History comes to life in the Chalke Valley

Salisbury Journal: History comes to life in the Chalke Valley History comes to life in the Chalke Valley

HISTORY is coming alive in the beautiful Chalke Valley next week and there is still a chance to be part of the story.

A handful of tickets are left to see stars including Damian Lewis, Dan Snow and Al Murray.

And some of the most popular historians, whose talks have been sold out for weeks, have agreed to do additional performances so more of their fans can hear their historical reflections.

Charles Glass’ talk about the conflict in Syria has been one of the most popular of the festival and his event was one of the first to sell out.

Now the broadcaster has agreed to give another firsthand account of the political situation and the stories of the people affected by the fighting, on Wednesday, June 25 at 5pm.

History enthusiasts have also been given a second chance to see acclaimed author Max Hastings who also proved to be one of the hottest tickets at this year’s festival.

He has teamed up with Roderick Bailey and Sarah Helm to debate whether Churchill’s Special Operations Executive, which dropped secret agents into Nazi occupied Europe at great cost to life, was worthwhile.

Fans who were unable to get tickets to Hastings’ other talk at the festival are now being invited to attend this event instead.

The Chalke Valley History Festival brings together the brightest minds in history along with academics, MPs, journalists, broadcasters, authors and people who have played their part in history including Spitfire hero Geoffrey Wellum who will be in conversation with festival organiser James Holland on June 29.

Famous faces including Dan Snow and Ian Hislop will be returning to the festival in 2014 and Al Murray and Jeremy Paxman are also sure to be popular.

Award winning writer William Dalrymple will bring the festival to a close on Sunday with his talk about the Siege of Delhi The Last Mughal, which is a late addition to the programme.

And Damian Lewis – who is also talking about Band of Brothers at 10am on Saturday – is joining actress Haydn Gwynne, author Charlie Higson and Al Murray for the judging of the Penguin Chalke Valley History Prize which encouraged children to write their own historical work.

Thousands of schoolchildren will among the first visitors to the festival with a schools’ programmes for years 6, 10 and 12 running from Monday to Wednesday.

Families are expected to flock to the festival again at the weekend for the air shows with fly pasts happening throughout the day, living history displays and jousting battles.

Youngsters are also being invited to sign up to Sword School and archery sessions and they can explore a replica of a First World War trench as well as experiencing many other exciting historical exhibits and displays.

n The Chalke Valley History Festival runs next week from Monday to Sunday at Ebbesbourne Wake near Salisbury.

Tickets can be bought from cvhf.org.uk or 01722 781133.

* THE co-chairman of The Chalke Valley History Festival has promised the traffic jams that hampered last year’s event will not be a problem again this year.

Organisers have employed a traffic management company with hundreds of stewards to direct the traffic and there will be two entrances and exits to the site at Ebbesbourne Wake.

James Heneage, co-chairman of the festival, said: “We are expecting the weather to be fine and with such a big programme, the air shows and living history, we are expecting it will be busy.

“But I do not think the traffic will be a problem as it was last time. We have two entrances – one from the Blandford direction and one from the Shaftesbury direction - and there will be a one way system in place once you get near the site.

“Stewards will be on all the main roads.

“Just as importantly, we would urge people to leave lots and lots of time to reach the site.”

Last year some families missed the Saturday afternoon air show or watched it from their cars as they were unable to reach the festival site.

Mr Heneage said this year the fly pasts would take place throughout the day on Saturday and Sunday to prevent a big surge of visitors all trying to reach the venue at the same time.

Around 30,000 people are expected to visit the history festival next weekend and Mr Heneage says although this year’s event is even bigger, local people should not be put off by the traffic problems of last year.

“Many festivals, including Larmer Tree, are only reached by country roads and the Hay on Wye festival, which is the largest literary festival in the world, is in the middle of nowhere and they continue to prove very popular,” he said.

“I have every confidence we can make it work.”

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