A Very Victorian Murder: Review of The Woolly Tellers
On a brisk autumnal evening last week, I had the pleasure of attending A Very Victorian Murder. It’s not quite as bad as it sounds – the murder took place over 160 years ago – but its tragic events were to be retold in an atmospheric evening of dramatic narration.
Our hosts for the evening were local raconteurs The Woolly Tellers, who have been performing to audiences for the past eight years and most often specialise in stories local to Nottinghamshire.
In the face of technological overload, I rather find good old-fashioned entertainment quite refreshing, and back in January another of their shows had caught my eye. ‘Definitely Not Respectable’ sounded right up my street, promising the rare treat of jovial music hall entertainment, and from what I have since heard it turned out to be a highly entertaining night. (Read our previous blog here.) I was rather miffed to have missed it so was excited to catch them this time around.
As the bar beneath Annie’s Burger Shack began to fill up, the hum of excitement soon turned into a cosy atmosphere of captivation. Mick and Dave began their tale describing the grandeur of Nottingham before the 19th century, when the city was famed for having the largest market place in the country and was known throughout the land as spacious ‘garden city’. Then came the boom of the Industrial Revolution, and with it an influx of workers from the nearby countryside, competing for work in factories making lace and hosiery. The streets began to gradually overcrowd in the districts of Narrowmarsh and Broadmarsh and poverty became rife.
I was previously aware of this transition in Nottingham’s history, but never had I heard the story in such a compelling and detailed manner. The descriptions brought to life the sights, smells, hardships and horrific conditions which were experienced daily in Victorian England. With dashings of humour and humility (and no flashy CGI in sight) The Woolly Tellers transported the audience back over 170 years.
The focus then turned to the true story of the Saville family, whose gruesome murder in Colwick Woods stunned the people of Nottingham and beyond in 1844. When the prime suspect was trialled and publicly executed at Shire Hall (now the National Justice Museum) the unexpected events that followed outside the hall were equally as tragic, but ultimately resulted in a display of great unity and compassion by the people of Nottingham.
I won’t reveal any more of the story as I’d highly recommend going to a Woolly Tellers performance, but will mention how the tale stuck with me after the show. A familiar spot in the city can be seen afresh after you’ve discovered a fascinating story from its past, and since hearing the story of the Saville trial I haven’t walked past Shire Hall without imagining those events over 170 years ago.
If you are up for a unique night of entertainment, and enjoy discovering more about Nottingham’s past, then The Woolly Tellers are for you. There are a number of new performances coming up over the next few months which promise to be atmospheric evenings of suspense, intrigue and quality stories. Take a look below at what is coming up, and don’t forget to check out the following links to hear more from The Woolly Tellers.
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Upcoming Woolly Tellers events…
- Dark Tales & Dire Deeds
The Malt Cross – Friday 27th OctoberAs Halloween approaches this will be an alternative performance featuring dastardly tales that take us to the darker side of human nature. Tickets are £8.00 and bookable through The Malt Cross website.
- Christmas Tales
The Malt Cross – Friday 8th DecemberCome along to the Malt Cross and listen to a performance of spoken word with Mick Waysall and Dave Brookes. Sit back and let The Woolly Tellers entertain you with humorous and magical tales from this festive time of year. Tickets £8.00 bookable through The Malt Cross. (Link not yet on the site presently)
- Christmas at The Hall
Wollaton Hall – Saturday 16th DecemberThis will be the same performance as Christmas Tales, but in the magical location of Wollaton Hall’s grand hall. Tickets £12.00 (This includes wine, chocs and mince pies!)