HRH The Duchess of Cornwall to visit the Daily Mail Chalke Valley History Festival to support opening event with The Reading Room

Photo by: Hugo Burnand

Photo by: Hugo Burnand

The organisers of the Daily Mail Chalke Valley History Festival are delighted to announce that HRH The Duchess of Cornwall will be visiting the festival in person on Monday 20th June.  Her Royal Highness will be attending in support of an eagerly-anticipated event being organised by her popular Reading Room channel which is collaborating with a festival for the very first time.

The Duchess of Cornwall’s Reading Room is a prestigious hub for literary communities around the world which celebrates literature in all its forms. Inspired by the success of Her Royal Highness’s reading lists shared during the pandemic in 2020, The Reading Room channel offers new seasons of book recommendations, as well as exclusive insight from the authors themselves, in a community space for book lovers of all ages, abilities and backgrounds.

Taking part in the event at the Chalke Valley History Festival will be Philippa Gregory, one of the world’s foremost historical novelists, 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. The Duchess of Cornwall will introduce the event and be present in the audience throughout.

The event will be filmed in front of a live audience on the day and then shown as part of Season 7 via The Reading Room’s @duchessofcornwallsreadingroom Instagram feed later this summer.

“We are very honoured that HRH The Duchess of Cornwall is giving up her precious time to attend the history festival and delighted that we will be making a little bit of history ourselves as it will be the first time that the Reading Room has chosen to partner with a festival of any kind. It promises to be a marvellous occasion to open the festival and we much look forward to Her Royal Highness’s visit in ten days’ time.”

Festival Director, Jane Pleydell-Bouverie

The Duchess of Cornwall’s Reading Room REDISCOVERING WOMEN IN HISTORY, featuring Philippa Gregory and Alison Weir, and in the presence of HRH The Duchess of Cornwall, will take place on Monday 20th June at 3.45pm. For tickets visit


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


Talks from over ten years of festival appearances, given by incredible historians, and entitled #ChalkeTalk, can now be heard on the Chalke Valley History Festival podcast.

The Daily Mail Chalke Valley History Festival will take place 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.

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. 

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