Creative writing – using archives to inspire

Workshop poster I jointly led a creative writing workshop at the Medway Archives and Local Studies Centre on 11 July.

The idea of the workshop was to find out how to use the Archives’ amazing collection of local information as a basis or inspiration for a short story.

The three hour session was attended by a group of 13, and comprised of writing exercises and a time for the participants to research and begin writing their own stories.

Here are some of the interesting and inspirational local facts (and fictions) we discovered…

Noted 19th century artist and patricide Richard Dadd was born in Brompton and murdered his father near Cobham, before calmly walking back to The Crown in Rochester and washing his hands, before fleeing for France!

In 1661, Transylvanian prince Cossuma Albertus was buried at Rochester Cathedral. According to Samuel Pepys in his diary Cossuma was murdered by his own coachman near Gad’s Hill. Rumours still persist that the unlucky prince was a vampire!

On D-Day in 1944, an American bomber crashed on Corporation Road in Gillingham after a mid-air collision.

And then there’s the legend of the Medway Bogman… Neck broken, lolling backwards, hunting dogs straining at the leash from either arm, hangman tattoo on his shoulder, haunting the streets of Medway in the dead of night. This mysterious legend, myth or outright lie, (from Medway Towns, Ottaker’s Local History Series, 2001) tells the story of a mysterious Neolithic zombie who may or may not have been involved in a child’s murder in the 1930s, and may or may not have escaped from Eastgate House during the war, never to be seen again since the 1950s when an exorcism was carried out at Upchurch.

Witchcraft, wife-selling, ‘beastly intoxication’, a ventriloquist in court, and a female bargeman are all other local factual stories that could inspire fictional stories!

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