We are working with the Dartington Hall Trust to help deliver outreach work to schools and families as part of their heritage lottery funded project, restoring and interpreting the medieval deer park on the Dartington Hall Estate.
Listen below to our first podcast about the project, recorded at the Winter Warmer family day in February half term, 2017. Here, children talk about their experiences learning and playing in the woods, and we hear from faciltators about the history and restoration work.
On June 1st, as part of Dartington Community Day, we pulled together a pageant, with a riot of costume and song. Inspired by the community pageants that were so popular in the mid 20th Century, we invited people to join us sewing, sticking, snipping and singing for weeks beforehand. Then on the day we processed from outside the White Hart, all the way down to the woods. This was a symbolic hunt in reverse - a hunt for peace and unity in the world, and for the deer within ourselves.
The procession was interrupted by a series of pop-up performances. A knight and a snail fought in the road. Hunters jumped out in the woods, blowing their horns. And a shimmering archway held by four singers greeted us as we entered the woods in magical silence.
There at the deer park, everyone was invited to play games and make hobby horses. The horses were used in a final display, a hobby horse parade around the tiltyard, through the great hall, and out into the courtyard.
Many artists and community groups came together to make the pageant happen.
Lizzie and the Deer Park team welcomed everyone in the woods and helped with hobby horse making.
Young people from Lifeworks created their own costumes and hunting horns and rehearsed a song to surprise those on the procession. They worked with artist Shelley Hodgson.
Rachel Miller lead her Recorder Consort to inspire everyone at the start of the procession, and accompany the walking and singing as we went along.
Karen Benson lead a group of singers to create the atmospheric entrance to the woods.
Sarah Gray lead the Hobby Horse Procession around the tiltyard.
Catherine Guy supervised the knight and the snail.
Drum maker Suzi Crockford brought her drums and antlers to start the first procession.
Ru and Claire of Ways with Weirds helped us to refine the symbolism and design of the procession.
The photos featured on this page were taken by Robert Davidson, and Dougie from Lifeworks. Thank you!