The largest celebration of history in the UK is set to return this summer The Daily Mail Chalke Valley History Festival will run from 20-26th June 2022

  • Back for 7 days this summer
  • Expanded outdoor programme and entertainment
  • World-class speaker line-up
  • Hugely popular Festival for Schools also returns

Regarded as an important part of the summer festivals calendar, The Daily Mail Chalke Valley History Festival is set to return from 20-26th June this summer and promises to be more exciting and interactive than ever before.  After a slightly shortened version in 2021, this year it will be back to seven days, packed full of historical entertainment, inspiring discussions, fun for all the family and featuring the very best historians in the land. Also back for 2022 is the Chalke Valley History Festival for Schools, which will run for two days and will offer a curriculum-based programme of events designed to encourage pupils to learn about history through a series of immersive activities and engaging talks.

Taking place at its stunning venue in Broad Chalke, near Salisbury in Wiltshire, this year’s festival will build on some of the hugely popular open-air events introduced last summer. Visitors will be able to listen to world-class speakers, and to watch eye-catching demonstrations given by knowledgeable living historians, whilst sitting on the surrounding hills savouring delicious historic fast food. Household names like acclaimed travel writer Colin Thubron will take to the stage in one of the big speaker tents, whilst children experience the thrill of driving the 1930s dodgems or riding on the big wheel at the vintage fairground.

A new Speaker’s Corner tent, where visitors of all ages can listen to shorter but highly informative talks in a more informal atmosphere, is being introduced for the first time this festival.  Much-loved BBC broadcaster Justin Webb and former Home Secretary Alan Johnson will be discussing their experience of growing up in the 1960s and 1970s, while festival favourite David Owen will return to give a topical talk about two hundred years of British-Russian relations. There will be more living activities than ever before, highlights including a spectacular Restoration Pageant on both the Saturday and Sunday, traditional crafts, farming and the role of women during the Second World War.

There will be a live music programme every day. Revellers will be transported back to the 1920s with Trip For Biscuits, and other bands, in the bar area right at the heart of the festival where festival goers, and living historians in full costume, can relax together at the end of each day whilst watching the mid-summer sun go down against the historic backdrop of the stunning ancient Chalke Valley downland.

Alex Compiniani will be serving up some delicious Pompei street food during this year’s festival and Restoration Horse Racing will be one of the colourful new additions to the living history programme. Dan Snow’s ‘History Hit’ returns with a podcast and re-enactment each day for all the family, and a fascinating event with wartime RAF Mosquito veterans is bound to be one of the highlights of the programme this time. For those wishing to sleep under the stars, there will be camping and glamping facilities available, with a stunning view to wake up to over the festival site.

Festival Chair, James Holland, said: “There really is going to be an incredible range of history on offer this year.  Our talks and discussions have traditionally been the backbone of the festival and, once again, we have among the very best historians around coming to speak. But more than ever we are offering a much wider programme that includes lots of live music, a reconstructed Iron Age round-house, vintage funfair and some truly stunning and original living history displays, from Restoration-era horse racing to a forensic reconstruction of how Richard III lost his life at Bosworth. There will be so much on offer for children and families visiting together and I really do think this is our very best programme ever.”

The amazing line-up of speakers already confirmed at this year’s Daily Mail Chalke Valley History Festival includes Helena Merriman sharing the incredible story of Tunnel 29, a true story of an extraordinary escape beneath the Berlin Wall in 1962, the bestselling historian Andrew Roberts presenting his most recent book about George III, the BBC World Service’s Lipika Pelham discussing an alternative history of identity from the Middle Ages to the present day, Simon Jenkins on Europe’s 100 best cathedrals, and Sarah Churchwell talking about the history and legacy of the epic novel Gone with the Wind.

The full programme, and more detailed information about what’s in store this year, will be unveiled shortly. Tickets will go on sale to the general public on Wednesday 3rd May.

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.

For further information, please contact Alex Hippisley-Cox on mobile 07921 127077 or email her at [email protected]

The Daily Mail Chalke Valley History Festival will take place at Church Bottom,
Broad Chalke, Salisbury, Wiltshire,
SP5 5DP. 

Chalke Valley History Trust receives lifeline grant from Government’s £1.57bn Culture Recovery Fund

Chalke Valley History Trust (CVHT) has been awarded £260,000 as part of the Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund (CRF) to help face the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic and to ensure the Chalke Valley History Festival and its Festival for Schools have a sustainable future, the Culture Secretary has announced today.

CVHT, owner of Chalke Valley History Festival, is one of 1,385 cultural and creative organisations across the country receiving urgently needed support. £257 million of investment has been announced today as part of the very first round of the Culture Recovery Fund grants programme being administered by Arts Council England. Further rounds of funding in the cultural and heritage sector are due to be announced over the coming weeks.

The Chalke Valley History Festival is a unique celebration of history that includes talks, performance, music, living history, and story-telling, covering a very broad range of subjects from the deep past to the near present, and through many different perspectives. It is the largest festival in the UK (perhaps the world) devoted entirely to history and attracts a local, regional, national and international audience. The festival is owned by a charitable trust set up to promote the understanding and inspiration of the past to the widest possible audience of all ages but especially children through the Chalke Valley History Festival for Schools which runs concurrently.

In the decade since the festival has been running, we have brought a major cultural event to south-west Wiltshire – there is no rural-based cultural festival of this scale anywhere else in the area.  It attracts some 25,000-30,000 people annually and also provides a large number of jobs and boosts the local economy; we use local businesses as far as we possibly can.

Over a week, visitors enjoy a blend of talks, discussions and debates, alongside a vast through-the-ages living history encampment featuring interactive events and, at the weekend, air displays of historic aircraft. The festival is noted for the range of performers it attracts from leading academics and nationally renowned figures to the best living historians. In addition to political, social, economic and military history, experts in the history of art, music, theatre and literature educate and entertain the audience.

Following the cancellation of the 2020 festival and the attendant costs already incurred, without the funding from the Arts Council Culture Recovery Fund we were planning a greatly reduced festival for 2021 which would not have included the Festival for Schools. This funding will enable us to mount the Festival, including the Festival for Schools, with social distancing measures in place (provided, of course, that holding a festival at all complies with Government guidelines) from 21-27 June 2021.

Festival Director, Jane Pleydell-Bouverie, said:

“We are absolutely delighted and so grateful to have received funding thanks to the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund. We passionately believe that it is only by learning about the past that we can make sense of the present and prepare for the future so this grant will enable us to continue to mount the Festival for Schools alongside the main Chalke Valley History Festival programme.”

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said:

“This funding is a vital boost for the theatres, music venues, museums and cultural organisations that form the soul of our nation. It will protect these special places, save jobs and help the culture sector’s recovery. 

“These places and projects are cultural beacons the length and breadth of the country. This unprecedented investment in the arts is proof this Government is here for culture, with further support to come in the days and weeks ahead so that the culture sector can bounce back strongly.”

Chair, Arts Council England, Sir Nicholas Serota, said:

“Theatres, museums, galleries, dance companies and music venues bring joy to people and life to our cities, towns and villages. This life-changing funding will save thousands of cultural spaces loved by local communities and international audiences. Further funding is still to be announced and we are working hard to support our sector during these challenging times.”


2020 Festival cancelled

PRESS RELEASE: Announcement from the Festival team

Monday 23rd March 2020

It is with very heavy hearts that we have to announce today that, in light of the Coronavirus pandemic, the Daily Mail Chalke Valley History Festival will not be taking place this June. Sadly, events have taken such a dramatic turn over the past week that it is simply no longer possible to hold it as planned.

James Holland, Chair of the Festival, said: “We cannot thank you enough for all your enormous support of the Festival over the past decade and we are truly sorry it cannot take place this summer, our tenth anniversary year. The programme was due to go to print this week, and we have all been especially excited about it, believing it the best ever. For your interest, we are posting it on the newly redesigned website at One thing is for certain, however, this is just a temporary blip. The festival will return.”

The Festival was due to take place from 22nd-28th June.

Chalke Valley History Trust supports the Cranborne Chase Landscape Partnership Scheme with grant funding and which has just been awarded Heritage Lottery funding

Festival announces plans to construct the largest model World War II fighter plane ever built

Forget ‘The Angel of the North’.  ‘The Tiffy of the South’ will be dominating the hills surrounding the Chalke Valley this summer.

[Salisbury, UK 2ndApril 2019] To mark the 75thanniversary of D-Day and the liberation of France this June, The Daily Mail Chalke Valley History Festival is creating a giant scale replica of the Hawker Typhoon aircraft, or the ‘Tiffy’ as it was known.

Artist’s impression

Perched on the crest of the hill in Broad Chalke, near Salisbury in Wiltshire, overlooking the main festival site, the plane will be FOUR times the size of the original and will dominate the local landscape. With a wingspan of 19 metres, a length of 14 metres, and height 7 metres, this massive installation will be a similar size to a 60-seater passenger jet and will be instantly recognizable for miles around.

Built in partnership with QinetiQ – a leading science and engineering company operating primarily in the defence, security and aerospace markets – at the MOD Boscombe Down, this will be the largest model Word War II fighter plane ever built.  Its construction will be overseen by QinetiQ engineers, with much of the work being carried out as a special project by the company’s apprentices  who will be working alongside universities, colleges and schools.  Local children, years 6 and above, will be helping to paint sections of the plane, and even branches of the Scout Association in the area will be closely involved.

A single-engine fighter plane, capable of speeds of over 400mph and armed with both 20mm cannon and eight rockets, the Hawker Typhoon came to symbolise the dominance of the Allies in the air during D-Day and the Normandy campaign that followed. It also played a vital role in the Allied victory and the liberation of France.
The Festival will be using the construction of this giant ‘Tiffy’ to inspire the next generation about history and engineering, whilst paying homage to the 16,000 Allied airmen who lost their lives during the Normandy battle and were among the unsung heroes of the liberation.

Education is at the heart of the Chalke Valley History Festival, and the Hawker Typhoon replica will be a core component this summer, educating both pupils and the public on the importance of this aircraft.  Whilst everyone knows about the Spitfire, the ‘Tiffy’ is very much the forgotten hero of the Normandy Campaign, and the Festival aims to redress this imbalance with a series of daily talks to pupils and the public about the aircraft, its crew and the important part it played in World War II.  There will be a special path created up to the plane, where these talks will take place, be recorded and then published on a dedicated website, as well as on the Festival’s educational History Hub.

Whilst there are some fifty Spitfires flying still flying today, there is not a single Hawker Typhoon.  The Hawker Typhoon Preservation Group plans to change this by restoring RB396, which flew with 174 Squadron, to airworthy condition from their base in Sussex and aims to get their ‘Tiffy’ flying again in the next few years.  The Festival’s model plane will be painted in the same 174 Squadron markings and will help to promote The Hawker Typhoon Preservation Group’s very exciting vision to see a ‘Tiffy’ flying over Britain once more.

The replica will be brought to the Festival site from Boscombe Down in time for the 75thanniversary of D-Day on 6thJune. It will be seen by over 30,000 visitors to the Chalke Valley History Festival and by thousands of school children who attend the Festival for Schools.

For more information as the project develops and to book tickets after 30th April, go to:


— ENDS —

The Festival will take place 24th– 30thJune 2019 at Church Bottom, Broad Chalke, Salisbury, Wiltshire, SP5 5DP.

For more details about the Festival, please visit
Follow all the news on Twitter at @CVHISTORYFEST and on Facebook and Instagram.

For press and media enquiries: Alex Hippisley-Cox on +44 (0)7921 127077 or email her at [email protected]

PRESS RELEASE: Festival launches major new five-year project threading together the different strands of Britain’s history

A major new five-year project, threading together the different strands of Britain’s history, has been announced. Entitled ‘Britain: The Thread of History 1603-2016’, this exciting new venture will be launched on the first day of this year’s Festival, on Monday 24th June 2019.

Against the backdrop of widespread political uncertainty and cultural change, it has never been more relevant to understand the rich and varied history of the British Isles. Why are we the nation we are? And why do we have the cultural and ethnic mix that we do? The answers, of course, lie in our country’s past. With this ground-breaking project, the Festival aims to thread together many of the different strands of Britain’s story in a series of thirty-five talks, downloadable podcasts and chapters, which will combine into a single-volume book, published by Bantam Press in 2023. One copy of the book will be donated to EVERY secondary school in the country.

A very eminent body of historians has helped steer this very special project from conception to reality:

• Professor Ali Ansari, School of History, University of St Andrews
• Chris Culpin, Historian, former Teacher, CVHT Trustee
• James Holland, Historian, Broadcaster, CVHF Chair and Programme Director
• Dr Clare Jackson, Broadcaster and Senior Tutor, Trinity Hall, Cambridge University
• Professor Margaret Macmillan, Warden of St Antony’s College, Oxford University
• Dan Snow, Historian and Broadcaster

Professor Ali Ansari will give an overview of this thought-provoking new initiative with an introductory talk on the first afternoon, followed by a series of seven talks given by other distinguished historians, covering the reign of James I and VI, the War of the Three Kingdoms, the emergence of new political and religious thinking, right through to the Restoration.

For each subject in the Thread of History, among the very best historians and communicators have been chosen to be a part of this incredible story. Every speaker will write a 4,000-word essay, with each one forming a chapter to be included in the proposed book. The first podcasts and accompanying essays will be available to download later this year.

The line-up for the 2019 series of talks, plus a full list of all 35 chapter outlines for the forthcoming book can be found here:

Media enquiries: Contact Alex Hippisley-Cox on mobile 07921 127077 or email her at [email protected]

PRESS RELEASE: 2019 Festival – first speakers revealed

“It’s always one of the highlights of my summer” ~ CHARLIE HIGSON

From Monday 24th to Sunday 30th June, a usually quiet field in Broad Chalke, near Salisbury in Wiltshire, will come alive and be transformed into the world’s largest festival entirely devoted to history. Spread over 60 acres, it is a unique combination of talks, discussions and topical debates, plus a vast living history encampment, where the very best living historians – all experts in their field – bring history to life with their extensive knowledge and passion for their subjects. The Festival also boasts a range of interactive tents and activities such as SOE Commando training and Secret Agent Training; as well as archaeology walks, vintage vehicles, a book store, shopping emporium, a bar, fine dining and street food.

This summer, over 150 talks and debates will be delivered by eminent historians, writers and commentators. Speakers already confirmed include: Victoria Hislop, Michael Wood, Mariella Frostrup, Niall Ferguson, Kate Williams, Max Hastings, Elif Shafak, Ian Kershaw, Kwasi Kwateng, Neil Oliver, Antonia Fraser, Ben MacIntyre, and Olivette Otele. Plus, appearances by Ken Tout, a veteran of one of the most famous tank engagements of WWII, and John Jammes, French resistor and winner of the Croix de Guerre, promise to be particularly special events.

During the week, The Schools’ Festival enables pupils and teachers to get out beyond the classroom and experience history in a new way. The Festival provides a full programme of curriculum-based subjects, delivered with expertise and a fresh, interactive and immersive approach. Now in its 7th year, with increased numbers of children and schools attending each year, the Festival welcomed nearly 2,500 pupils in 2018. The Schools’ Festival for 2019 will run on Tuesday 25th June (for Years 6,7 & 8,9), Wednesday 26th June (for Years 10 & 12), and Thursday 27th June (for Years 6,7,8, & 9).

The 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings will also be marked at Chalke Valley this year, and there will be a special D-Day morning to commemorate all those who fought in the Normandy campaign. For the first time, the Festival will also be recreating a World War II trench. The scene will be set in late June in 1944 and members of the public will be thrown into a fly-on-the-wall scenario that will demonstrate the equipment, conditions and dangers facing British troops on the Normandy frontline.

In addition, the festival weekend will see an exciting new programme of living history events, showcasing the age of the Anglo Saxons and Vikings, right the way through to the Second World War.

Brand-new themes for 2019:

Exploration: how exploration and navigation has changed, demonstrating the techniques of the Vikings, Tudor explorers such as Drake and Raleigh and also Captain James Cook. Historic Home: exploring the changing ways in which we live. From the Vikings to the Age of Chivalry and from the Tudors to the Stuarts, living historians will be showing how clothing and dressing has changed over the centuries, and how cleanliness and attitudes to hygiene have also progressed.

Historic Farming: a major theme for this year, demonstrating a wide variety of different rural crafts and farming techniques, comparing ancient to modern day, from sheep driving, traditional sheering, haymaking and a series of connected skills from a wheelwright to hurdle maker to traditional blacksmithing.

The Royal Anglians: the Festival weekend falls on Armed Forces Day, which this year will be centered round the local cathedral city of Salisbury. To tie in with this event, the Festival will play host to over twenty current British Army infantrymen from the Royal Anglian Regiment who will be transformed into British infantry from 1944. Using their current skills, they will be demonstrating both what has changed in the intervening years and what has remained much the same with a series of events that will showcase equipment, weapons, tactics and infantry skills.

The full programme outlining the full range of activities, and giving more details about the talks and debates taking place, plus more information about the Schools’ Festival, will be announced in due course, and tickets will go on sale on 30th April.