Announcing Chalke Walks

Today we are launching our new “Chalke Walks” which will be showcasing the fascinating history behind some of our historian’s favourite walks. Starting with our very own James Holland detailing his favourite walk around Broad Chalke and the surrounding area of the festival site.

We will be adding favourite walks from all over the country in the coming months, just in time for Spring and Summer!

Find out more on Chalke Walks



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

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

2021 Roadmap

We are really thrilled to be able to announce our intention to hold the history festival this year in June.

It will be a slightly shortened version, running from the afternoon of Wednesday 23rd to the evening of Sunday 27th June. As usual, it will be held at our beautiful venue in Broad Chalke, near Salisbury in Wiltshire. We are also delighted that it will be one of the first big ‘live’ events of the summer, starting just two days after the proposed lifting of Covid restrictions on 21st June.

After much consultation with the relevant authorities and key stakeholders, the five-day event – only made possible after receiving a generous grant from the Arts Council Culture Recovery Fund – will take place in accordance with Government guidelines, with strict health and safety regulations in place where necessary.

Due to government guidelines, there will be restrictions on the number of tickets for sale this year. We would strongly advise you to book tickets early to avoid disappointment.

Our plan is to focus events around two big marquees – with socially distanced seating – and a wider, entirely outdoor programme that will include two new amphitheatre-style stages that will host talks and panels as well as the large tents.

The festival will offer its usual amazing line-up of talks, topical debates, living history and activities for children, with eminent historians and household names all bringing history to life. Among those already confirmed are Max Hastings, Margaret MacMillan, Tracy Borman, Antony Beevor, Rana Mitter, Neil Oliver, Rowan Williams, Vince Cable, Michael Wood and Antonia Fraser.

Margaret Thatcher’s biographer, Charles Moore, will conduct a ‘Whodunnit’ on the toppling of the Iron Lady while our foremost playwright, Sir Tom Stoppard, will be grilled by his biographer, Hermione Lee.

Charles Spencer examines Norman treachery while Lady Anne Glenconner reflects on life as lady-in-waiting to Princess Margaret plus the day she accompanied the new Queen up the aisle of Westminster Abbey for the Coronation.

Our Outdoor Programme will include an extensive living history programme, which will swell spectacularly at the weekend. Scarlet-tunics will rub shoulders with Iron Age Celts, Roman, medieval longbow-men and Tudor households. There will be duelling, 16th century cookery, brewing, the exoticism of the spice trade and demonstrations of life and medical care in both world wars. 
There will also be later evening historical storytelling around crackling fires, as well as more performance-related events. The stunning valley location will offer a midsummer return to a spectacular celebration of history with all the accompanying array of food, drink, music and camping that are normal features of the June festival.

“It’s just going to have that wonderful jamboree party feel with tents and flags and archery and lots of living history. Think of it as a return to the sunlit uplands.”
James Holland, Chairman

We all hope you will be as excited about the festival as we are. It will be a fabulous chance for families to go out, have fun, meet friends across the spacious layout of the site and to soak up some culture in a safe environment. It goes without saying that the safety of all those attending will be our upmost priority. 
There will not be a physical Festival for Schools this year. Instead, the festival will be creating a wealth of specifically generated content ready for the start of the academic year in September. This will include filming curriculum-based talks from leading academics and historians relevant for students in Years 10 and 12, and also delivering a mass of filmed material for Years 6, 7, and 8. In this way the festival will provide a long-term, free digital resource in line with the aims of the Chalke Valley History Trust.

The Chalke Valley History Festival is one of the jewels in the crown of the area’s cultural life, It is wonderful news that it can proceed this year. It will be a huge boost to the morale of both history buffs and the many local businesses, which supply and support the festival.
John Glen, MP for Salisbury

The full programme, and more detailed information about what’s in store this year, will be unveiled soon.

Tickets will go on sale to the general public on Wednesday 19th May and will be released two days earlier on the 17th May to the Friends membership.

Waterstones Christmas Offer

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.”


Dates announced for Chalke Valley History Festival 2020

First speakers revealed/Historic aircraft displays return/Live music every night/ stunning new Spiegeltent/10th Anniversary/ Saturday Night Victory Party

Image by Elizabeth Perry

“The Chalke Valley History Festival makes history relevant and makes it inclusive; it understands its audience and provides for them accordingly… Festivals don’t come better than this.” about the 2019 Festival

From Monday 22nd to Sunday 28th June, the world’s largest festival entirely devoted to history returns to Broad Chalke, near Salisbury, for its 10th year with an exciting new line-up of activities.  Spread over 60 acres of stunning Wiltshire countryside, the Daily Mail Chalke Valley History Festival is a celebration of the past like no other and is a unique array of interactive living history, activities for all the family, historic aircraft displays as well as talks and discussions with top-class speakers and household names.  The Festival aims to make history accessible to all and to encourage both young and old alike to leave feeling enthralled, excited and enthused about our past.

With over 200 talks and activities already planned, the wide-ranging programme promises to suit all tastes.  Speakers already confirmed include: Holocaust survivor Inge Auerbacher; journalist and television presenter Alan Titchmarsh; former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams; globally best-selling novelist Tracy Chevalier; TV historians Dan Snow and David Starkey; international lawyer and best-selling writer Philippe Sands; comedian Al Murray; former lady-in-waiting to Princess Margaret Anne Glenconner; celebrated gardener, renowned conductor Jane Glover; BBC Newsnight’s Diplomatic Editor and historian Mark Urban; international best-selling author Jung Chang; comedian and impressionist Rory Bremner; writer, commentator and broadcaster Agnès Poirier; and the greatest living playwright, Tom Stoppard.

2020 of course marks the 75th Anniversary of VE Day as well as the 80th of Dunkirk and the Battle of Britain, and we will be holding special 1940 and 1945 days, including talks, discussions and demonstrations. It’s also an important year for the Festival itself as it celebrates its 10th anniversary.  To get everybody into the party spirit this year, there will be some exciting new changes to the Festival line-up, including a vaudeville theme, live music in the bar every night, and a beautiful new Spiegeltent.  On the Saturday night, fireworks will light up the skies over the Chalke Valley as visitors take to the dance floor and enjoy a full programme of entertainment at the Victory Party, dressed up in their glad rags and Forties finery.

The festival will look very different this year, with living history encampments right in the centre of the Festival site.  Amongst the new additions for 2020 will be four historic dwellings: Iron Age, Medieval, Tudor and a late 17th Century coaching inn.  Each one will be lived in throughout the week and will include a stockaded area for animals and all the features of daily life in those periods.

Also, if you want a preview of what else is new for this year, the list includes an SOE Training Camp, a historic brewery, an all-female crewed Russian T-34 tank, a major WWII field workshop, Soldier School, and a completely new trench experience.  Plus, you can even get your lunch Tudor-style at one of the historic fast food stalls.

For many, one of the highlights of the Festival is the series of spectacular historic aircraft displays that take place at intervals over the weekend.  So, air enthusiasts will be delighted to hear that the aircraft will be back this summer, dazzling visitors as they twist and turn over the Chalke Valley site.

The rich and varied Live History Live programme returns, showing the vital role of both women and men in our developing story.  From domestic day-to-day living to warfare and survival, there will be much to learn from the Roman and Celtic era through to the end of the Second World War.  All the living historians taking part in the activities are experts in their fields and each event will show them making or doing something from the past – and often busting many deeply entrenched myths in conversation with some of our best-loved TV historians and authors.

Last year the Festival for Schools welcomed nearly 2,500 pupils from 112 schools.  Bringing together the greatest historians, academics, living historians and TV personalities to inform on curriculum-based subjects, the Festival makes a major contribution to history education and brings history alive in new and exciting ways.  This year’s schools programme will run on Monday 22nd June (for Years 6,7,8 & 9), on Tuesday 23rd June (for Years 6,7,8 & 9) and on Wednesday 24th June (for Years 10 & 12).

The full programme for the main Festival, and further details about the Festival for Schools, will be announced in the coming weeks. Tickets will go on sale on 28th April.  

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

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

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

When possible we like to do our bit and support some special charities or organisations.

CVHF was delighted to support the following charities at the 2019 festival:

  • ABF: The Soldiers’ Charity
  • Combat Stress
  • English Speaking Union
  • Salisbury Hospice Charity
  • Tickets for Troops
  • Walking With the Wounded

REVIEW: Festivals Don’t Come Better Than This – Chalke Valley History Festival 2019

We had a lovely review from the team at Get History who made it out to the 2019 History Festival.