Taffy Thomas MBE Grasmere Storyteller.
Situated in Grasmere, across from St.Oswald’s Churchyard is a very special place. In a row of 17th Century cottages is the home of Taffy Thomas MBE.
One of the earliest occupants was a Richard Harrison who died in 1662. By the eighteenth century it had become Robert Newton’s Inn and William Wordsworth, his brother John and Coleridge stayed here for several days during their tour of the Lake District in 1797. Now it is the home of The Northern Centre for Storytelling. Tales in Trust is a resource for storytelling in the North of England.
Taffy has always been a familiar character, in the old days he used to cycle round on his tricycle nowadays he has a wonderful minibus called Betsy II. Always with a story or a riddle to tell, he is one of life’s real characters.
Taffy has given enjoyment to children and adults all over the world with his stories, and was recently given the amazing title of the first ever Laureate for Storytelling. Running for two years from Jan 2010 to Jan 2012 he is now truly a fine ambassador of storytelling. As Laureate he was given several gifts. These were:- 1Kg of dried beans, a simple compass, a packet of love hearts, a clear glass bottle, a tall white candle, a silver lucky charm bracelet, and a whistle. These have to be worked into stories during his time as Laureate. I look forward to hearing them.
Situated next to the centre for storytelling is The Storytellers Garden. Many amazing tales have been told here, and every event always sells out fast. My favourite events are at Halloween and Christmas, both special times in the garden. In the photo you can see a brazier. Taffy used to love listening to Johnny Morris (of Animal Magic fame) who told tales over a brazier as The Hot Chestnut Man in the 1950’s. He was given permission to recreate this and as part of a Festival I used to help organise called Grasmere Festival of Stars, the Hot Chestnut Man was reborn on 26th November 2005. Taffy commissioned a blacksmith to make the brazier and chestnuts roasted while he told his tales.
Taffy has an amazing coat. Called the storytelling coat it is a unique piece of textile art made by Paddy Killer. Point at something on the coat and Taffy will tell you a tale about it. Taffy is also involved in a monthly storytelling club at The Watermill Ings, where you can listen to stories and enjoy a pint.
So the next time you are in Grasmere, look out for this sign. Who knows, Taffy might be in residence and tell you a story.
Update August 2011.
Taffy is now so busy now that he is Storyteller Laureate that he is travelling all over the Country (and further afield) telling his stories. He is now situated at the end of he building at Church Stile beside his Storytellers Garden. The other part of the building is occupied by the National Trust Information Centre.
So far his year Taffy has been busy taking part in events for the Lake District Summer Music Festival, doing story walks around the village and is due to perform at the world famous Grasmere Sports at the end of August. He will also be doing his famous Halloween stories and Christmas events. If visiting Grasmere, it is always worth giving him a phone on 015394 35641 to see if he will be in the village when you visit.
Caught up with Taffy at the Lakes Alive Event in Kendal and he had brought out his “stop me and tell one” cart for a final run.
Taffy was often a familiar sight on the streets of Grasmere with his bike, so it was a pleasure to see him out and about on it again!