Hidden Stories, Hidden Voices

Hidden Stories, Hidden Voices LOGO EDHidden Stories, Hidden Voices is a creative project run by Alison Mott on behalf of Writing East Midlands.

As part of the project, Alison runs creative activities in the community to raise public awareness of the Old Rectory, a former medieval mansion which sits next door to Loughborough Parish Church in the town’s heritage quarter.  The workshops have taken place at Limehurst Academy and with Nanpantan Brownie pack, at Fearon Hall, All Saints Parish Church, The Three Nuns pub and Charnwood Museum.

The idea for the project came from Alison’s feelings of disconnection from Loughborough’s history as she was growing up, and her own discovery of the Old Rectory some years ago.

‘I was born in Loughborough but my parents weren’t,’ she said.  ‘They came here in the 1950s for work.  I grew up feeling that Loughborough’s history had nothing to do with me because we weren’t from here, and it wasn’t until I stumbled on the Old Rectory and began volunteering there that that changed.’

‘In learning about the town’s past, I’ve come to realise that Loughborough’s story is one of ordinary people coming here, making it their home and becoming part of the community, whether that’s in recent times, 70 years ago like my parents, or hundreds of years ago when the town first began.’

Alison uses historical stories and artefacts to prompt people’s own memories, which she then encourages them to write down.  Amongst other things, she’s collected the story of a woman who worked three local milk rounds in the 1980s and a man whose father settled here after being stationed at Quorn in WW2.  ‘I’m excited to be doing my bit to preserve these memories so others can enjoy them,’ she said.  ‘It’s wonderful to think they’ll become part of Loughborough’s history for future generations to read.’

All Saints Church

Loughborough Parish Church from the Old Rectory’s secret staircase.

The grade II listed former rectory is one of Loughborough’s oldest buildings, but few people know anything about it.  It was lived in for centuries by rectors of the Parish Church next door, but was vacated in 1958 and plans made to knock it down.  It was saved from total demolition by the campaigning of volunteers from Loughborough Archaeological and Historical Society, who helped get it listed and now run it as a museum.

The Hidden Stories, Hidden Voices project – named to reflect the way the ancient part of the rectory was hidden for centuries beneath a more modern exterior – is funded jointly by the Arts Council and Charnwood Borough Council.

The project has built towards an exhibition of people’s stories which opened at the Old Rectory Museum on Saturday 27th October and will open for a second and final day on Saturday 3rd November.  An anthology of the stories will be published in December.

Alison can be contacted at charnwoodcreatives@gmail.com.

Old Rectory - front view

The Old Rectory Museum as seen from Rectory Place. It’s open on Saturdays during the summer months from 11 am till 3 pm .