Celebrating The Hurst

Listed on May 19, 2014 in Blogs!

Earlier this month we spent a spring afternoon in the ‘blue remembered hills’ to celebrate the opening of The Hurst, The John Osborne Arvon Centre in Shropshire.

All photographs by Dan Haworth-Salter

The building re-opened this year after many years of planning and nine months of closure. The former home of playwright John Osborne has been completely renovated. For the first time, all course participants and tutors can be housed in one building, in single ensuite bedrooms. The house is fully accessible, with a lift to all floors.

8th May was the date of the first performance of John Osborne’s seminal Don’t Look Back in Anger at the Royal Court Theatre. To mark the anniversary we opened the doors of the renovated two-hundred year old Manor House for guests to explore.


Each room told a story, including an exhibition about the building’s transformation, the journey of a school week, and a word tree for people to share their memories and impressions of The Hurst. The Emergency Poet was also on hand in her Poetry Ambulance to prescribe healing words.


We re-imagined John Osborne’s writing desk, where he wrote Déjà vu, his last stage play.


We heard inspiring words from Nigel Pantling, Chair of Arvon, Alan Davey, Chief Executive of Arts Council England, and Ruth Borthwick, Chief Executive of Arvon.

Azfa Awad, a young writer who came to The Hurst with her school last year read beautiful poetry and talked about her writing journey.


Julie Lawford visited The Hurst in its previous incarnation and was pleasantly surprised by the changes to the building:

“All those shortcomings… have been addressed in a stylish and sympathetic updating of the big house. It’s lovely, without being overdone at all. It still bears all the Arvon hallmarks; a natural, organic style; simple, almost sparse furnishing; an emphasis on community and an atmosphere which respects and honours its heritage. Top marks, Arvon.”

Read the rest of Julie’s blog here.

And it wouldn’t be an Arvon celebration without a cake…


We offer our grateful thanks to Arts Council England and our many other supporters who helped make this dream a reality.

Explore The Hurst further on our centre page here, watch a slideshow about the event here and see more photographs from the day on Facebook.