Storytelling commission

Storytelling commission

Eels, Eagles and Unicorns: Hidden Nature in Exeter Custom House

A series of commissioned short films by storyteller Katy Cawkwell direct from Exeter Custom House. The stories were created for Quay Words as part of Heritage Open Days 2020, with music from Rebecca Willson and filming by Quack Productions.

The stories are inspired by the nature and creatures hidden inside the Custom House – the eels in John Abbott’s ornate plaster ceiling, the unicorn in the heraldic shield in the main room and the eagles lurking within one of the stamps used to mark the bales of wool. Some of the stories have travelled a long way to be here, just like the goods that used to flow up and down the river Exe, passing through the Custom House on their journey. 

Part 1: Eel

Katy spins the natural history and folklore of the eel into a performance piece, inspired by the eels wriggling across the plaster ceiling of the Custom House. Suitable for all ages.

Part 2: Eagle

Katy tells the Zuni legend of a Boy and his Eagle, inspired by the eagle carved into the tillet block on display in the Exeter Custom House.

Part 3 Unicorn

Grimm’s Brave Little Tailor meets the Lady and the Unicorn. Katy mixes folktale with mythology in a joyful tale that celebrates those who dare venture into the forest. Inspired by the unicorn in the heraldic shield on the wall of Exeter Custom House. Suitable for all ages.