Anglia Square: A Love Story
New Routes, Old Roots Researcher Leads Citizen Research Project

Dr Jeannette Baxter, Director of New Routes, Old Roots is leading the research phases of Anglia Square: A Love Story, a collaborative, participatory research, music and theatre project, which is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, and which will respond to and record contemporary and historical changes to this iconic area of Norwich’s urban landscape.

Anglia Square has a long and rich history of migration and heritage. In collaboration with The Common Lot Theatre Company, led by Simon Floyd, Jeannette is working with more than 100 citizen researchers to explore Anglia Square’s diverse history and heritage, and to produce research that will inspire creative practice and performance. The citizen researcher team is made up of year 6 students at Wensum Junior School and over 50 community researchers from all walks of life.

Jeannette’s research into the German writer and academic, W. G. Sebald, who was a migrant to Norfolk and whose work challenges official representations of history, has allowed her to develop a Sebaldian methodology of creative historical research for non-academic audiences. In the manner of Sebald’s own research and writing practices, Jeannette’s creative research methodology foregrounds randomness and assemblage, rather than systematic mining, and places creativity, story-telling and the imagination on an equal footing with documentary research practices in order to make room for marginalised and ‘lost’ historical voices to emerge.
The citizen researchers will use this ‘Sebaldian’ method of creative historical research throughout the life of the project.

How Is the Research Organised?

There are 3 research phases:

PHASE1 (Jan-March), researchers will work in teams to explore three related strands of research:

• Early Histories of Anglia Square: Research into Mereholt Area; Stump Cross; lost parishes of St Olaf’s (and others); Anglo-Saxon, Viking & Medieval Norwich; non-conformist Norwich. Supported by Magdalen Walks.

• Political & Planning Histories: 1959 to 1971. Rresearch into architectural and heritage impacts (demolition of historic buildings & loss of medieval street patterns etc) & societal and economic impacts on local communities. Input from Norwich Society & Norfolk Museum Services.

• Oral Histories: Stories of Anglia Square (Past & Present). Researchers will collect stories (interviews, Vox Pops, news & media stories) about people who live & work in area. Supported by BBC Voices.

The research findings from phase 1 will be curated and handed-over to the project writers who will use the research as material for writing the show!

PHASE 2 (March–July) Practice-based research OR turning research into creative practice. Our citizen researchers will work with local artists, writers, & theatre perfomers to translate their research into creative outputs, such as songs, stories, short drama pieces etc.

PHASE 3 (July-December). The research community will develop a heritage publication, which they will design, edit and publish.

What Now…?

Research Phase 1 is happening apace. Researchers are meeting every week to develop action plans and achieve their research aims.

Here you can also read the Director’s blog and follow how our young researchers at Wensum Junior School are getting on…

Director’s blog 1: Anglia Square: A Love Story

Director’s blog 2: Coffee, Connection and Challenge

Wensum Junior School: Anglia Square Citizen Research