Thomas Chatterton’s Poetic City

To commemorate Bristol’s boy-poet, Thomas Chatterton as part of A Poetic City; a city-wide collaboration coordinated by Bristol Ideas, Local Learning has been working with St Mary Redcliffe Church, schools and communities exploring themes from Chatterton’s tragically short life. The project has explored the poet’s prolific writing and the legacy he left behind as the young man widely regarded as the father of British Romantic poetry.

We have delivered inter-generational community mapping activities to inform a poetry atlas capturing both Chatterton’s ‘imagined’ medieval Bristol and the 18th century city in which he grew up, as well as maps developed with students and local residents that will include shared memories of growing up in Redcliffe and future aspirations for the area.

The poetry atlas also provides an opportunity to examine a range of themes, including issues arising from the recent Black Lives Matter events whilst looking back to the social and political landscape of Chatterton’s 18th century Bristol.  

St Mary Redcliffe 6th formers and UWE History and Masters Architecture students worked with Bristol’s first modern day City Poet, Miles Chambers to explore themes around memorialisation.

Following an inter-generational conversation with writers, activists, poets, historians ands academics the students collectively composed a poem that was shaped by Miles Chambers, Remembering Chatterton.

The series of multi-layered maps will bring together all elements of the project, informed by stories and poetry captured both within and beyond living memory, bespoke guided tours of St Mary Redcliffe Church and surrounding area tailored specifically to this project and community research.

Image of Chatterton’s imagined map of medieval Redcliffe appears in The Complete Works of Thomas Chatterton, ed. Donald S. Taylor in association with Benjamin B. Hoover, 2 vols [continuously paginated] (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1971).