Stanmer, Arts, and History

Stanmer Oral History Project
Stanmer Oral History Project

Several months ago I contacted Bethan Prosser of Brighton University’s Community University Partnership Programme. I have been looking for support on and off for a while now – both academic and practical. Until recently, apart from some very good meetings with some of their staff nothing has as yet materialized.

One of these meetings was with Sam Carroll of the Centre for Research in Memory, Narrative and Histories. She has worked with a number of community groups and projects teaching oral history skills.

A few months ago now, Sam set up a meeting with Sara Clifford of Inroads Productions, Veronica of Zap Art, Peggy and myself to explore the possibilities of creating a community project relating to our own historical researches of the Newmarket Farm and its surroundings. Whilst this was not immediately successful, Inroads Productions has an exciting project new project centred on 300 years of social change relating to the Stanmer estate. They have a Facebook page.


Local company, Inroads productions, has been awarded R&D funding through the Arts Council England’s Grants For The Arts Scheme to develop Stanmer, a brand new play to be written by Sara Clifford.

This site specific play will explore the history of Stanmer House and its surrounding park, with particular reference to the early 1960s, a time of great social and cultural change, when Sussex University was being built next door.

Mixing eighteenth, nineteenth, twentieth- and even twenty-first- century histories, together with a ‘60s groove, and informed and inspired by the memories of local residents, the play will explore how we approach our history – from stately homes to country parks, from monuments to common land- and asks what is our ‘heritage’? What do we want from it? And to whom does it belong?

It is planned that the play will be produced by Veronica Stephens for Zap Art and Sara Clifford for Inroads Productions in May 2015, as part of the Brighton Fringe, with a professional cast and director, and involving up to 100 local people as participants.

Getting involved:

There will be plenty of opportunities for members of the community to get involved by either contributing their stories and memories or taking part in free oral history training sessions delivered by Brighton University Centre For Research in Memory Narrative & Histories.


A key element of the project, will be to work with local residents to collect their memories of the House and park, and particularly the early days of the university, as well as family stories about working at the House. Do you have a story to share? Then please get in touch..


Training in the collection of oral histories will be delivered by Dr Sam Carroll from the University of Brighton Centre For Research in Memory Narrative & Histories. Over four sessions, people will be able to learn about how to conduct interviews, how to use digital recording equipment and how to summarise and transcribe stories. They will be able to contribute to the oral history archive, and take away new skills to learn about their own families and local history.

The sessions will take place on Saturday 4th October (10-1pm); Wednesday 8th October (6-8pm) ( both at the Writers Place); and Thursday October 23rd 5.3- 7.30pm and Thursday November 6th, 5.30 – 7.30 both at Room M57, Grand Parade, University of Brighton.

Would you be interested in taking part ? Then please get in touch..


Sara Clifford

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Dr Sam Carroll
Research Centre Administrator
Centre for Research in Memory, Narrative and Histories
CRD, Faculty of Arts
Grand Parade
University of Brighton
United Kingdom

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