Pupils take town history to stage

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Pupils from three Morpeth schools are to bring to life an important part of their town’s long and proud history to celebrate the launch of a new book by prolific local author Bridget Gubbins.

The youngsters from Chantry and Newminster Middle Schools and St Robert’s First School will present two performances based on tales in Mrs Gubbins’ latest book The Conquest of Morpeth, which is being published with the help of the Heritage Lottery Fund to help local schools and their pupils explore the town’s history between 1066 and 1113.

The book marks a departure in the author’s writing style because it is the first she has published for young readers and is aimed at helping them learn more about Morpeth’s history.

The time in question focuses around the Norman Conquest, its aftermath and impact on a town like Morpeth, all of which was chronicled by Mrs Gubbins in the latest of her series of books about the town entitled Juliana and Ranulph of Morpeth Castle, published last year by the Greater Morpeth Development Trust.

The book tells the story of Juliana, a daughter of the Gospatric family exiled to the Borders by William the Conqueror’s supporters, including William de Merlay, the first Baron of Morpeth. She was forced into an arranged marriage in 1113 to his son Ranulph to try to bring peace to the North of England and Scotland.

“It was such an important, but not very well known period of Morpeth’s past that, in association with the trust, we decided to adapt the book for children so that they could more easily understand and grasp the facts about this crucial chapter in the history of our town,” said Mrs Gubbins.

For the past few weeks pupils from the three Morpeth schools have been rehearsing their own dramatic interpretations of some of those stories to mark the launch of The Conquest of Morpeth book.

The Chantry and Newminster youngsters will stage their performance in their school hall on Thursday, November 23, while St Robert’s youngsters will perform in their school hall at 2pm, on Thursday, November 28.

All performances are free and open to the public.

Mrs Gubbins added: “All the young people taking part have worked so hard making their props and costumes, as well as rehearsing their parts in their play, and it has been such a joy to see them learning about the history of their town in this way.”

The Conquest of Morpeth will be on sale at The Chantry and local book shops.