Exploring the history of Stanmer House

Stanmer House
Image in the public domain

Grant aided project

Local company, Inroads productions, has been awarded R&D funding through the Arts Council England’s Grants For The Arts scheme to develop Stanmer, a brand new play to be written by Sara Clifford. This site specific play will explore the history of Stanmer House and its surrounding park, with particular reference to the early 1960s, a time of great social and cultural change, when Sussex University was being built next door.

Exploring heritage and history

Mixing eighteenth, nineteenth, twentieth- and even twenty-first- century histories, together with a 1960s groove, and informed and inspired by the memories of local residents, the play will explore how we approach our history – from stately homes to country parks, from monuments to common land- and asks what is our ‘heritage’? What do we want from it? And to whom does it belong? It is planned that the play will be produced by Zap Art and Inroads Productions in May 2015, as part of the Brighton Fringe, with a professional cast and director, and involving up to 100 local people as participants.

Working with local residents

As part of our research and development, we hope to work with local residents to collect oral histories, undertake local research, and use creative learning to create a previously untold story of the house and the park from the point of view of local people; and reflect these stories, juxtaposing eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth century histories, to write an exciting site responsive script. A key element of the project, will be to work with local residents to collect their memories of the House and park, and particularly the early days of the university, as well as family stories about working at the House. These will form part of an archive, to be stored at The Keep. If you have a story to share please get in touch.

Oral history training

As part of our funding, we are able to offer training in collecting oral histories, delivered by Dr Sam Carroll from the University of Brighton. Over four sessions, you can learn about how to interview people, how to use digital recording equipment and how to summarise and transcribe stories. You will be able to contribute to the archive described above, and take away new skills to learn about your own family and local history. The first two training sessions will take place on Saturday 4th October (10-1pm) and Wednesday 8th October (6-8pm). Other dates are to be advised. If you are interested in taking part, please get in touch.

Sara Clifford: stanmerhouse1960@gmail.com
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