Sunday, 22 May 2016

Walk With Me at Felbrigg Hall, Norfolk

A Walk With Me Felbrigg Hall

"Weird", says Stephen and he's not entirely wrong. It is a little odd to be walking in the beautiful grounds of Norfolk's Felbrigg Hall, wearing headphones and carrying an iPad for navigation. We're certainly getting a few peculiar looks from people walking their dogs.

Felbrigg Hall Clock

Felbrigg Hall signposts

Felbrigg Hall Walled Garden

We're taking part in Walk With Me, a 'walkscape' designed by sound artists Jeroen Strijbos and Rob van Rijswijk. The experience is primarily audial in the form of narrations, snippets of conversations, ghostly voices and musical accompaniments.

Avenues of Felbrigg Hall

At first, the experience is quite surreal, you'll hear the beginnings of a conversation before it fades away, a strange utterance without context. Stephen might be quite right in his estimation of the experience.

At the point of the Victory V at  of Felbrigg Hall
At the point of the V for Victory

And then the penny drops. In the narration, a young girl is observing a couple sitting together on a bench and suddenly in front of me I see the bench. I turn around and see the V for victory and it's akin to a reverse virtual reality experience. Rather than disappearing into my head and into technology, I'm standing in this vast outdoor space and experiencing it with all my senses.

A gate in Felbrigg Hall

Beware livestock at Felbrigg Hall

Buttercup at Felbrigg Hall

A fallen tree at Felbrigg Hall

I begin to piece together the clues, as generations of voices tell their stories. They are all interconnected in some way and all are connected to Felbrigg Hall, to its history, to actual events that took place there.

The sessile oak tree at Felbrigg Hall
The 500-year-old sessile oak tree

When we began our experience, the man from National Trust told us that there were up to 6 hours of narration available which meant that you could spend a whole day exploring the grounds. I can believe him. We never did find the ice house, having turned down the second part of the Victory V instead of heading west. But we did find the incredible 500-year-old hollow oak tree and many other treasures besides.

Inside the oak tree at Felbrigg Hall
Inside the hollow oak tree

Incidentally, he also told us not to worry if we got lost or disappeared. The local Norfolk police would be able to track down the iPads and retrieve them, even if switched off. He mentioned nothing of our own rescue, of course. (And so we were introduced to the fantastic Norfolk sense of humour).

Fences of Felbrigg Hall

Conservation area Felbrigg Hall

Beauty of Felbrigg Hall

Wildflowers of Felbrigg Hall

Forboding skies at Felbrigg Hall

Felbrigg Hall in the distance

Back to the walk and we begin to see Felbrigg Hall to our left and know that we haven't strayed too far off the beaten track. Each time life's stresses begin to seep back into my conscious, I'm drawn back in to the narration, seeking more clues and spotting more landmarks. The church is up ahead, spotted with graves located just inside the church walls.

St Margaret's Church Felbrigg Hall

Sheep of Felbrigg Hall

Lamb Felbrigg Hall

All too soon, we begin to spy signs of life and we find ourselves back at Felbrigg Hall. What a wonderful, exhilarating experience!

Felbrigg Hall

Walk With Me is a fantastic immersive experience and one that I would love to repeat, if only to find the clues that we missed and piece together more of this ghostly story.

The name ‘Felbrigg’ dates back to the Danish invasions at the end of the first millennium. In 1450, the estate passed out of the hands of the de Felbrigg family and into the hands of the Windham family where it remained until Admiral William Lukin inherited it in 1824.In 1863, a Norwich Corn Merchant by the name of John Ketton bought the estate for £77,238, the equivalent of £7.7m today. Born in 1906, Robert Wyndham Ketton-Cremer was the last squire of Felbrigg Hall. It is he who planted the Victory V in 1946 to commemorate VE day and the death of his brother Richard who was killed in Crete in 1940. Robert never married and bequeathed Felbrigg Hall to the National Trust on his death.

Felbrigg Hall
Felbrigg
Norwich
Norfolk
NR11 8PR

Directions: 2 miles from Cromer; off B1436, signposted from A148 and A140
[Important: do not trust your SatNav!]

The Walk With Me experience runs at Felbrigg Hall Gardens and Estate until Sunday 30 October 2016. The experience costs £8 and includes the use of iPad and headphones.

We visited Felbrigg Hall as part of the Norfolk & Norwich Festival, one of the UK’s longest-running and largest international arts festivals featuring film, dance, contemporary music and a host of other events.

I’d like to thank Visit Norwich, Look Sideways–East and National Trust for inviting me to experience Walk With Me at Felbrigg Hall. Our visit was complimentary and as always, all views and enthusiam are my own.

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© 2008 - Mandy Southgate | Emm in London

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