Short stories inspired by the archives

Workshop posterBarry and Sam led a creative writing workshop at the Medway Archives and Local Studies Centre on 11 July.

The idea of the workshop was to find out how to use the Archives’ amazing collection of local information as a basis or inspiration for a short story.

There is a bit of a misconception that nothing of interest ever happens around here – but a surprising amount of stuff has happened once you start digging! All of which could provide inspiration for a story with a local bent…

For your delight (and possible short story writing inspiration) here are some facts, local myths and legends re-discovered yesterday. Did you know that…

Noted 19th century artist and patricide Richard Dadd was born in Brompton and murdered his father near Cobham, before calmly walking back to The Crown in Rochester and washing his hands, before fleeing for France!

Local shopkeeper and fire warden ‘Robbo’ Robinson kicked incendiary bombs off the top of Gillingham gasworks in WW2, and without him most of Gillingham would not be here. He was awarded a George Medal for this.

In 1661, Transylvanian prince Cossuma Albertus was buried at Rochester Cathedral. According to Samuel Pepys in his diary Cossuma was murdered by his own coachman near Gad’s Hill. Rumours still persist that the unlucky prince was a vampire!

On D-Day in 1944, an American bomber crashed on Corporation Road in Gillingham after a mid-air collision.

And then there’s the legend of the Medway Bogman… Neck broken, lolling backwards, hunting dogs straining at the leash from either arm, hangman tattoo on his shoulder, haunting the streets of Medway in the dead of night. This mysterious legend, myth or outright lie, (from Medway Towns, Ottaker’s Local History Series, 2001) tells the story of a mysterious Neolithic zombie who may or may not have been involved in a child’s murder in the 1930s, and may or may not have escaped from Eastgate House during the war, never to be seen again since the 1950s when an exorcism was carried out at Upchurch.

Witchcraft, wife-selling, ‘beastly intoxication’, a ventriloquist in court, and a female bargeman are all other local factual stories that could inspire your own fictional stories!

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