first time Calderstones is open to public access for historical excavations.
Richard MacDonald, Heritage Stories Maker at The Reader Organisation is looking forward to The Big Dig getting underway:
“The Calderstones are of national importance and this dig is an exciting opportunity for people in the local area to get involved in a community dig and support The Reader’s plans for the future. As the park has never been built on there could be anything under our feet. We may even find evidence of the first humans to live in this area – relics of the earliest scousers!”
The Big Dig will take place between Monday 27th April and Friday 8th May and anyone from the community is welcome to pick up a spade and take part. You can follow the project more closely through the Big Dig blog, with regular progress updates posted in the running to the main event: www.caldiesbigdig.org.uk
Before the digging begins, visitors to the Mansion House will have the opportunity to take part in a number of free preparatory events allowing them to learn more about excavation:
- On Thursday 29th January, the Museum of Liverpool will be holding free tours through the prehistoric collection, including the chance to get your hands on some replica Calder Stones (times: 11am, 12pm, 2pm, 3pm)
- Get an insight into a day in the life of an archaeologist at Ready to get Digging on Thursday 19th February at Calderstones Mansion House from 2-4pm
- Join Ron Cowell, Curator of Prehistory at Museum of Liverpool, for a talk about the Calder Stones themselves and Merseyside during the Stone Age on Thursday 5th March, 7pm at Calderstones Mansion House
All of these events are free to attend, and to avoid disappointment booking is advised. You can register your places on each by heading to http://www.thereader.org.uk/events or http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/mol/events
If you’ve always fancied yourself as an Indiana Jones or Time Team explorer or perhaps are looking for a new hobby to embark on this New Year, this is the perfect chance to do some exploring right on your doorstep! Be sure to keep logged on to the Big Dig blog for more news in the coming months.
Reading is becoming big news in Liverpool as there are some exciting plans afoot to ensure that generations can engage with literature for years to come.
Our friends at City of Readers have been hard at work over the past few months gathering support from individuals and organisations across the city for their Give Us 5 campaign. Frank Cottrell Boyce, Liverpool Echo and Baltic Creative have been amongst those who have lent their support to turn Liverpool into the UK’s foremost reading city over the past year, and thanks to a very special campaign video even more people are on board. The brilliant Jack-All Productions have been busy putting together the video, featuring the Royal Liverpool Hospital, National Museums Liverpool, Whitefield Primary School, BBC Radio Merseyside and local poet Levi Tafari, who are all encouraging everyone around Liverpool to give 5 for reading. The video was launched at Blackburne House in Liverpool last week, along with a special CPD event with The Reader Organisation’s founder Jane Davis and Frank Cottrell Boyce giving a rundown of their favourite books to read for pleasure with children.
Take a look at the video below, and find out more about how you can get involved with giving 5 for reading on the City of Readers website: http://cityofreaders.org/
There was also some wonderful news for our continued redevelopment at Calderstones Mansion as we received funding from the Social Investment Business for The Story Barn at Calderstones. The Grade 2 listed Barn and Stable area of the Mansion will be transformed to become an interactive Story Barn, bringing literature to life and encouraging reading for pleasure amongst young people and the wider community within the heart of Calderstones. Exhibitions from children’s authors and illustrators will feature alongside a permanent interactive space which will allow children and families to explore, play and interact with literary adventures as well as the nature of the park surrounding. With our weekly shared reading groups for children already successful, the Story Barn will be an important cornerstone in continuing to create a love of reading in future generations and the creation of making Calderstones Mansion House an International Centre of Reading.
We’re proud to be part of regeneration in Liverpool alongside an initiative from Squash Nutrition which also received funding to develop Toxteth Food Central. You can read more about the fantastic news here: http://www.liverpoolexpress.co.uk/funding-secured-two-major-social-projects/
As the leaves are cascading, it’s a time to take notice of the trees lining the streets and scenery around us – and there’s exciting news as one of Liverpool’s most famed trees has been shortlisted to become England’s Tree of the Year.
The Allerton Oak – Calderstones Park’s star attraction – has made the list of ten shortlisted trees, whittled down from over 200 nominations. The first England’s Tree of the Year award has been organised by The Woodland Trust to recognise the cultural and ecological value of England’s countryside, as well as to discover which is the most unique and well-loved of the country’s trees.
The list contains trees steeped in all kinds of history and heritage, including one where the Magna Carta was thought to have been signed and the inspiration for Newton’s discovery on his theory of gravity. The Allerton Oak itself has many stories to tell, with its fables famous across the city. It is believed to have stood in Calderstones Park for over a thousand years, though in fact it is probably nearer to being 800 years old, and was the meeting place of The Hundred Court of Liverpool, in the absence of a court being available.
The Allerton Oak has also weathered destruction – some of its branches are missing and propped due to damage caused by the explosion of a gunpowder ship called the Lottie Sleigh in the River Mersey, which split the tree in half – and was also incorporated into keeping the spirit up during WWII, when leaves from the tree were pressed and included in Christmas cards sent to members of the park’s staff who were serving in the forces.
The title of England’s Tree of the Year will be decided by an online public vote, closing on Tuesday 4th November. The winner will go on to represent the country in the 2015 European Tree of the Year contest.
Head to The Woodland Trust’s website to vote for The Allerton Oak: https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/news/latest/england-toty/
And to inspire you further, here’s an ode to trees of all shapes and sizes:
I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the sweet earth’s flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.
The book, written especially for City of Readers ‘Give Us 5’ campaign, is being released in monthly instalments from now until December, when the ending will be read aloud by Frank himself at this year’s Penny Readings at St George’s Hall, Liverpool.
The story so far:
On a school trip to Calderstones Park, Rylan Jennings is amazed to discover that Mrs. Crowley – the woman pretending to be his nan while his mum has disappeared – has a portrait of him: painted a hundred years before he was born. How is this possible? Who is Mrs. Crowley? and what is she doing on a school trip anyway?
Being published online is not its only special feature: the story is also accompanied by some special illustrations and animations that make the action come to life. And readers can be involved too…do you have a picture that reminds you of The Menlove Treasure? Something in the story, a piece of history or your own mysterious treasure that may be able to help Rylan in his quest? All you need to do is Instagram your pictures and videos with the tag #MLTreasure and they’ll be posted to the City of Readers website where they’ll add to the story as it unfolds.
It’s not too late to join in the adventure, as you can start from Chapter 1 on the City of Readers website. And if you’ve already begun then Chapter 2 is waiting for you! http://cityofreaders.org/online-serial/
Readers from all over the World Wide Web have already been enjoying the story:
“Wonderful cliffhanger! Definitely, I’m hooked!”
“FCB hits the spot again!”
“Loved it – can’t wait to show my 8 year old granddaughter so we can read next chapter together – I know she will be hooked just like me!”
Be part of the story – quite literally – by visiting the City of Readers website: http://cityofreaders.org/online-serial/