WWI men the focus of castle concerts

Richmond Castle will host the Refrain choral concerts next month.
Richmond Castle will host the Refrain choral concerts next month.

An attraction in the North Yorkshire area is set to be the venue for a series of special concerts next month.

Richmond Castle will host a set of immersive choral performances exploring the stories of conscientious objection in the First World War.

Visitors will have the opportunity to experience the castle as never before thanks to the work, called Refrain, by composer and artist Verity Standen.

Verity Standen is an award-winning artist, composer and choir leader, whose unique work with voices has ‘surprised and enchanted’ audiences around the UK and internationally.

Around 100 years ago 16 conscientious objectors were detained in the 19th Century cell block of Richmond Castle, leaving their poignant and personal testimonies in drawings on the cell walls.

From there they were transported, along with others, from Landguard Fort in Harwich and Seaford, East Sussex, to Northern France to be court-martialled and subsequently sentenced to death.

Their sentences were commuted to 10 years hard labour and the Richmond Sixteen were incarcerated in prisons for their refusal to fight.

Kevin Booth, English Heritage’s senior curator for the North, said: “English Heritage is delighted to be collaborating with Verity Standen at Richmond Castle.

“We’re working hard to conserve the fragile graffiti left at the castle by the Richmond Sixteen, but we also want to involve local people in their remarkable story and this project is part of that.”

Verity Standen said: “I am thrilled to be working with such a diverse range of voices – men drawn from all walks of life. I try to leave room for the performers to make the music their own.”

The concerts take place on 7-9 April (Friday concert starts at 7.30pm, Saturday and Sunday 6pm). Visit refrain.online to buy tickets (adults £12, children/concessions £8).