Bards take a seat for storytelling at first St Albans Gorsedd

Alex Baranovskij on the storyteller's chair in St Peter's churchyard

Alex Baranovskij on the storyteller's chair in St Peter's churchyard - Credit: Archant

Come gather ‘round the storyteller’s chair and prepare to be transported back in time to the days of bards, heroes and dragons.

A handcrafted wooden chair and circle of benches has been installed in St Peter’s churchyard ready for the first St Albans Gorsedd, a celebration of the bardic arts of storytelling, music, poetry and song, which takes its cue from the Welsh Eisteddfod and forms part of the St Albans Literary Festival.

Gorsedd participants are all members of the local community and the programme will feature flash fiction with a twist from a local novelist, poetry both humorous and romantic, tales of ancient local Celtic tribes, stories of the kingdom of trees and the lore of apples, traditional music and folk-song, fairy stories and fables of dragons.

The new storytelling feature has been carved by local University of Hertfordshire art student, Alex Baranovskij, who will be the guest of honour at Saturday’s free event.

The Mayor of St Albans will open the Gorsedd at 12pm in St Peter’s churchyard in the presence of invited guests from the university and wider community, along with Gorsedd competitors and spectators. The event will conclude with the crowning of the “Bard of St Albans” in the storyteller’s chair, chosen by a local panel of judges.

The fairytale chair, which features two feisty dragons, and accompanying benches have been made out of a mature cedar tree that came down in the storms of last winter.

The Rev’d Anne Hollinghurst, vicar of St Peter’s said: “We were sorry to lose the tree but thrilled that Alex took on the challenge of giving it new life by turning it into such a wonderful creation.

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“Stories are important to both children and adults. Through them we explore who we and others are and what our world is like. Jesus was himself a great storyteller.”

The carvings are the result of the church’s latest project to create art installations at St Peters, which has been led by Paul Cartwright working with students and alumni of the University of Hertfordshire, with the intention of giving them opportunities to showcase their talents by commissioning ambitious public works of art. A grant from St Albans city and district community grants fund has helped to fund the project.

The inaugural storytelling event will run between 12noon to 2pm and will be suitable for all the family. There will be “bardic” food and drink to sustain performers and audience alike – a rustic barbeque and mulled ale or spiced punch will be available to purchase.