St Sidwell's Community Centre

Sidwella Rewritten Competion 2023

In 2023, as part of an ongoing community Heritage project, St Sidwell’s launched a competition to rewrite the story of Sidwella, patron saint of Exeter. We thought we could have a more empowering and inspiring story for Sidwella, Sidwell Street and Exeter so we invited people to reimagine it. We received many brilliant entries, some of which will be on display around the centre soon for all to read. Below is our fantastic winning entry and runner up!

I am the golden woman of the corn. Some call me a fairy woman because I am a spirit who never
dies. Every year I lift up my white face in the Spring and the sun burnishes me, I grow darker and
more golden. I grow riper and more nourishing.
Once, long ago, everyone loved me. At harvest time, when the corn was cut, people in Devon told
stories about me.
One day I let a little boy see me, walking through the fields at the end of a long day’s work. I knew
that my hair and dress were golden and gleaming in the evening sunshine. He stopped and just
stared, his eyes, wide almost frightened. Then I saw his whole life flash before me. I saw that he
would have difficulties to face.
I walked up close to him, “Listen”, I said,” Tomorrow the last of the corn will be cut and when the
last sheaf goes, my head will be cut from my neck. I don’t like it, but that’s life, people get hungry
and they need food. I will go down to the underworld, the fairy realm, where the great mother of
the darkness will hold me softly in her belly. But just you wait until the Spring, I will come back
then – you see if I don’t! When you are cut down, when you find yourself in the belly of the mother
of the darkness, remember me.
The next day I was cut. I cried and the boy cried. The tears became a fresh spring of water
bubbling from the Earth. We both knew I would ride back from the fairy realm, gush and rush in on
a tide of water in the Spring. New seeds, new beginnings watered by tears and golden sun.

Clare Viner, 2023

2023 Exonia

Sydwinda woke up to a glorious morning. The trouble was it was too hot, 40 degrees in fact.  She was sweating and not happy. The council had refused another wind farm proposal all around Exonia. He college friends in the uni crowd were 100 % percent behind her, plus lots of locals. Her environmental studies were clear and easy to interpret. Bring down the HEAT! What could be simpler than turbines all along the Green Circle!

Protesting and hassling in council meetings proved fruitless. Today was action day. She would climb the North tower of the Cathedral and paraglide all around the circle show how much WIND there was.

 Word soon spread across Devon causing a great surge of euphoria. People en-masse gathered across the city to support Sydwinda.  As she prepared for lift off, she spoke quietly to Exonia’s patron saint after whom she was named. ‘Sidwella’ protect me in my hour of need. And she did. The wind came from nowhere and guided and pushed Sydwinda all around the circle.

“Thank you Sidwella for helping to save our planet” thought Sydwinda as she landed in Princesshay to a to rapturous applause including all the councillors.

Dahlia Ley, 2023

We’d like to say thanks to all our participants for their entries and watch this space for more Heritage related events in November!

Made possible by, thanks to National Lottery Players.