Chalke Valley History Festival
The Chalke Valley History Festival came into being in 2011. The festival, now the largest in Britain dedicated entirely to history, started out as just 12 events in the Chalke Valley near Salisbury. Highlights included talks from Peter Snow, Professor Gary Sheffield, Michael Wood, Patrick Bishop, Michelle Paver, John Julius Norwich, Col Tim Collins and Juliet Gardiner.
For 2012, the festival grew much bigger. Three venues (the William Golding Tent, the John Aubrey Tent and the Eden Arena) will house more than 50 events. The goal was to put ‘history’ back on the map. Influential and popular academics, writers and broadcasters such as Jeremy Paxman, Michael Morpurgo, Ian Kershaw, Amanda Vickery, Ian and Victoria Hislop, Sir Max Hastings, Antony Beevor, Tom Holland, Dan Snow, Simon Jenkins, and Michael Wood gave interesting insights into historical events and emphasising the importance that history plays in shaping our future.
There was a new living history arena for longbow demonstrations, French firepower displays, WW2 firing demonstrations, cavalry displays and more. The visual aspects enhanced the whole experience and lift history from the pages of books; putting the sights and sounds before your own eyes.
Also new for 2012 was the formation of both the Chalke Valley History Trust and the Chalke Valley History Prize. The Trust promotes history and the need to understand the past to those coming through the educational system, and the history prize is designed for young authors to show their historical writing skills. Michael Morpurgo led the judges in deciding an overall winner.
This year’s programme, even bigger than 2012, will include not only the top historians in the country, but also an expanded Living History element, the inaugural Daily Mail Chalke Valley History Festival Air Show, the return of the Daily Mail Chalke Valley History Prize, and a brand new Schools Festival.
Speakers this year include Boris Johnson, Sebastian Faulks, Joanna Lumley, Neil Oliver, Dan Snow, James Holland, Ian Hislop, Don McCullin, Michael Wood and Paddy Ashdown.
For the first time this year, the Festival will be playing host to the Daily Mail Chalke Valley History Festival Air Show. Taking part in the event on the Saturday afternoon, set against the magnificent back-drop of the Chalke Valley hills, will be historic aircraft such as Spitfires, Hurricanes, Mustangs, and Messerschmitts, with displays by The Old Flying Machine Company and The Great War Display Team. The Festival is also delighted to be welcoming flying legend Captain Eric ‘Winkle’ Brown, the former Royal Navy officer and test pilot who has flown more types of aircraft than anyone else in history, who will be giving a talk directly after the air show.
The Daily Mail Chalke Valley History Festival prides itself on not only having a wide array of historical periods on show, but also drawing upon the very best re-enactors and historical interpreters in the country, who all believe passionately in educating and bringing history and the past to life. The Living History programme this year will be bigger and better, and will include encampments representing various different periods of history. Back by popular demand will be Sword School and Have-a-Go-Archery, as well as a new immersive First World War Trench experience. There will be firing demonstrations, drills and skirmishes in the new Battle Arena throughout the weekend, and a re-enactment of the Battle of Vitoria on Sunday 30th which promises to be an incredible spectacle.
Co-Chair James Holland said: “The aim of the Festival is to inspire and excite people about our incredibly rich and varied history. It’s wonderful to be able to have some of the most brilliant historians in the land coming to the Festival, but it’s also going to be thrilling to see some of the most iconic aircraft that have ever flown performing here too. The mixture of lectures, black powder and Merlin engines makes this Festival unique. I can’t wait.”
Following its huge success in 2012, the Daily Mail Chalke Valley History Prize is back for its second year – this time in partnership with Penguin Books. A national historical writing competition for teenagers, the prize aims to help young authors develop not only important writing skills but also a love and passion for history. The Festival is thrilled to announce a new judging panel for 2013 which includes bestselling author Sebastian Faulks; one of our best-loved actresses, Joanna Lumley; comedian and author, Charlie Higson; historian and author, James Holland; literary agent, Mark Lucas; editor at Penguin UK, Alex Clarke; and senior teacher, James Petrie.
On the Monday and Tuesday of this year’s Festival, we will also see the launch of the Schools Festival for the first time. Aimed at Year 10 and Year 12 students, and taking part over two days, it will include a wide range of curriculum-based subjects delivered by eminent historians including Tom Holland, Laurence Rees, and Professor Michael Burleigh. From 1066, through the Tudors and the First World War, and the rise of the Nazis to the Second World War, the programme will offer a series of lectures, seminars, living history and inter-active demonstrations, bringing history to life.
Elsewhere there will be book signings arranged by Festival partner Waterstones, writing seminars, talks given by the team behind the recent discovery of the bones of Richard III, a brand new history quiz show, and a performance by Horrible Histories of ‘Barmy Britain’, the first time a London West End Show has ever been performed in a field in the middle of Wiltshire!
All Festival profits go towards the Chalke Valley History Trust Trust which was established to promote the understanding and importance of history to all ages and, in particular, to school children.
2013 dates: 24th – 30th June
To find out more, visit www.cvhf.org.uk