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Chalke Valley History Festival

Chalke Valley History Festival


Part lit fest, part reimagined school room, open air theatre, restaurant and full blown fancy dress party – the Daily Mail Chalke Valley History Festival (CVHF)opens it doors again at the end of the month (22-28 June).

Set amidst spectacularly pretty chalk downs in Ebbesbourne Wake, Wiltshire, CVHF is the biggest history festival of its kind, bringing together celebrated historians and writers who talk throughout the week, alongside an encampment of living history through the ages and culminating with a warbird air show.

There’s a feeling of Hay-on-Wye except that you’re in the most beautiful location with an accompanying soundtrack of 16th century gunfire and plenty of be-bodiced women and top hatted men waltzing by. As festivals go this one is completely unique.

This year you’ll find Ian Hislop talking about the history of Private Eye, Jon Snow interviewing the famed and 100 year old QC Jeremy Hutchinson, Kate Mosse taking a masterclass in historical writing , theatre director Richard Eyre talking on people and politics in the arts.

As always the programme is hugely varied and some of the lesser known speakers are well worth checking out. We’re looking forward to hearing Anita Anand talking about Sophia Duleep Singh, a dispossessed Indian princess and society darling turned revolutionary and the historian Amanda Foreman who looks at women of influence through the ages from Empress Wu Zeitan to Margaret Thatcher

On Saturday night there’s a 1940s themed fancy dress Victory party to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the end of the second world war. Hosted by John Sessions, there’s music from the London Swing Orchestra and the Bombshell Belles and ‘ration boxes’ from local chef Victoria Bashford-Snell.

CVHF is aimed equally at adults and children, the original concept begin to repopularise history for the next generation. At the weekend there is masses to keep them interested including a sword school, Horrible Histories, an immersive First World War trench experience and plenty of re-enacted battles. Historian Christopher Lloyd has a giant 8 metre long timeline to bring to life the Magna Carta (children aged 6 upwards).
On Sunday the closing air show will see spitfires, a Hurricane, Catalina and P-51 Mustang amongst others will fly over the site. 

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