English Heritage’s Festival of History returns to Kelmarsh Hall, Northamptonshire on Saturday 16 & Sunday 17 July for a blockbuster weekend of clashing swords, epic battles and have-a-go fun for all the family. One of the highlights this year is a replica WWI trench, recreated by a team who have been working on Steven Spielberg’s latest movie War Horse.
A Replica WWI Trench
In the replica World War One trench, visitors will be able to glimpse of the reality of life for men and horses on the battlefields of the Great War.
English Heritage Head of Events Emily Burns says, “The WWI trenches have been created for us by Ancient Wisdom Historical Art Direction and Battlefield Partnerships, a team of archaeologists, historical interpreters and actors who have recently finished work on Steven Spielberg’s War Horse. The team have employed some of the same movie magic used on War Horse to recreate a scene from the Great War for this year’s Festival of History, complete with water filled shell craters, shattered trees and twisted barbed wire.”
Andy Robertshaw, of Battlefield Partnerships says, “The battlefield scene we are creating for Festival of History will become an elaborate stage for our performances from the front line, told in the words of the real soldiers who experienced it. We will be touching on the role of horses during the Great War and involving some live horses in the performances. Between shows visitors will be able to walk through the trenches and meet the Tommies.”
War Horse author Michael Morpurgo, whose bestseller has been transferred to stage and now onto film due for release next year, will be talking about his writing (Saturday only) as part of the inaugural Festival of Historical Writing. Dozens of other historical writers including MC Scott (The Boudica series and Rome series), Simon Scarrow (The Eagle series) and Robert Low (The Oathsworn series and Kingdom series) will also be on the Festival of Historical Writing stage and signing books.
Travel Through 2,000 Years
With over 1000 historical re-enactors taking part and 50 different shows and displays to choose from each day the festival offers a unique journey through history.
Visitors will be able to witness the might of the Roman army, cheer on their knight in the medieval joust and feel the ground tremble beneath their feet as horses hooves thunder past. Other highlights include Wellington’s famous Red Coats in action, a display of tent pegging, and the appearance of a Spitfire as it roars in for explosive action from the Second World War.
Beyond the action on the battlefields, in the living history camps visitors can meet Vikings, Romans, knights, jesters, and soldiers from two World wars. Also new for 2011 is a unique display of artillery through the ages featuring for the first time in the UK an 1815 Napoleonic horse drawn artillery team with six horses pulling half a ton of cannon gun across the grounds.
Roman Army Training, Juggling and a Victorian Seaside!
For children, there’s the chance to experience life as a Roman Legionary, along with taking a role on stage in a fun play with lots of audience participation. There’ll also be juggling shows and an intriguing Victorian travelling show featuring Lionel the sharpshooting lobster! Visitors can then unwind at the traditional Victorian seaside where you can build a sandcastle, watch a Punch and Judy show, or just relax in a deck chair.
Find Out More & Book Tickets
English Heritage Festival of History is on Saturday 16 and Sunday 17 July at Kelmarsh Hall, near Market Harborough, Northamptonshire, NN6 9LY. Gates open 9.30 am – 6pm. 1 day tickets: Adults £20.00, Concessions £18.00, Child (5-15) £12.00, Family (2+3) £52.00. Two day tickets also available. Discounts of up to half price for English Heritage members. To book call: 0870 333 1183 or visit www.festivalofhistory.org.uk.
Keep up with latest developments for this year’s Festival of History line-up at Facebook at www.facebook.com/festivalofhistory and Twitter @FestivalHistory.