Gloucestershire’s hidden places are seething with spooks and some of them will be accompanying storytellers and writers Anthony Nanson and Kirsty Hartsiotis to The Wilson, Cheltenham’s art gallery and museum on Wednesday 9 December at 6pm. If you’d like to join us (and the spooks!), you can get your tickets here, or directly from The Wilson on 01242 237431 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
After all, it is the season for ghost tales, but we’ll be going one better than just telling ghost tales at Christmas – we’ll be sharing tales of the real Christmas ghosts of Gloucestershire alongside some of the county’s scariest spooks. Expect to be chilled, moved and amused as we imaginatively bring to life the county’s ghosts from the Severn Vale to the Upper Thames, from the Cotswolds to Cheltenham.
The stories all come from our newly released book, Gloucestershire Ghost Tales (The History Press, 2015). Having told stories up and down the country for many years, we have found that the ghost story is one of the most living of folktale genres. Often, when we’re telling local stories, audience members share their own tales with us … and they are nearly always ghost tales. Perhaps you too have had an experience you can’t explain – or know someone else who has. People are still fascinated by the ghosts of their locality, their family, even the building they live in. When you listen to ghost stories the world suddenly becomes a more unnerving place.
There are many, many ghost tales in Gloucestershire, as we discovered when Anthony was researching his previous book for The History Press, Gloucestershire Folk Tales (2012) – and you’ll find a sprinkling of ghost tales in that book, as well as Cheltenham tale of Maude’s Elm. So how did we choose which tales to include in the new book – and to tell for our audiences? Ultimately, we chose those which most caught our imagination, though we’ve tried to provide a good spread of geography, theme,and of gloomier as well as more cheerful tales. On 9 December you’ll hear just a sample – cheerful and gloomy – but the book will be available for sale if you are thirsting for more … or are looking for a local stocking filler (and there are lots more nice stocking fillers in The Wilson’s shop as well!)
And who are we? These days, we live in Stroud, but we met at the Bath Storytelling Circle that Anthony founded 16 years ago this December. We are members of Fire Springs, a storytelling company, and have performed widely in Britain and beyond. For some years we ran Stroud Story Cabaret, and we remain active members of Gloucestershire’s storytelling scene. Anthony teaches creative writing at Bath Spa University and is also the author of Exotic Excursions, Storytelling and Ecology and Words of Re-enchantment, and his new novel Deep Time came out this year. He is also the co-editor of Storytelling for a Greener World. Kirsty is the author of Wiltshire Folk Tales and Suffolk Folk Tales and she also just happens to be the Curator of Decorative Art and Designated Collection at The Wilson – a different kind of storytelling!
Kirsty Hartsiotis and Anthony Nanson
Image of Kirsty and Anthony © Fire Springs
Images Gloucestershire Folk Tales and Gloucestershire Ghost Tales covers © The History Press