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Please sir, can I have some more? Could you help write a new song to reflect the history of Gressenhall’s workhouse?

PUBLISHED: 06:00 21 March 2017 | UPDATED: 07:34 21 March 2017

Surely gruel will feature in the lyrics of a new song about Gressenhall workhouse? Rachel Duffield tried gruel as part of a workhouse diet for a week. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Surely gruel will feature in the lyrics of a new song about Gressenhall workhouse? Rachel Duffield tried gruel as part of a workhouse diet for a week. Picture: Matthew Usher.

© Archant Norfolk 2014

The most famous workhouse song has to be “Food, Glorious Food” sung by Oliver Twist and his fellow starving urchins in the musical adaptation of Dickens’ fictional tale of Victorian London.

School may not have been the best days of workhouse children's lives. Pictured in the Victorian classroom is Miriam Burroughs. Picture: Ian Burt School may not have been the best days of workhouse children's lives. Pictured in the Victorian classroom is Miriam Burroughs. Picture: Ian Burt

But do you think you could do better?

Rural life museum Gressenhall Farm & Workhouse is asking people to join in an exciting project to create and perform a brand new composition inspired by its rich history and stories of the impoverished inmates who lived there.

Museum staff have joined forces with 15-piece orchestra Sinfonia Viva, a virtuoso ensemble with a reputation for delivering original and creative musical experiences.

Musicians and other arts and drama professionals from Sinfonia Viva will be working with Gressenhall staff, the Writers Centre, a lyricist, a composer and local schools and groups to create the music and lyrics.

Picture: Ian Burt Picture: Ian Burt

Another important element is to form a community choir to join in with devising and performing the new work which will be called Together To The Workhouse Door.

Learning and engagement officer Rachel Duffield said: “We would love as many people as possible to join with us.

“You don’t have to be a brilliant singer or even read music - it’s just a once in a lifetime opportunity to be a part of something really different.”

Sinfonia Viva will bring a huge inflatable theatre to the courtyard at Gressenhall for the concert in June and it will be an outdoor performance similar to, but a bit smaller than, concerts at Blickling or Holkham Hall.

Scenes from Gressenhall during its days as a workhouse Scenes from Gressenhall during its days as a workhouse

The maximum commitment from participants is eight dates across March, April and May, plus the performances on June 7 and 8.

Rehearsals and performances will all be held at Gressenhall Farm & Workhouse and those taking part do not have to attend all the rehearsals.

The concert follows on the heels of an original song written for Gressenhall by soulful harmony group Arcelia last year.

The first get-together for the new song is an inspiration evening on Wednesday, March 29 at Gressenhall for participants to learn the history and hear some stories and take part in music and writing sessions.

For more information and to sign up to the project email bookings administrator Ellie at gressenhall.museum@norfolk.gov.uk or telephone 01362 869251.

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