Press Release

15 September 2014

A collaborative project between the National Trust and the International Centre for Victorian Women Writers (ICVWW) at Canterbury Christ Church University has received an ?8,900 Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) Sharing Heritage grant.

HLF’s Sharing Heritage programme helps people across the UK explore, conserve and share all aspects of the history and character of their local area.

The project, Letterpress re-imagined: Printing at Sissinghurst, will help to preserve and promote the literary and craft heritage associated with the Kentish Castle’s famous historic owner: Vita Sackville-West.

Writer and friend of Virginia Woolf, Vita found fame in the early 20th century not only for her writing and literary connections to the famous Bloomsbury group, but also for designing the famous gardens at Sissinghurst Castle.

Through a series of workshops led by letterpress experts from the University, Vicki Adams and Anna Fewster, the project will train National Trust volunteers to produce 100 copies of Vita’s poem ‘Sissinghurst’, using a replica of the Hogarth letterpress. The original Hogarth press that was used by Virginia Woolf is held at the castle and has recently been restored to enable it to be displayed. A first edition of the poem printed on the Hogarth press is also held at the property but is too fragile to be made available to visitors.

The new limited edition prints will bring the poem back into the public domain, while protecting the original copy and letterpress for future generations.

Dr Carolyn Oulton, Director of the International Centre for Victorian Women Writers, said: “Letterpress printing has largely disappeared since the industry was closed in the 1980s, and subsequent rise of digital media. Surviving presses are often in poor repair and missing vital components, while a diminishing number of owners have the skills to operate them.

“Now under-read, Vita Sackville-West was one of the most prolific of the 'Bloomsbury group', publishing most of her work with Woolf's Hogarth Press. The project will raise awareness of her importance as a writer and enable wider access to a poem, that remains out of print, and which focuses on her own response to the historic significance of Sissinghurst.

“Training National Trust volunteers in letterpress techniques will enable them to tell visitors about the function and importance of the original Hogarth letterpress displayed at Sissinghurst, and its part in developing and promoting the famous Bloomsbury group, as well as increasing awareness of the important letterpress library collections owned by the National Trust.”

Stuart McLeod, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund South East England, said: “We’re delighted to be able to offer this grant so that Letterpress-reimagined: Printing at Sissinghurst can delve into the history of the industry that brought the words of many literary greats into the public eye, including those of Vita Sackville-West. The project also offers a unique opportunity to highlight the significance of the letter press and allow a number of volunteers to learn the declining skill.”

The project will culminate in a public symposium and exhibition during the National Trust’s Autumn Book Month in October. The original Hogarth letterpress will be included in the exhibition.

A project blog written by the volunteers to record their experiences and share the history of workers in the print industry can now be found at:

For more information on the International Centre for Victorian Women Writers (ICVWW) at Canterbury Christ Church University visit: .

Notes to Editor

  • Sharing Heritage

Sharing Heritage is for any not-for-profit group wanting to explore their community’s heritage. With a commitment from HLF of £3m each year, Sharing Heritage grants between £3,000 and £10,000 are now available to groups who want to discover their local heritage. Projects can cover a wide spectrum of subject matter from exploring local archaeology and a community’s cultures and traditions to identifying and recording local wildlife and protecting the surrounding environment to managing and training volunteers, and holding festivals and events to commemorate the past.

  • Heritage Lottery Fund

Using money raised through the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) aims to make a lasting difference for heritage, people and communities across the UK and help build a resilient heritage economy. From museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions, we invest in every part of our diverse heritage. HLF has supported over 36,000 projects with more than £6bn across the UK.

Canterbury Christ Church University

Canterbury Christ Church University is a modern university with a particular strength in higher education for the public services.

With nearly 20,000 students across Kent and Medway, its courses span a wide range of academic and professional subject areas.

  • 93% of our most recent UK graduates were in employment or further studies six months after completing their studies*.
  • We are the number one choice for local people looking to study at university in Kent (2013 UCAS).
  • We are one of the South East’s largest providers of education, training and skills leading to public service careers.

*2012/13 Destination of Leavers from Higher Education survey



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Last edited: 14/12/2018 22:16:00