After a slightly shortened version in 2021, this year it’s back to seven days, packed full of historical entertainment, inspiring discussions, fun for all the family and featuring the very best historians in the land. Also back for 2022 is the Chalke Valley History Festival for Schools, which runs for two days and offers a curriculum-based programme of events designed to encourage pupils to learn about history through a series of immersive activities and engaging talks.
Taking place at its stunning venue in Broad Chalke, near Salisbury, this year’s festival builds on some of the hugely popular open-air events introduced last summer. Visitors can listen to world-class speakers, and watch eye-catching demonstrations given by knowledgeable living historians, whilst sitting on the surrounding hills savouring delicious historic fast food. Household names like acclaimed travel writer Colin Thubron will take to the stage in one of the big speaker tents, whilst children experience the thrill of driving the 1930s dodgems or riding on the big wheel at the vintage fairground.
A new Speaker’s Corner tent, where visitors of all ages can listen to shorter but highly informative talks in a more informal atmosphere, is being introduced for the first time this festival. Much-loved BBC broadcaster Justin Webb and former Home Secretary Alan Johnson will be discussing their experience of growing up in the 1960s and 1970s, while festival favourite David Owen will return to give a topical talk about two hundred years of British-Russian relations. There are more living activities than ever before, highlights including a spectacular Restoration Pageant on both the Saturday and Sunday, traditional crafts, farming and the role of women during the Second World War.
There’s a live music programme every day. Revellers will be transported back to the 1920s with Trip For Biscuits, and other bands, in the bar area right at the heart of the festival where festival goers, and living historians in full costume, can relax together at the end of each day whilst watching the mid-summer sun go down against the historic backdrop of the stunning ancient Chalke Valley downland.
Alex Compiniani is serving up some delicious Pompei street food during this year’s festival and Restoration Horse Racing will be one of the colourful new additions to the living history programme. Dan Snow’s ‘History Hit’ returns with a podcast and re-enactment each day for all the family, and a fascinating event with wartime RAF Mosquito veterans is bound to be one of the highlights of the programme this time. For those wishing to sleep under the stars, there’s camping and glamping facilities available, with a stunning view to wake up to over the festival site.
Festival Chair, James Holland, said: “Our talks and discussions have traditionally been the backbone of the festival and, once again, we have among the very best historians around coming to speak. But more than ever we are offering a much wider programme that includes lots of live music, a reconstructed Iron Age round-house, vintage funfair and some truly stunning and original living history displays, from Restoration-era horse racing to a forensic reconstruction of how Richard III lost his life at Bosworth. There will be so much on offer for children and families visiting together and I really do think this is our very best programme ever.”
The amazing line-up of speakers includes Helena Merriman sharing the incredible story of Tunnel 29, a true story of an extraordinary escape beneath the Berlin Wall in 1962, the bestselling historian Andrew Roberts presenting his most recent book about George III, the BBC World Service’s Lipika Pelham discussing an alternative history of identity from the Middle Ages to the present day, Simon Jenkins on Europe’s 100 best cathedrals, and Sarah Churchwell talking about the history and legacy of the epic novel Gone with the Wind.
80 fascinating talks, given by incredible historians and entitled #ChalkeTalk, can now be heard on the Chalke Valley History Festival podcast. These talks have been taken from over ten years of festival appearances.
More information about the festival can be found at cvhf.org.uk