17 December 2020

The wicked girls of Red Lodge

In 1854, Mary Carpenter set up the first ever reformatory school for girls at Red Lodge.

It provided board and training to female ‘delinquents’ under the age of sixteen. An alternative goal was to prevent children from becoming hardened criminals.

Mary Carpenter wrote two journals describing the day-to-day running of the first six years of the school. They reveal her ongoing battles with the older girls.

She describes the ‘wickedness, daring and vulgarity’ she encountered, and the punishments she was forced to use to keep the girls on a righteous path. These included placing them in separation cells which can still be found in the basement of The Red Lodge Museum.

Commissioned by A Poetic City, Emma Williams was writer in resident at Red Lodge in September. She researched these ‘wicked girls’ and using monologues and poetry created voices for individuals whose only significant historical mark was a surname in Mary Carpenters journal.

This talk will investigate the lives of the Red Lodge girls between 1854 – 1860. It will explore the techniques Emma used to transform archive material into dramatic text and discuss the ways in which the museum itself, the oak room and isolation cells, influenced the research.

Speaker: Emma Williams, writer and theatre director.

This is a UWE Regional History Centre talk in partnership with M Shed seminar series.

A Poetic City is a city-wide programme that explores the legacy of the Bristol-born poet, Thomas Chatterton. Four local writers – including Emma Williams – have been appointed to work in selected cultural venues in Bristol as part of the wide-ranging programme celebrating the city’s literary and poetic heritage.

How to take part

This free, online talk will be held over Zoom. Please book your place below. Details of how to join the session will be in your registration email. Please check your spam folder if the email does not arrive. Bookings close at 2pm on Thursday 17 December..

Although this talk is free, we would be grateful if you could consider making a donation.

Please visit the Zoom website for guidance on joining meetings. Please allow extra time before the talk begins to make sure everything is working correctly. It’s up to you whether you turn on your video but all guests will be muted once the talk begins. You are welcome to ask questions in the chat box throughout the talk.

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