Revenants and Remains

In this exciting project, we brought students, artists and historians together at two of our northern sites to create photographic responses to ruined buildings using themes of the gothic and the supernatural. 

In November 2022 and January 2023, we worked with Photoworks to run photography workshops at Lanercost Priory and Furness Abbey, led by artist and curator Sarah Sparkes.

Sarah’s work explores magical or mythical narratives, exploring the borderlands where science and magic intersect, which was the perfect fit for this project.

We aimed to inspire and engage young people in the appreciation of ruined architectural heritage through the supernatural lore and legend that has become associated with each ruin, using creative acts of interpretation – in this case, photography.

Sarah runs the visual arts and creative research project GHost, hosting seminars and exhibitions to manifest and interrogate the idea of the ghost. You can find out more about her work here.

SIte Photography Galleries

To see all the photos from the students, and their descriptions, check out the galleries’ for each site below…

Furness Abbey

Founded almost 900 years ago, Furness Abbey was once the largest and wealthiest monastery in north-west England. Today, Furness has some of the finest monastic ruins in England. Click on the link below to see the students’ photography at the site and read their reflections on their work.

Lanercost Priory

Lanercost Priory is a well-preserved medieval monastic site in northern England, founded in 1169. It housed a community of Augustinian canons and later became home to a branch of the Dacre family. Link coming soon see the ghostly images the students took and read their reflections.

‘As an artist fascinated by ghosts, it’s been incredibly rewarding to lead workshops for Revenants and Remains. Learning about the haunted medieval and Gothic history of each site from Dale and Michael while among the atmospheric ruins was an inspiring experience for both the students and myself and this is clear in the photographs they have produced. Thanks to Photoworks and English Heritage for superb co-ordination and support throughout. This had been an amazing opportunity for both the students and myself – the legacy of Revenants and Remains means that the the past will continue to engage audiences long into the future’


Sarah Sparkes, artist

These workshops were part of a wider programme entitled Experiencing Britain’s Ruins: Revenants and Remains at Five Northern English Religious Houses’ an exciting series of public events, tours, workshops and other activities generously funded by an Arts and Humanities Research Council.

Experiencing Britain’s Ruins sought to apply the fruits of historical research to the modern-day heritage sector, and involved a year-long collaboration between Professor Dale Townshend of the Centre for Gothic Studies at Manchester Metropolitan University; Dr Michael Carter, Senior Properties Historian at English Heritage; Dr Dominique Bouchard, English Heritage’s Head of Learning and Interpretation; award-winning novelist, poet and performer Rosie Garland; and Robert Lloyd Parry of Nunkie Productions, teller of ghost stories extraordinaire.

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