Storyteller's cloak

June 25th 2016

A new learning activity is set to capture the imagination of young children at Beamish.

A storyteller’s cloak, featuring colourful patchwork and many symbols and creatures, will provide inspiration for stories at Pockerley Old Hall.

Catherine Rice, Learning Co-ordinator at Beamish, said: “Fairy tales, traditional tales and nursery rhymes are an integral part of young children’s learning as they get to grips with the English language.

“In today’s world, many things featured in these stories and songs are only known to children through the pictures in books. What are the cinders in Cinderella, what does a grandfather clock sound like when it strikes, how does a spinning wheel move and where is the spike we must all be wary of?

“At Pockerley Old Hall we can bring this world to life for nursery and infant children with a new activity, ‘Once Upon a Time’, which will be led by a character wearing the fantastic cloak that has been specially made for this activity.

“Inspired by everything around them, be they the three wooden porridge bowls sitting on the table (big, medium and small of course) or the beautiful images in the cloak, children will share the stories they know and use their imagination to make up their own tales to tell.”

Linda Bramley, from Beamish’s Costume Department, made the piece of textile art.

Linda said: “The outside needed to look very plain as it would have been worn by an itinerant, wandering 1820s person, but the inside needed to be magical.

“This storyteller would probably have picked up interesting and colourful small pieces of cloth on his travels and sewn them together.

“The embroidery was machined but inspired by an old style called crewelwork which was traditionally worked with wool yarn on linen cloth, the oldest surviving example being the Bayeux Tapestry.”

The hooded cloak is dark brown on the outside, but inside there are elements inspired by nature, the seasons, nursery rhymes, animals, birds and insects. This includes a fox with a green leg looking at a chicken with pink feathers. Linda said: “That should inspire a few stories!”

Linda added: “It has required a combination of skills including pattern drafting, dressmaking, applique, patchwork, art and computer studies. The colourful peacock alone has 46,162 stitches and took two and a half hours to work!”

When asked what Linda thought of the cloak, she said: “It has been a very exciting project and I have learnt a lot. I hope the children really enjoy it and that I get to hear some of their stories.”

Keep an eye on the Beamish website and the Learning Twitter account for more information about Once Upon a Time and our other learning activities.