Let the Outside in | Belsay Awakes

As part of the Belsay Awakes project, TICE students had the opportunity to put a creative spin on the magic and mystique behind Belsay Hall, Castle & Gardens.

Belsay Awakes is a £6million project delivered over three years, aiming to transform a visitor’s experience at Belsay Castle, Hall & Gardens. For the second and last year, TICE was given an opportunity to be a part of the transformation. By doing so, we have created four Belsay-inspired creative projects for students to be involved in. Let’s take a look at what they have created.


Creative Writing: Let the Outside In

Mentored By: Sarah Davy – Writing Mentor

Project Contributors: Dr David Cooper – Senior Lecturer in English at Manchester Metropolitan University, Nicola Chester – Nature Writer, Columnist, Workshop Leader

The Brief:

Nature is everywhere, from distant hills and local rivers to back gardens and cracks in the pavement. Sometimes it is created by us, sometimes it happens all on its own. Sometimes, we don’t even notice it. But it is always there, a reassuring presence that underpins our whole lives.

And how we see, talk about, and engage with nature helps us understand and appreciate it.

Students explored nature and place writing and how this can help them tell stories that matter. These stories helped others to engage in and enjoy nature and showed them how to immerse themselves and explore all of their senses.

Through research and writing, they explored how they might write about nature. They focused particularly on creative non-fiction and also used mapping, wordplay and a multi-sensory approach.

Bringing everything they learned together, they were tasked to write their own piece of creative non-fiction about the magical outside spaces at Belsay Hall, Castle & Gardens.


Project Results:

Please view the final results of the student’s work from Cardinal Hume Catholic School, Durham School and Duchess’s Community High School.


What did the students think of their Belsay Awakes experience?

Please tell us why you chose this project:

“I’ve always been a bit of a bookworm and I love to write myself by utilising the techniques I learn from other sources, so being able to have a course on professional writing would give me an insight into how the industry works and if I would want to go into it.” Ethan Johnson, Durham School

What was your favourite part of the project?

“My favourite part has been exploring Belsay and listening to advise from professionals.” Grace Atkinson, Cardinal Hume Catholic School

“Visiting Belsay and admiring the gardens. I took many pictures which were very useful when writing my final piece.” Makoto Kurio, Duchess Community High School

What do you think you will take away from doing this project?

“From this project, I will take away a new expression on how to view the world and a new thing to write about. Also, it has given me a thought about what I want to do in the future.” Grace Atkinson, Cardinal Hume Catholic School

“I will take away the ability to look at nature through a different perspective, a new way to write and a new Inspiration to write.” Riley Allen, Cardinal Hume Catholic School

What do you feel you have personally achieved in completing this project?

“I feel personally I have achieved a new skill on how to interpret areas and link it to my life and to my emotions. Also, I have achieved a sense of doing something new.” Grace Atkinson, Cardinal Hume Catholic School

Having written my own piece of writing about and having contributed to the restoration of Belsay through creative nonfiction, and having it published publicly online.” Ethan Johnson, Durham School.


And finally…

Thank you and well done, not only to the students but to the teachers and staff at Cardinal Hume Catholic School, Boldon School, Ponteland High School, Duchess’s Community High School, Durham School and Consett Academy. A big thank you to Melanie Hills and Helen Klemm and the team at Belsay Hall, Castle and Gardens, English Heritage and the companies that have supported and contributed to this project and to the TICE team that plugged away at the project week after week.

To the students – we hope you have enjoyed this project, we hope in years to come that you can proudly present an industry written project you did and quite frankly smashed. Well done and congratulations from everyone here at TICE.

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