The Daily Mail Chalke Valley History Festival - 20th-26th June 2022

The Daily Mail Chalke Valley History Festival makes a welcome return this June, with a rich and varied programme of fascinating talks and panel discussions given by leading thinkers and speakers, and the very best historians in the land. Running concurrently will be a dynamic line-up of living history displays, historical performances and interactive experiences. All the events will take place in large covered tents, on the popular outdoor stages and around the festival site. Taking place in Broad Chalke, in the heart of the beautiful Wiltshire countryside, the history festival is back to a full 7 days and will be one of the highlights of the summer festival calendar. The full programme has been announced and tickets are now for sale online at

The festival will open this year with The Duchess of Cornwall's Reading Room, a prestigious hub for literary communities around the world which celebrates literature in all its forms. A little bit of history will be made on the Monday afternoon as this will be the very first time that the Reading Room channel will be collaborating with a festival. Taking part will be Philippa Gregory, one of the world’s foremost historical novelists and who will be attending the history festival for the first time, and the distinguished historian and author Alison Weir. Entitled ‘Rediscovering Women in History’, this will be a fascinating discussion between two best-selling writers and recognised authorities on the subject.

Upon arriving at the festival, visitors will be immediately struck by a stunning Iron Age round house and settlement, built specifically for this year’s festival and using the very tools and materials that would have been employed by those in Britain before the Roman invasion. Furthermore, living history spanning two millennia will be fully integrated throughout the site, along with a Speakers’ Corner, a Vintage Fairground, historic fast food outlets offering a mouth-watering range of treats, and two bars serving drinks throughout the day. The weekend’s spectacular Restoration Pageant - the return of the monarchy and King Charles II in 1660 - will also feature Restoration-era horse racing over a specially developed race course.

A list of timely and topical talks is spearheaded by Channel 4’s Matt Frei discussing the situation in Ukraine and reporting from the front line. David Owen will discuss 200 years of British-Russian relations, and General Sir Richard Shirreff will talk about War Against Russia. Bill Browder returns to the festival, telling the true story of Russian money-laundering and state sponsored murder, as does Antony Beevor, this time discussing the Russian Revolution and putting the current situation into historical context. Eminent Russian expert Dominic Lieven will talk about Empire and Autocracy, the key, he believes, to the current crisis.

Image by Graham Smith

With nearly 13,000 children having attended since launch, the Festival for Schools makes a major contribution to history education and brings history alive in new and exciting ways. On the Monday and Tuesday of the festival the programme will cover a wide range of curriculum-based subjects delivered by leading historians. From the Iron Age, through 1066, the Tudors, the First World War, and the Cold War, the line-up will include a series of lectures, living history displays and interactive demonstrations to bring history alive and inspire both students and teachers. Among the key speakers the students will have the opportunity to hear from are: Peter Caddick-Adams on The First World War and The Peace Settlement, Sufiya Ahmed on Princess Sophia and The Suffragettes, Iain MacGregor on The American Civil War and Dan Jones on The Crusades.

There will be much on offer for children and families visiting together, including a series of highly entertaining historical performances: The History Tellers, will be back with more riotous and irreverent historical high jinks; the duo called Foreign Field will also be putting on a range of shows, demonstrations and re-enacting dark tales throughout the week; and the Acrochaps, with their impressive moustaches, will be on hand to entertain with their team of Edwardian jugglers, acrobats and jesters. Bestselling children’s writer Michelle Paver will be talking about Wolfbane, the grand finale to the prize-winning adventure series, and Francesca Simon, universally known for her popular Horrid Henry series, will deliver an unmissable talk for younger children about world’s very worst Vikings.

Festival Director Jane Pleydell-Bouverie said: “Our 2022 programme is looking like our strongest and most varied yet. We have some really fabulous talks lined up, including Dan Snow talking about his epic journey to Antarctica to find the Endurance, Ian Hislop discussing Spike Milligan’s War Against Hitler and the BBC, and Lea Ypi explaining what it was like to grow up in communist Albania. And we are also thrilled that both Chris Patten and Sebastian Faulks, always popular with the crowds, will be returning. We could not do this, however, without the generous backing of our sponsors and donors as well as the tireless support of our many volunteers. Putting together a festival like this is a big team effort, and we are immensely grateful to everyone involved.”

The Trench returns this year, back by popular demand. This time the scene is Cassel, in late May 1940, and it will feature the heroic defence by a small detachment of British infantry who were desperately trying to stem the German advance. Visitors will be able to experience first-hand the conditions of the time and feel what it was like to be there fighting for one’s life.

Image Martin Cook

The extended music line-up features seven different acts playing at the bar throughout the week. Festival goers will be able to take a trip down memory lane from the Jazz Age of the twenties all the way through to contemporary music.

80 fascinating talks, given by incredible historians and entitled #ChalkeTalk, can now be heard on the Chalke Valley History Festival podcast. These talks have been taken from over ten years of festival appearances.

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