Ian Hislop, Dan Snow and other delights at Chalke Valley

CHALKE Valley History Festival is back in 2022, from 20th to 26th June, with a full programme of talks and events, for what festival director Jane Pleydell-Bouverie describes as “our strongest and most varied yet.”

The full programme has now been announced and tickets are now on sale for the combination of talks, debates, living history, outdoor events, live music and The Duchess of Cornwall’s Reading Room, a prestigious hub for literary communities around the world celebrating literature in all its forms.

A little bit of history will be made on the Monday afternoon as this will be the very first time that the Reading Room channel will be collaborating with a festival. Taking part in the event, Rediscovering Women in History, will be Philippa Gregory, one of the world’s foremost historical novelists, who will be attending the history festival for the first time, and the distinguished historian and author Alison Weir.

Visitors arriving at the site in Broad Chalke will be struck by a stunning Iron Age round house and settlement, built specifically for this year’s festival. using the tools and materials that would have been employed by those in Britain before the Roman invasion.

As well as living history activities, there will be a Speakers’ Corner, vintage fairground, historic fast food outlets and two bars serving drinks throughout the day. The spectacular Restoration Pageant – the return of the monarchy and King Charles II in 1660 – will also feature Restoration-era horse racing over a specially developed race course.

The list of timely and topical talks includes Channel 4’s Matt Frei discussing the situation in Ukraine and reporting from the front line, David Owen on 200 years of British-Russian relations, and General Sir Richard Shirreff talking about War Against Russia.  Bill Browder will tell the true story of Russian money-laundering and state sponsored murder, and Antony Beevor will discuss the Russian Revolution, putting the current situation into historical context. Eminent Russian expert Dominic Lieven will talk about Empire and Autocracy, the key, he believes, to the current crisis.

The Festival for Schools makes a major contribution to history education and brings history alive in new and exciting ways.  On the Monday and Tuesday the programme will cover a wide range of curriculum-based subjects. From the Iron Age, through 1066, the Crusades, the Tudors, the American Civil War, the First World War and the Cold War, the line-up will include lectures, living history displays and interactive demonstrations to bring history alive and inspire both students and teachers.

The History Tellers will be back with more riotous and irreverent historical high jinks; the duo Foreign Field will put on a range of shows, demonstrations and re-enacting dark tales throughout the week; and the Acrochaps, with their impressive moustaches, will entertain with their team of Edwardian jugglers, acrobats and jesters.

Bestselling children’s writer Michelle Paver will be talking about Wolfbane, the grand finale to the prize-winning adventure series, and Francesca Simon, universally known for her popular Horrid Henry series, will deliver an unmissable talk for younger children about the world’s very worst Vikings.

The speakers in the lecture tents include Dan Snow talking about his journey to Antarctica to find the Endurance, Ian Hislop discussing Spike Milligan’s War Against Hitler and the BBC, Lea Ypi explaining what it was like to grow up in communist Albania and a welcome return for the ever-popular Chris Patten and Sebastian Faulks.

The Daily Mail Chalke Valley History Festival takes place at Church Bottom, Broad Chalke, SP5 5DP. The full programme is online at www.cvhf.org.uk

Photographs by Martin Cook and Graham Smith