Sir Gawain and the Green Knight – Arts Weekend

A one-off arts event is taking place in Leek in November (16th-18th) celebrating the links between the Staffordshire Moorlands and the epic medieval poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.

This 14th century Arthurian tale features chivalry, romance, temptation and a beheading challenge.  Members of the public are invited to take part and make their mark in a pictorial retelling of the tale guided by local, internationally known artist Sue Prince.  People will also be able to listen to a talk, eat medieval food and take a guided walk to the stunning Lud’s Church with Gawain specialist Clive Foden.

Most scholars now agree that the unknown author of the Gawain poem came from this area and tell-tale signs of this are not only the local accent and words which appear throughout the work, but also local features, such as The Roaches and Lud’s Church, which figure in the action.  The event is being organised by the Dr Plot’s Lesser Known Leek committee who celebrate the poem each July with a parade through the town, complete with giants, culminating in a re-telling of the tale to delighted crowds.

Before the public workshops, Sue Prince, who lives in Ilam, will teach the skill of painting a ‘bonad’ (a style of narrative folk art in egg tempera) to art students at Leek College, and some will become her expert helpers. Then on Friday 16th everyone is invited to come to the Foxlowe, learn the technique and add to Sue’s version of the story: they can even paint a medieval version of themselves along the bottom of the artwork.  The workshop will be repeated on Saturday 17th November, at the College, also from 10.00 am to 4.00 pm.

Also on the Saturday there will be a free children’s workshop Knights, Princesses and Monsters (10.00 am to 3.00 pm) at the Foxlowe, where children can make their own puppets of mediaeval characters.

Clive Foden, a skilled woodcarver and Gawain specialist, will travel from Norfolk to deliver one of his enthralling talks on the evening of Saturday 17th November at the Foxlowe Arts Centre.  He will discuss the poet’s interest in craftsmanship as well as the unmistakeable landscape clues in the poem. The following day, Sunday 18th, Clive will also lead a guided walk over The Roaches and down into Lud’s Church – the poem’s Chapel in the Green where Gawain meets the Green Knight to submit to beheading!

All the events are free (apart from a small transport cost to the guided walk) and to enable them, a successful crowdfunding campaign was launched on 24 September to raise the £3375 needed.

Sequence of Events

Friday, 16th November (10 am – 4 pm) The Town that Painted at the Foxlowe Arts Centre, Market Place, Leek.

This will be a free community ‘paint-in’ of the folk art retelling of the story of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, led by Sue Prince.

Saturday, 17th November (10 am – 4 pm) The Town that Painted at the New Art Block at Leek College, Stockwell Street.  Continuation of the free community ‘paint-in’ but at a different venue.

Saturday, 17th November (10 am – 3 pm)  Knights, Princesses and Monsters.  Workshop for children to make puppets of mediaeval characters.

Saturday, 17th November (7 pm onwards) Craftsmanship and the Gawain Poet at the Foxlowe cafe.

This will be a free talk given by Clive Foden, which will also include mediaeval food to taste.

Sunday, 18th November (10.30 am) Guided Walk to Lud’s Church.  Meet at Leek’s Market Place for the minibus.

The walk will be led by Clive Foden  and the cost will be £10 each to cover transport costs.  There are limited places, so please book  by e-mailing or 07989-986672.

You can follow on Facebook at Sir Gawain and Leek or on Twitter @sirgawainleek.


Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is one of four late 14th century Middle English poems, written in a North West Midland dialect (the others being Pearl, Purity and Patience) and surviving in a single manuscript, held in the British Library. All are thought to have been written by the same unknown author, now known either as the Pearl or the Gawain Poet, believed to have lived and worked around Leek, North Staffordshire. 

For further information

Please contact Lindsay Trevarthen on or 07989-986672.