Welcome to the information and download page for ‘Romancing the Gibbet: ‘At the Instigation of the Devil’. This is one of 4 events as part of the Being Human festival, the UK’s only national festival of the humanities, taking place 14–23 November. Led by the School of Advanced Study, University of London, in partnership with the Arts & Humanities Research Council and the British Academy. For further information please see beinghumanfestival.org. You can book the event at St Denys Church/Warminster (16 November 13.30-15.30) HERE


You do not have to try out the app if you don’t want to – if you are simply curious, or want to know more about these historical events or how we made the trails you are very welcome to just book and come along. BOOK HERE.

‘Romancing the Gibbet’ is a collaboration between poet Ralph Hoyte and historian Steve Poole. We explore themes of ‘dark tourism’ using ‘mobile immersive media’. This innovative use of technology allows you to experience Ralph Hoyte’s poetic responses to four notorious Georgian era murders and the subsequent extraordinary public executions ‘on the ground’, where the events actually took place.

To experience this, you download an app to your smartphone or gps-enabled tablet and then follow the audio-trail on foot. The example below shows a few ‘soundpools’ in St Denys churchyard, where Farmer Webb is buried. You follow the blue line (checking your phone every now and then to make sure you’re on track). When your phone encounters ‘a soundpool’ it vibrates. You can then put earphones on and listen to Ralph Hoyte’s poetic response to events as they unfolded.

At the actual St Denys Church ‘Being Human Festival’ event Steve Poole will explain the historical background to this senseless murder from 1812 when the two itinerant farmworkers Carpenter and Ruddock visited Farmer Webb of Oxstalls (on the Longleat estate), ostensibly to ask for work. They then beat Farmer Webb about the head with a flail, shot him in the arm and stomach, cut his maid, Mary’s, throat and slung her down a well (Morning Chronicle 4 Jan 1813).

Ralph Hoyte will then perform extracts from his poetic responses, and we will both introduce the project’s four free audio trails and explain how they were made. You are then invited to sample some of ‘At the Instigation of the Devil’ soundpools which have been relocated in and around the venue for you to try out the experience and the technology.

It is essential to download the app to your phone or gps-enabled tablet beforehand if you wish to do this (instructions on how to do this will be posted on Monday 4 November). Don’t forget your headphones: this is an audio-trail!


Warning: some strong language and themes of murder and public execution