Canterbury youth creating new histories through heritage
Faced with some “fairly difficult choices” over what to do with the 13th century former Poor Priest’s Hospital in Canterbury, Canterbury City Council Chief Executive, Colin Carmichael, put his trust in The Marlowe Theatre to reimagine what this amazing building could be. Having experimented and explored different options including an interactive exhibition of Kent’s Remarkable Writers and an Escape Room based on the life and death of Christopher Marlowe, the Marlowe team soon realised that “doing less and imposing less on a building like this is more powerful”, allowing the amazing setting, history and environment of this heritage property itself inspire local young people was the key to unlocking its future potential.
Working with their own youth company, local community groups and local schools, Marlowe Theatre allowed young people to develop and be inspired by their own connections with the building. 15 year old, Eli, explains what this meant and how it helped to make the Marlowe Kit feel like home:
“I used to think that heritage buildings were just old buildings full of nothing”, says Eli, “but this building – the Kit – it’s … home. The old feeling inspires you”.
Paul Ainsworth, Marlowe Theatre’s Associate Director (Learning and Participation), adds:
“What I love is that now young people go around this space and talk the things that they’ve done in it. Now it’s a real sense of ownership for them – that they belong in this space”.
Plans are now in place to turn the Marlowe Kit into a permanent Learning Centre and open up the heritage offer that can be opened up to everybody in the wider community.