NEWS: This Liberty live @ Hexham Abbey | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image of Trev Gibb and Matt Stokes

Gateshead-based artist Matt Stokes and revered musician Richard Dawson, will reveal how Hexham Old Gaol and its former inmates inspired a set of modern-day ballads, during a one-off event on Friday 6th October. The event, at the Great Hall at Hexham Abbey sees Stokes talking about the creation of film installation This Liberty which draws on border ballads and five new songs to tell the stories of characters associated with the 687-year-old-building. .

The characters whose stories are told through the ballads are: John de Cawood, the first gaoler of Hexham who took up his post in 1332; a petty criminal, typical of many who were imprisoned there; a wealthy prisoner based on a notorious border reiver called Gerard ‘Topping’ Charlton who was imprisoned in the 1530s; a local citizen who visited the gaol and gave money or food to poor inmates; and a priest who would have looked after the spiritual needs of the prisoners.

Richard Dawson collaborated on the creation of this project , and will give a live performance at the October event. Guests will also have the chance to visit Hexham Old Gaol during the evening to see This Liberty on show within the Gaol building. North East venues including Hexham Abbey and HMP Durham are the backdrop for the film installation, with each song filmed in a different location, and the ballads are sung by Richard Dawson, George Unthank, Dawn Bothwell, Trev Gibb and Marry Waterson.

A limited number of free places are available for the This Liberty live event. To secure a place, email

This Liberty is on show at Hexham Old Gaol until Tuesday 31st October 2017.

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