THE second annual Chalke Valley History Festival is set to be bigger and better than before, with a line up of top writers, historians and broadcasters.

Last year’s festival saw 12 events and attracted thousands of people, but this year the programme is five times the size.

The festival was set up by historians James Holland and James Heneage, the founder of bookshop chain Ottakar’s.

The original aim was to raise funds for a new cricket pavilion at Bowerchalke but the co-chairs were so overwhelmed by the success of last year’s festival that they decided to expand and create a lasting legacy.

This year there are over 50 events being held in two tents across four evenings and a weekend from June 26 to July 1.

Staged at the new venue, a 22-acre site just outside Ebbesbourne Wake, the festival will also have two new official partners, the Daily Mail and Waterstones.

And the 2012 list of speakers includes Max Hastings, Antony Beevor, Ian Kershaw, Jeremy Paxman, Michael Morpurgo, Ian and Victoria Hislop and many more.

One of the aims of the festival is to raise the profile of history in schools.

And the proceeds of this year’s festival will go to the newly-formed Chalke Valley History Trust, set up by the festival’s organisers to promote history and understanding of the past.

The festival also has the backing of the secretary of state for education Michael Gove, who will not only be attending the festival as a speaker but will also be a judge of the Chalke Valley History Prize, which was launched in London in March.

Also judging the national historical writing competition for teenagers will be bestselling author of War Horse and former children’s laureate, Michael Morpurgo.

As well as literary talks covering both fact and fiction, there will be living history interpretations, activities for children, a book store, stalls, a bar and a food hall, with food provided by Salisbury-based Bread & Flowers.

One of the events, Horatio Nelson – His Life and Times, is being held in memory of 17-year-old Horatio Chapple from Bishopstone.

Horatio, who was named after Horatio Nelson, was killed by a polar bear while on a trip in Norway last August.

All proceeds from this talk will go towards Horatio’s Garden – a rehabilitation garden at the Duke of Cornwall Spinal Treatment Centre at Salisbury District Hospital, where the youngster was a volunteer.

To find out more about the festival, trust or competition, and to buy tickets, visit