Chalke Valley ready to roll


28 April 2023
The full programme for the Chalke Valley History Festival has been announced and tickets are now on sale for the show.
Chalke Valley ready to roll Images

The end of June signals the start of one of the most popular fixtures in the summer festival calendar with the Chalke Valley History Festival. The festival will give you the chance to go back in time and experience the sights, sounds, and smells of the past, while enjoying over 200 talks, live performances, and interactive experiences. With a massive line-up, you can expect to hear from the most exciting, inspiring, and fascinating historians and performers around.
History buffs and casual festival-goers alike will have the opportunity to experience everything from thrilling jousts and medieval encampments to immersive World War II trench experiences and discussions on current political affairs.
The key themes for this year are:

  • ENVIRONMENT - From farming and food production to climate change and the shifting sands of time.
  • CONFLICT - Warfare throughout the ages from ancient times to Ukraine.
  • POLITICS - Whether in Ancient Rome or more recent times, the rise and fall of dictators, prime ministers and presidents have shaped and defined our lives.
  • SCIENCE & EXPLORATION - From inventions to the crossing of oceans and deserts.
  • SOCIETY & CULTURE - Everyday life through the ages: food, art, literature, music and how the fabric of society evolves.
  • SPORT - It is a large part of our lives. Here the show explores the rich human drama in the evolution of some of our favourite pastimes.

Want to learn about the current War in Ukraine and Putin's Russia? Interested in busting myths about Charles I's wife Henrietta Maria? Curious about the dramatic story of women of the American West? Or if you want to reminisce about Ashes series gone by, there is former England cricket captain Mike Brearley. Or if you want to find out more about the Abbey Road studios with David Hepworth, or hear the astonishing inside story of Colditz with Ben Macintyre, then The Chalke Valley History Festival is the place to be this summer.
Parents can hear from TV presenter and distinguished gardener, Alan Titchmarsh, while their kids are put through their paces at the SOE Training Camp, learning about unarmed combat, weapon handling, and code work.
War buffs will love the special mornings devoted to The Cold War and World War II. These two events will include live firing of a 3.7in anti-aircraft gun, and a discussion about Britain and the nuclear threat, as well as a welcome return to the festival by 102-year-old veteran Mosquito bomber pilot Colin Bell. Or maybe you’d prefer some light-hearted WWII chatter with James Holland and Al Murray as they record an edition of their We Have Ways of Making You Talk podcast.
There is a new Trench experience, where school children and adults alike can step back in time and experience the sights, sounds, and smells of World War II through the Oosterbeek Perimeter, where the British 1st Airborne valiantly held out with diminishing supplies during the Battle for Arnhem in September 1944.
During the festival weekend, visitors can expect to see the Medieval encampment, complete with a full joust and other activities and demonstrations. Watch skilled knights battle it out on horseback and learn about the history and culture of the Middle Ages. Meanwhile, festival favourites will be sharing stories and historical facts and figures from across the centuries, including Max Hastings' graphic new history of the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, and Michael Wood revealing the true story of The Trojan War.
For those who want to soak up the atmosphere and sample a few local refreshments from the Chalke Valley Tap, then there may be a few unexpected visitors in the bar area. Dressing up is encouraged, but is not obligatory.
As Festival Director Jane Pleydell-Bouverie says, "This festival has something for everyone, from the most serious historian to the casual observer who just wants to soak up the atmosphere and have a good time."
As if all that weren't enough, there will be live music throughout the festival, with each day focusing on a different era of 20th Century popular music. The line-up includes The Bluebirds, a stunning close-harmony trio passionate about keeping the vintage sound of the wartime years alive, Old Baby Mackerel who will recreate the music of the early 20th Century, and The Soul Strutters who will delight the crowds with their love of groove, disco, funk, soul and R&B from the '70s.
Festival-goers can expect to rub elbows with some of the most fascinating and accomplished historians and performers around. The line-up this year is truly impressive, featuring big names like Michael Morpurgo, Antonia Fraser, Ian Hislop, Antony Beevor, Tracy Borman, John Major and Charlie Higson.
It's a unique opportunity to experience history like never before. The show runs from 26 June to 2 July. Get your tickets at
The Chalke Valley History Festival will take place at Church Bottom,
Broad Chalke, Salisbury, Wiltshire, SP5 5DP.



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