Tag Archives: Workhouse Wood

Hallo again to Workhouse Wood 2018

Clown a

A horrible clown came along

Art Plumstead’s Halloween Event returned to Workhouse Wood this year in a slightly different format, with people invited to share their own ghostly stories to supplement the planned programme of entertainment. The motley crew began assembling on Winn’s Common shortly before 8 pm at the top of the steps leading down into the woods, with a hi-viz jacket or two helping nervous first-timers find the meeting place. In all, 18 people (plus one dog and who knows how many restless spirits) came along. Making a last sweeping pass of torches across the expanse of grass for any latecomers, Kevin led the party down into the bosky gloom and the divertissement began.

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The adventure begins

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Kevin reads Part Two of Abraham’s Boys by the Chestnut Tree

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Same scene, different camera!

After a brief foray into the woods the first performance site was reached. The story was an edited version of Abraham’s Boys by Joe Hill (read the full text here). As it divides naturally into three parts, the further two sections were read out as the group traveled further and further into the murky woods. Mysterious ornaments, made from bunches of herbs hung from the trees. Ever and again the more discerning noticed the faint smell of lavender. There was even a mysterious shrine to add to the eerie atmosphere, featuring Moriarty the cat who appeared in Art Plumstead’s Halloween two years ago and apples cut crosswise to reveal the star shape so beloved of witches.

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Moriarty the glittery cat peeps out from the Halloween shrine

The final part of the tale was read out at the site of the old pig sty, before John told a true tale of Mary Wickens , the Blue Guardian, who was in charge of the welfare of children at the Woolwich Union Workhouse at 79b Tewson Road Plumstead. Set in the 1870s it is the tragic story of the death of two small sisters and Mary’s ghost that roamed the hospital afterwards trying to right the wrong she had done. Then Margaret described the spooky goings on at The Cage in St. Osyth, Essex which have forced the owner to put the property on the market – no takers so far. Finally, after Erik’s recital of the 1899 poem Antigonish by William Hughes Mearnes, there was a lighthearted improvised question and answer session about the supernatural hosted by a three-headed monster performed by John, Mark and Erik. No ghosts materialised, and crucially nor did the promised heavy rain. When all the tales were over, mulled wine was served before the crowd dispersed, some going to The Old Mill for an extra drink to calm their nerves, and the rest fleeing for the safety of their own homes, vampires permitting.

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Whooooo!

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The true tale of The Cage in St Osyth, Essex

The three headed expert answers questions on the supernatural

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Taking a bow

 

The Ten Trees of Workhouse Wood

IMG_0705It was a beautiful sunny day when Kevin and Andrew met John and Dee at the top of the steps into Workhouse Wood. In a short while, more explorers had joined them. They were going to have an adventure!

Down, down, down they went into Workhouse Wood. No sooner had they gone down a few steps than they found a scattering of petals on the ground – dainty white elderflowers, bright yellow hawkweed and pretty pink dog roses.

A tiny, tinkling bell rang out. Ting-a-ling-a-ling-a-ling! They looked up. A queer piece of golden yarn had been tied to the first tree in the Tree Trail, an English Oak. It was rather mysterious.

Kevin said, “I know what has happened. The elves must have seen me walking around the wood last week. I expect they have tied golden yarn to all the trees on the Tree Trail.”

IMG_0725Sure enough, when they arrived at the next tree, the merry, tinkling bells rang out, and there was – yes, a tiny piece of golden yarn on the old Hawthorn Tree, tied in a bow. The mischievous elves were playing a trick. They had even tied a thread to a tree that was not on the trail, a Field Maple.

Kevin said, “The elves are laughing at us, but they have helped us, too. Do you see how the leaves are similar to the Sycamore next to it, but they are not the same. They are more rounded.”

They walked further on. The woods were lovely and cool. Presently, they came to a sort of clearing. The sun shone down on the path. It was simply enchanting. Soon they had reached the great Horse Chestnut Tree, then a dear little Cherry Tree. In a trice they had tied a card to the branches to help visitors know more about the trees.

IMG_0732They rubbed the leaves of the Western Red Cedar Tree. They smelt of delicious pineapple! At every tree they visited, the merry, tinkling bells rang out. (It was the elves laughing). Try as they might, they could not see the elves. They were hiding.

When they had walked past the Holly Tree and the Elder Tree, they looked over and saw that some of the logs in the Forest Schools clearing had been scorched rather badly. Some naughty children must have set fire to them. I think their nannies ought to smack them, don’t you?

At last they came to the end of the Trail. It had been good fun and they had had a busy day. They had learned a lot about trees and Workhouse Wood. It was time to go to the pub. They went to The Old Mill and talked about politics and the education system. They made plans for the Make Merry and the Midsummer Crawl. Then it was time to go home.

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More Treasures Unknown

IMG_20170416_160556590_HDREvery Community Market since January has seen the monthly watercolour workshop move from ‘beginners’ to ‘improvers’ – they will be selling a selection of their cards and paintings at the Make Merry – but the 5th annual Easter Quiz Crawl (see pics of the gleeful winners) launched the warm weather season of Art Plumstead activities and reminded those who have been in at the start that we will have reached our 5th Anniversary on September 2nd, right in the middle of Plumstravaganza 2017.

IMG_20170416_160604160_HDROnce again, Karen managed to find a different part of Plumstead to be the setting of a trail combining anagrams of local streets and questions to answer about places seen en route. There were also a few random sights to be spotted and identified. To make it slightly easier they were all in sequence, but no team managed to spot all of them. The teams set off from The Star and meandered round the back streets to journey’s end. At the final count, there was only one point between the scores of the first and second teams. For the second team, it was a bitter pill to swallow, but it was metaphorically washed down with a few pints in The Old Mill.

IMG_20170416_160610672It is about to get busy in the Art Plumstead Calendar, starting with the Tree Trail in Workhouse Wood, and if you aren’t already on the mailing list, the simplest way to be kept informed is to sign up using the contact form at the bottom of the Art Plumstead home page.

 

Plumstravaganza – Workhouse Wood 2

This was the first ‘official’ tour of Workhouse Wood led by Nick Day, but anyone who came to May’s Edible Tree Trail had already dipped into it as an added bonus just after we had passed the Sweet Chestnut tree. Then, we were grateful for the shade because that day was very hot. This time, the weather was somewhat cooler but humid.

The tour commenced with a look out towards the river and the main site of the workhouse. There is a boundary tucked down inside the foliage that has been the same since the 18th century. We then walked over to the southern entrance of the site, where Nick explained how the notice board had had to be replaced already, having been vandalised. The tour proceeded clockwise, with Nick picking up litter for the entire route.

At the north west corner of the site we lingered by the remains of the piggery. Nick explained that formerly there was a farm on this site, attached to the Workhouse. More recently, in the 1970s there had been several attacks on nurses in the hospital which is what prompted the erection of a much higher fence around the perimeter. In due course, the site became a dumping ground which is where PCEG stepped in. All the bricks lining the paths had been found on or around the common. Meanwhile 6 tons of metal, mainly the fence referred to above, have been removed from the site to make it more accessible. As more funding is secured, the area will be managed to maintain biodiversity and increase its use by the public.