Exeter House School is a vibrant special school in Salisbury, UK, known for its imaginative and creative approach to learning. It has a capacity for 90 pupils aged from 2 to 19 years who have special education needs. It educates children with severe and profound and multiple learning difficulties. A significant number of students have autism spectrum disorders.
Exeter House threw themselves into the world of Poly-Olbion, creating paintings, sculpture, models and a play, The Legend of Salisbury, based on the text:
“Last year we were approached by…Flash of Splendour Arts – a pioneering creative arts organisation – with experience and expertise in working with young people with autism and learning disabilities, who asked us to be involved in a project based on the longest poem ever written in the English Language called Poly Olbion, by Michael Drayton.
It is our belief that high art (or difficult art) should be as accessible and inclusive to our students as it is to academics and so we agreed to be involved.Classes have embraced the topographical poem by looking at maps and landscapes and reading verses and finding out about the stories behind Drayton’s poem.
The performances [of the play, The Legend of Salisbury] are a result of all the hard work our students have done over the term, not simply a performance of a play already written but an artistic effort involving reading, thinking, writing, creating and performing.”
By Avon to reside, her deerest loued Flood:
Where her imperious Fane her former seate disdaines,
And proudly ouer-tops the spacious neighboring Plaines.”
“Old Salisbury seated Northeast from the now famous Salisbury, some mile distant, about Richard Ceur de Lions time had her name and inhabitants, hither translated, vpon the meeting of Auon and Aderborn; where not long after she enioy’d, among other, that glorious title of admiration for her sumptuous Church-buildings.”
John Selden, Illustrations, Song III, Poly-Olbion.