Picture of raven bird
  • Date: 30th August 2021
  • Location: Rochester Castle, Castle Hill
    ME1 1SW
  • Time: 11:00 - 16:00
  • Cost: Free

Welcome to Cloisterham is a free day-long celebration of Charles Dickens' life and work with a 21st century twist.

In partnership with Wordsmithery, this relaxed, bring-a-picnic event takes place in the Castle Gardens at Rochester.

They have programmed an exciting line-up of prize-winning writers who’ll be performing at Welcome to Cloisterham and are confirming more writers and activities on a daily basis.

Poets who will delight us with their words throughout the day so far include:

  • Bridget Nolan (‘Walking with Dickens’),
  • Pauline Holmes,
  • The Empty Chair Poets,
  • Kent Dreams poets,
  • Setareh Ebrahimi.

They'll also have new short drama and storytelling from Kent-based storytellers and theatre companies, plus music on the Red Geranium stage. So bring a picnic and a rug, and stay for the day, dipping in and out of our literary themed activities at our relaxed one-day festival, celebrating Charles Dickens’ literary legacy.

Cloisterham Commissions:

There are a number of commissioned writers who have produced new material for Welcome to Cloisterham; 

  • Sarah Hehir (who writes for ‘Doctors’ and ‘The Archers’) has written a radio play which will be launched on the day and you can listen to on your phone.
  • Hags Ahoy will present ‘One Spirit’ – a short play where Miss Havisham and Bill Sikes go head to head.
  • ‘Three Droods’ will present a musical rendition of some of Charles Dickens’ poetry – seldom performed to music.
  • Poet James McKay will perform a set of new poems inspired by Charles Dickens.

Activities for children include:

  • Creatabot - making raven puppets.
  • 2-alty - creating Dickensian characters for their emerging graphic novel
  •  ‘Anne Pratt’s Botanical Tattoo Studio’ – where children of all ages will be able to get a botanical tattoo on their arm and make a flower to takeaway as a reminder of the day.
  • A special souvenir treasure hunt, where you might be lucky enough to find one of a limited-edition Charles Dickens themed Secret Hearts by Medway’s Secret Hearts glass artist.


Get involved!

We’ll be making bunting and flowers to decorate the site – could you add to our display?

  • The next textiles / art workshop is at Rochester Library, from 11am to 1pm, Saturday, 31 July.

We’re also making a poetry and short stories pamphlet that we’ll be giving out on the day – could you contribute a story or poem, inspired in some way by Dickens?

  • The next writing workshop is at Chatham Library, from 2.30pm to 4.30pm, Saturday, 31 July

​Places are free, but please book in advance with Medway Libraries on 01634 337799.


The Red Geranium Quilt

The organisers are making a community quilt to display at Welcome to Cloisterham. Could you contribute a panel? See the Wordsmithery website for more information or watch their YouTube video for ideas.


Keeping you safe

Keeping our staff and visitors safe is paramount. Therefore we have ensured our events adhere to the current government advice, including regular enhanced cleaning. However, we ask you take notice of the following:

  • If you have symptoms of COVID-19, please do not come to the event and take a PCR test immediately,
  • As this event is outside, face coverings are optional, however please respect those wearing them,
  • Wash your hands regularly - hand sanitiser stations will be available.
raven at rochester castle