🎧 Battle of Britain Spitfire Hero

Audio from Geoff Wellum’s talk with James Holland at Chalk Valley History Festival on Saturday, 28th June 2014.

Geoff Wellum was a spitfire pilot throughout the Battle of Britain, flying and fighting in some of the fiercest aerial battles of that summer of 1940. More recently, he became the celebrated author of First Light, an astonishing memoir of those days. This was a rare public appearance and a very special event.

Breakfast at Sotheby’s

Audio from Philip Hook’s talk at Chalke Valley History Festival on Sunday, 29th June 2014.

Philip Hook, Senior Director at Sothebys, has worked in the art world for 35 years. With his wealth of experience, explains how art, fascinating and highly subjective, acquires its financial value and how it is traded. Looking at artists, subjects and artistic styles, he reveals the comic, absurd and piquant world of the art market.

A History of the Ashes

Audio from David Gower’s talk at Chalke Valley History Festival on Sunday 29th June 2014, chaired by Jonathan Marland.

Led by former England batsman, Ashes-winning captain and now Sky Sports presenter David Gower, our panel discussed the history of the Ashes over the past thirty years, from Botham’s Ashes of ‘81 to the recently consigned-to-history series Down Under…

This year we have another cricketing event with bowling hero Simon Jones and acclaimed commentator and analyst, Simon Hughes. ASHES 2005: THE GREATEST EVER SERIES is on Sunday, 28th June.

History, Made by Women

Foreman, AmandaOn Sunday, the final day of CVHF 2015, award-winning historian Amanda Foreman will be speaking about the history of the world, as made by women. Writing as a woman with a particular interest in women’s history, I am understandably extremely interested to hear Amanda’s talk. More importantly, I am excited by what such a high-profile discourse signifies – the growing public interest in women’s history, as evidenced by the ever-increasing number of books, TV programmes and films dedicated to female narratives, let alone the academic work that is going on behind the scenes.

Anand,-AnitaWomen’s history doesn’t get much more powerful than the suffragettes, and it has been fantastic to see their story given a new lease of life in a year in which female politics have been very much in the public eye. Later this year comes the much-anticipated film Suffragette, starring Meryl Streep as Emmeline Pankhurst, but at the festival on Saturday night the acclaimed journalist and writer Anita Anand will tell the story of a far less well-known suffragette: Sophia Duleep Singh. Dispossessed Indian Princess, godchild of Queen Victoria and society darling turned revolutionary, Singh has been described as one of the ‘unknown giants of women’s suffrage.’ The suffragette story was also the inspiration for Suffragettes Forever! The Story of Women and Power, a recent TV series presented by previous CVHF speaker Amanda Vickery, a powerful and inspiring advocate for women’s history. As well as this series and other television appearances, Vickery has published numerous books in which the lesser-known stories of women’s lives are told, often through the objects and material culture of their social spheres.

Helen CastorThe life of Joan of Arc – a similarly powerful woman from a very different era – will be the subject of a talk by medieval historian and BBC broadcaster Helen Castor at CVHF on Sunday morning. The story of the French peasant girl who heard the voice of God has become somewhat lost in myth and legend, and it is fantastic to hear an old tale re-told with a new clarity. Castor demonstrated the depth and magnetism of this gripping history in her recent BBC Two programme on the same subject, Joan of Arc: God’s Warrior. Alongside festival co-founder Tom Holland, Castor also hosts BBC Radio Four’s Making History programme, and last year made a number of recordings live at CVHF will are still available as podcasts on the BBC website.

Summers, JulieThere is perhaps less drama in the smaller social and cultural details of women’s history, but the resulting stories can reveal a huge amount about the experiences of our female ancestors, whose lives have been less extensively or formally recorded that those of men. Julie Summers is a writer who often dwells on historical subjects, and this year has most notably written the accompanying book to Fashion on the Ration, the Second World War fashion exhibition at the Imperial War Museum, and seen her recent book Jambusters translated into a successful ITV series: Home Fires. The book and consequent TV adaptation tell the story of the Women’s Institute during the Second World War, and it is on this subject that she will be speaking at CVHF on Friday afternoon. For myself, I am hoping that some forties fashion makes it into her talk also!

Kate MosseIt is important to note, of course, that female historians are interested not only in women’s history. At the festival this year we will be lucky to witness the work of some of the UK’s biggest names connected to the broad field of historical study. Speaking on Thursday is the internationally bestselling author Kate Mosse, who has shown in her incredibly popular novels the way historical fact can be interwoven with fiction to extraordinary effect. Awarded the OBE in 2013 for services to literature, I am personally very excited to hear from such a successful female writer on how she has shaped historical narratives into a world of her own cJanina Ramirezreation. I am also particularly looking forward to talks from Alice Roberts and Janina Ramirez, both of whom have made regular TV appearances alongside their successful academic careers. Ramirez, most recently spotted as a panellist on BBC museum-based quiz show The Quizeum, will be speaking about the Private Lives of the Saints at the festival on Wednesday.

Roberts, AliceAlice Roberts, meanwhile, will be speaking on Tuesday about evolution, the human body, and our historical understanding of anatomy – which, based on her compelling on-screen presence, is sure to be a highly engaging and fascinating event.

It is great to see – in both private research and the public eye – how female historians are re-shaping history in the present day. Forging a career in academia or writing is no mean feat and it is wonderful to see how many women are juggling roles in broadcasting, teaching, publishing, science, museums and more to do just that. The increasing respect for female historians bodes well for an ever more diverse and dynamic history of the world, as made by women.


lucie bw pic

On Saturday, 27th June at 5pm, fashion historian, Lucie Whitmore, will be giving a ‘Pop Up History’ talk at Chalke Valley History Festival, discussing how women’s fashion changed and was influenced by the conflict, and how we can study the garments today to learn more about women’s experience of war.

D-Day: By Those Who Were There

Audio from a talk at Chalke Valley History Festival on Saturday 28th June 2014 with Geoff Pattinson and David Render, chaired by Stuart Tootal.

In the 70th Anniversary year of the D-Day landings in Normandy, we were very fortunate to have two veterans of that campaign talking about their experiences. Fred Glover was in 9 Para, and David Render served with the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry. Chairing the discussion was Stuart Tootal, former Commander of 3 Para in Afghanistan. This was a rare treat.

History In The Making: From Cold War Certainty To The Uncertainties Of Our Present Age

Audio from Jon Snow’s talk at Chalke Valley History Festival on Sunday, 29th June.

Jon Snow is one of the most highly regarded Newsmen of our time. His personal view of global conflicts ranging from Iran and Iraq to the Berlin Wall and Central America vividly chronicle history in the making. Revealing about the great and not-so-good, his passionate take on reporting the events which shaped the modern world was both illuminating and inspiring.

Jon Snow 1Jon Snow will be returning to Chalke Valley History Festival this year for ‘An Extraordinary Life: The Incredible Career of Jeremy Hutchinson QC, Age 100 on Saturday, 27th June 2015.

The Trigger: The Journey That Led The World To War In 1914

Audio from Tim Butcher’s talk at Chalke Valley History Festival on 28th June 2014.

On a summer morning in Sarajevo a 101 years ago, a teenage assassin fired not just the opening shots of the first world war but the starting gun for modern history. Best-selling author Tim Butcher tells the story of Gavrilo Princip, whose killing of Archduke Franz Ferdinand proved so catastrophic that his own story has been largely overlooked.

War Horse and Private Peaceful: Writing about World War One

Audio from Michael Morpurgo’s talk at Chalke Valley History Festival on Sunday, 29th June.

Award- winning writer Michael Morpurgo talks on writing about the first world war for young people including Private Peaceful, Medal for Leroy and, of course, War Horse. Its huge success as a book, then a play and then a block-busting film, has made its creator into one of the most successful children’s authors of all time.

A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby And The Great Betrayal

Audio from Ben Macintyre’s talk at Chalke Valley History Festival on Sunday, 29th June 2014.

With access to newly released MI5 files, Ben Macintyre unlocks perhaps the last great secret of the Cold War. A story of intimate duplicity, loyalty, trust and treachery about the most notorious British defector and mole in history, Kim Philby is revealed as agent, double agent, traitor and enigma, and betrayer of secret Allied operations to the Russians.

Catastrophe: Europe Goes to War, 1914

Audio from Max Hastings’ CVHF talk on Saturday 28th June 2014.

Journalist, editor and acclaimed author Sir Max Hastings tells the story of how Europe went to war in 1914 precipitating the first of the 20th century’s great tragedies. He challenges the view of some modern historians that British participation was unnecessary and concludes with the christmas truces when the struggle had lapsed into the stalemate which was to last the next four years.