R & D Residency at Sutton Hoo

We are hugely excited to announce that Cohere Arts were recently awarded funding from Arts Council England to support the research & development phase of a new performance project in collaboration with National Trust’s Sutton Hoo site.

To kick start the project, this week Cohere’s artistic director Amy Mallett completed a 5-day residency at Sutton Hoo’s Tranmer House, once home of Edith Pretty, the landowner responsible for the famous Sutton Hoo dig. The famous 1939 excavation, led by Basil Brown, unearthed an Anglo-Saxon ship and the richest burial ever found in Northern Europe just as England.

“Might I come and see the wonderful things?”

From a letter written to Edith Pretty following the ship’s discovery in 1939

Working with the support of National Trust Collections & House Officer Jack Clark, Amy spent 5 days examining archive material relating to key figures in the Sutton Hoo story. Highlights were:

  • A characterful diary documenting a 6-month stay in Paris, completed by Edith to finish her education in 1901
  • The accounts of Londoners who had spent time at Sutton Hoo as evacuees during the second world war
  • Photographs and recollections of ex-Land Army Girls who had lived in Tranmer House whilst undertaking farming work for the war effort

“After dinner, we talked to our fellow companions and practised high kicking!”

Extract from the diary of Edith Dempster, 1901

On day 4, Amy was joined by director Emma Bernard as they scoped all aspects of the site, from the Anglo-Saxon exhibition and replica treasure to the viewing tower overlooking burial mounds and the river Deben.

The long term aim of the project is to create a new musical performance piece elevating female voices & perspectives in the Sutton Hoo story. The piece will involve professional performers working alongside members of the Suffolk community to produce a site specific performance piece, which will then be transformed into an immersive audio experience at the site for visitors to access in years to come.

Special thanks to Josh Ward, Senior Visitor Experience Officer, and other colleagues at National Trust Sutton Hoo, for enabling this residency to happen.