THE RAISING OF THE GHOST SHIP “LADY LOVIBOND”

Schools and arts award

The Goodwin Sands is a graveyard for ships that have sunk in its foreboding waters. It is said that 50,000 people have lost their lives on the sandbank. This stretch of water is the home of one gruesome manifestation, the phantom ghost ship of the Lady Lovibond. Legend has it that the vessel was bound for Oporto, Portugal, with a cargo of flour, meat, wine and gold. The Captain, Simon Peel, was celebrating on his honeymoon with his new wife, when Rivers the ship’s mate deliberately ran the ship aground in a jealous rage. All hands were lost to the dark sea. The Lady Lovibond is said to appear every 50 years as a ghost ship.

During the early evening of 29 March 2014, children and parents from six schools across Dover District, gathered on the harbour beach, outside Dover Rowing Club’s boat house, to take part in an interactive street theatre event, to search for, and rescue, the ghost ship, by calling to the Captain and his bride to entice them back to land.

The recital of the Lady Lovibond poem was performed by Astor College student Sebastian Fairley, whilst magic spells, written by the children in earlier workshops and folded into paper boats attached to helium balloons, were released out to sea; the chant to raise the shipwreck was joined in with by a chorus children and the audience.

Out in the harbour, Dover Rowing Club enacted the raising and rescue of Lady Lovibond, whilst Barry O’Brien from Dover Tales recited his story ‘Dover Sharks’.

Once on shore, the ghoulish bride and groom walked up the beach, followed by excited children holding lanterns, and accompanied by haunting violin music, written and performed by Rebecca Aimi. This led into an eerily beautiful song and dance by the Astor students before the lantern procession began.

Led by the colourful Big Fish Street Band from the Isle of Sheppey, the celebratory procession walked along the promenade to the Swimmers Statues, where a wedding car was waiting to chauffeur the ghostly just-married-couple. They sped off on their honeymoon, leaving the band to play on and the party to continue.

PARTICIPATING SCHOOLS

  • St Mary’s CEP
  • Sandown CPS
  • Portal House
  • Cartwright & Kelsey CPS
  • St Richards RCPS
  • Astor College, A Federation for the Arts

Performers:

  • Landmark Show Choir and Maddie’s Melody Makers
  • Year-3 Pupils from St Mary’s CEP recited a poem commissioned for the Nautical Threads project
  • Barry O’Brien: read the story of Lady Lovibond
  • Speeches by: Clare Smith (Dover Arts Development), Petra Matthews-Crow ( Art teacher at Astor),
  • Chant: Sebastian Fairley (Astor Student)
  • Bride: Finely Guy
  • Groom: Owen Dawson
  • Dover Rowing Club Captain: Tony Burrows (also oversaw making of Lady Lovibond boat) and DRC participants
  • Procession led off by Big Fish Street Band from Isle of Sheppey
  • Ghost ship lantern made by Big Fish Arts Trust
  • Sound and PA system: Nick Charlesworth
  • Expert advice on the lanterns: Simon Everett
  • Volunteer marshals from Dover: school teachers, local residents, the Dover greeters and marshals from the Sheppey EMU’s (Event Marshalling Unit).

The lantern Event, on Dover seafront on 29 March, was part of the Nautical Threads Project, a partnership between Dover Arts Development and Astor College, A Federation for the Arts. The evening’s programme was devised and conceived by Kati Saqui and Loren Beven from Deal-based arts organisation Underground Pearl and Petra Matthews Crow. The participating groups and organisations included Dover Rowing Club, Astor College, Dover Tales, DAD, Big Fish Arts Trust, Landmark Show Choir and Maddie’s Melody Makers and the local community! Nautical Threads is part of the cultural strand of Kent County Council’s Inspire programme.

With thanks to the Port of Dover for permission to use their land and Dover District Council Events for their advice and support, and to our funders:

Kent County Council leads and manages the Kent Schools’ Education Olympic Legacy Programme, ‘INSPIRE’. Funding for this particular work has come from Kent Schools’ Funding Forum and Arts Council England through the Southeast Bridge, Artswork.

Photos by Kati Saqui and Louisa Love