The Chalke Valley History Festival: A Historical Journey

6 July 2023

From 26 June to 2 July 2023, the picturesque Broad Chalke in Salisbury played host to the UK's largest festival dedicated entirely to history — The Chalke Valley History Festival. Set within 70 acres of outstanding natural beauty, the festival, proudly sponsored by Wilsons, was a vibrant blend of talks, discussions, debates, and interactive living history, creating an immersive experience that excited, entertained, and educated about the past.

The festival featured over 150 talks from renowned experts on subjects spanning ancient to modern day history. Accompanying the intellectual feast were interactive living history programmes led by popular TV historians, showcasing demonstrations from various eras, including cookery, medicine, evolving warfare tactics, and weaponry. There was also live music, food, drink, shopping, and camping — all the elements of a quintessential English summer festival. The speaker line-up this year was truly impressive, featuring big names like Alan Titchmarsh, Ian Hislop, Antonia Fraser, Tracy Borman and Michael Morpurgo.

The festival is not only an educational event but also a charitable one. All proceeds from the festival are directed to the Chalke Valley History Trust, promoting the understanding and enjoyment of history for all ages. One of the highlights of the festival was the History Festival for Schools, where leading historians provided curriculum-based subjects through talks, living history, and interactive demonstrations, bringing history alive for students and teachers from across the country.

Wilsons didn't just sponsor the event; they were an integral part of the festivities. We hosted a branded Big Top Bar, where guests could enjoy beverages served in cups with a unique QR code. By scanning this code, guests were able to enter a competition, adding an extra layer of excitement to the historical exploration. The firm also took clients and guests to various talks and events throughout the festival, ensuring that they were fully immersed in the historical journey. From the engaging debates to the immersive living history displays, every moment was an opportunity to learn, engage, and appreciate the rich tapestry of our past. Partner, Jane Lonergan said about the event: "I saw Ian Hislop – quite hilarious and even more fascinating; Betty Webb – 100 years old and as sharp as she was when cracking codes in Bletchley Park over 80 years ago; Katja Hoyer – amazingly knowledgeable on East Germany during the Cold War and Ben Macintyre on Colditz – completely engrossing!  And that was only one weekend – all the clients I took thoroughly enjoyed it and I could bask in the reflected glory of such brilliant talks."

The Chalke Valley History Festival is an annual celebration of the past that excites, enthrals, and entertains, reflecting on how history influences our future. Save the dates for next year: 24-30 June 2024. We can't wait to see you there!


Photograph by John Rose Photography

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