This year’s Chalke Valley History began with a packed audience listening to former Prime Minister Sir John Major talking about his life in politics.

In a conversation with historian and journalist Tim Bouverie, Sir John gave details of his friendship with Boris Yeltsin, the relationship with his predecessor, Margaret Thatcher and was trenchant in his belief that we should have remained in the EU.

The talk received a huge round of applause and was a fitting start to a packed schedule of themed talks covering the topics of Environment, Conflict, Politics, Science and Exploration, Society and Culture and Sport.

The week began with organised parties of some 3,000 school children visiting the Festival and enjoying a wide variety of talks and living history presentations. One of the favourites was the World War Two trench experience, complete with recorded battle sounds and blanks firing.

During the week, subjects range from Life lessons from the early Greeks, A Whistle-Stop Tour of the History of Feminism, The History and future of the United Kingdom. Al Murray returns with his ‘We have ways of Making you talk’ and Anthony Beaver and Chris Bellamy discuss Stalingrad.

Peter Caddick-Adams, who will be chairing a discussion on The War in Ukraine on Wednesday evening, commented that ‘it was very much a talk in the making’.

Local speakers include Salisbury Museum curator Adrian Green taking about the Father of Modern Archaeology, General Pitt-Rivers, NFU leader Minette Batters on ‘Is Farming Doomed’ and Hamish de Bretton-Gordon on The Future of Conflict and Patrick Cordingly about the Srebrenica trial.

The Living History displays range from the Iron Age to the Cold War and there is an encampment showcasing heritage crafts. At the weekend there will be many live re-enactments including a Medieval joust.

New contributors include the Portland Museum, Royal Hospital Chelsea, the Imperial War Museum and The Royal Gurkha Rifles.

This year sees a big increase of the number of picnic tables available to relax and eat from the many food stalls and there are two bar areas.

The new ticketing arrangements will make it easier for visitors to come and enjoy what looks like an excellent and exciting festival this year.