FROM the Iron Age to the 21st Century, this years Chalke Valley History Festival has it all.

Despite the difficulties of Covid-19 which has reduced the attendance to 4,000 a day, the festival has bounced back with a well-balanced, interesting and enjoyable show.

While most of the tented talks are almost fully booked, there are still seats available on Sunday, the outdoor stages are free and are drawing large audiences in a relaxes al fresco setting.

Wednesday and Thursday has seen a large schools attendance and there were crowds of children sitting spellbound by a variety of talks and demonstrations.

I watched a group of children being drilled by a grizzled Drill Instructor and on the bayonet practice it was the girls who listened to the instructors and the boys ‘knowing it all’, leading to one astonished boy having to do 20 press ups for an infarction of the safety rules.

There are demonstrations and events for all tastes, with woodworking, a working blacksmiths forge and a stone mason demonstrating their craft and the Medieval Herbal Cures was attracting a large audience.

Military re-enactors were there in force, with a 19 Armoured Brigade display of a Brigade HQ in the field with six Armoured Fighting Vehicles deployed will bring back memories to Cold War Warriors and the excellent guides (all ex-Royal Signals) are eloquent.

The Royal Navy Commando stand is well organised with excellent ratings explaining the display and King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery are there to represent the modern Army.

There is a varied selection of catering facilities to cater for almost every taste. Saturdays and Sunday’s programme of outdoor talks is varied with a wide range of subjects from music with Crystal Bliss to Climate Change with Jonathon Porritt.

The Living History displays include Medieval Combat to the Second World War Russian T34 and Sherman Tank, threshing in the Second World War and Tudor Food from the Medieval Kitchen.

The weather forecast is fair, so come along and enjoy a welcome break from lockdown and a step back to normality.

Chalke Valley History Festival runs until tomorrow. Visit:

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