Completed in 1635 for Sir Thomas Holte, after whom the famous Holte End stand of Villa Park is name, Aston Hall has had a colourful history, including as the site of a battle in the English Civil War, during which Birmingham fought against the royalist cause.
This project takes place almost exactly 374 years after The Battle of Birmingham, which saw 200 brummies valiantly defend the city against a 2,000 strong royalist army, on March 31st 1643. Aston Hall bears the battle scars to this day, including a cannonball hole in its staircase.
Over 7 days of workshops based at Aston Hall, participating children will discover some of Aston Hall’s many stories, and explore some of its fascinating chapters through art and music. Together with local musicians and artists, the pupils will develop a performance-piece re-telling some of these stories, which they will perform together at Aston Hall at the end of the project.
The project includes two amazing trips – first, to The Library of Birmingham Archives and Collections, and later to the Parliamentary Archives at Westminster. On each of these trips, the group will enjoy a behind-the-scenes tour of the archive, learning about the work that goes into preserving stories for future generations. They will also take part in bespoke workshops delivered by the archivists, and have a chance to further explore the stories they’ve discovered.
Some examples of workshops that the children will participate in include:
– Musical activities: designing and building instruments using household materials (e.g. wooden crates, funnels, hose pipe); writing graphic scores; experimenting with electronic music (e.g. recording and manipulating found sounds).
– Performance activities: exploring stories using theatre exercises (e.g. freeze frames, hot seating).
– Literacy activities: treasure hunts with riddles and clues to find stories hidden in and around the workshop location; personal diaries to record thoughts and ideas, with some structured questions to encourage reflection and writing practice.
– Cross-curricular activities: learning about Birmingham’s role in shaping the country over the last 400 years, the children can consolidate facts and information learned by responding artistically, and telling their own stories about life in 21st century Birmingham.