Home   Whats On   Article

Workshop: Creative writing at Cambridge’s time-capsule house




David Parr House, the perfectly preserved Cambridge home of an Arts & Crafts painter, is hosting a summer writing workshop

The Drawing Room at David Parr House Credit: Lucinda Douglas Menzies
The Drawing Room at David Parr House Credit: Lucinda Douglas Menzies

Few spaces are more atmospheric than Cambridge’s David Parr House. Famous for its intricately hand-painted walls - the handiwork of the eponymous David, turn-of-the-century artworker for city firm F R Leach & Sons, who lived in the Gwydir Street terrace for four decades - step inside any of the carefully conserved rooms and you’re instantly transported.

An interior wall at David Parr House, showing the intricate hand-painting
An interior wall at David Parr House, showing the intricate hand-painting

Where better, then, to find inspiration? As part of this summer’s Letter, Word and Text programme, Cambridge-based writer Sophie Hampton is running a creative writing workshop at the house next month. Taking place on Friday, July 12, 9.30am to 3pm, it’s billed as “enabling budding beginners or those seeking some creative inspiration to draw on the unique setting”.

Author Sophie Hampton, who's hosting the creative writing workshop
Author Sophie Hampton, who's hosting the creative writing workshop

Describing herself as “always looking for stories to uncover in everyday places”, Sophie’s debut novel ‘Neighbours, Strangers’ was recently longlisted for the Discoveries Prize 2024. Her fiction has also been broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and widely published in literary magazines and anthologies.

Workshop participants will receive a tour of selected rooms and an insight into the short story genre to develop ideas for settings, characters and scenarios. There will then be time to spend writing and translating these ideas before group sharing and feedback with Sophie.

David Parr House on Cambridge's Gwydir Street
David Parr House on Cambridge's Gwydir Street

As a workman F R Leach & Sons, David Parr hand-painted houses and churches in schemes created by some of the best architects and designers in the country. In 1886, he bought 186 Gwydir Street and over the next 40 years decorated his terraced home by lamps and candlelight in the style of the grand interiors he worked on every day. After David died in 1927, the home was preserved by his granddaughter, Elsie Palmer for over 85 years. Today, the house is open to visitors with a varied programme of house tours, workshops and events.

Adds Sophie: “Writing can be quite a solitary practice, so workshops, retreats and book clubs can be transformative and a great way to find a supportive social network, spark ideas, get over a writer's block and get feedback on work in progress.”

Crafting Stories from Settings – a creative writing workshop with Sophie Hampton takes place on 12 July, 9.30am to 3pm at David Parr House Visitor Centre. Tickets are £75. Find out more and book at davidparrhouse.org


Read more

More by this author