The Programme 2023

We have created a fantastic programme this year and are delighted to present our  Evesham Festival of Words Brochure 2023!  With an exciting range of events to suit all tastes, why not share with friends and take the opportunity to guarantee seats with an early booking! 


For more information on any event, or for ticket enquiries, please contact: 

Festival Chair, Sue Ablett ( 0787 1285606

  • Friday 2nd June, 1pm

    'Richard III: From Car Park to Cathedral'

    The story of the discovery of Richard III in a car park in Leicester in 2012 is well-known.  What is perhaps less well-known is the story of what happened subsequently.  Described as ‘The man Leicester Cathedral chose to bury a king’, Revd Pete Hobson offers a unique perspective on Richard’s final journey from discovery to reburial. 

    For Pete, this was a once in a lifetime project. There was no precedent for reburying a king and the eyes of the world were watching closely. The story of Richard III is one that continues to capture the imagination. 

    Pete Hobson is author of How to Bury A King – The Reinterment of King Richard III.

    Two-course lunch is served at 1.00 pm (special diets can be accommodated), but arrive early to get a drink and enjoy the lovely house and gardens.  The talk will commence about 2.00 pm.

    Venue: Holland House, Cropthorne. WR10 3NB.  SOLD OUT!

  • Wednesday 7th June, 7.00 pm

    'DNA Detectives'

    Turi King is the expert geneticist on the hit BBC series DNA Family Secrets, where she appears alongside presenter Stacey Dooley.

    In this talk she will chart the rise in the use of DNA in genealogy and forensics for everything from tracing long lost family members to catching criminals. Her examples will include the first immigration case through to identifying the bones of King Richard III.

    Passionate about communicating science to the public, Turi King’s academic research at The University of Leicester bridges the gap between genetics and archaeology. 

     She is best known for her work in ‘cracking one of the biggest forensic DNA cases in history’ during the exhumation and reburial of King Richard III.  We are thrilled to welcome her to Evesham. 

    This really is an event not to be missed and follows on beautifully from our previous event.

    NOTE Change of venue from that advertised in Brochure – new venue The Monroe Suite, Northwick Hotel, Waterside, Evesham. WR11 1BT.

    Tickets: £12. SOLD OUT.  FOR WAITING LIST EMAIL!  


  • Saturday 24th June, 7.30 pm

    'A Novel Show' with EODS

    EODS are looking forward to being back in the Festival of Words for another year and performing again in this beautiful venue.

     Many wonderful musicals have been inspired by novels. During this concert EODS will stage a selection of readings from the original works and songs from the musicals they inspired. From Dickens classics to Roald Dahl family favourites, all ages are catered for in this showcase of dramatic and musical talent. We look forward to you joining us for this exhilarating evening of entertainment.

    This is always a wonderful evening.  With great music, beautiful voices and the stunning setting of Bengeworth Church, this event is always a real highlight. 

    Venue: Bengeworth Church, Port Street.  WR11 3LF

    Tickets: £10 (including wine/soft drink and nibbles).  Children under 12 free. 

    Tickets also available from: The Almonry Museum.  Call in person, or T: 01386 446944


  • Thursday 29th June, 10.00 am - 1.00 pm

    'Literary Links' - Guided Walk

    This is a joint event with Evesham Walking Festival.  

    As we admire the stunning views on this 5-mile walk you’ll have a chance to pause awhile and learn something of the history of Dumbleton Hall, some of its literary links, including Mrs Gaskell, as well as hearing about Sir Patrick Leigh Fermor, who lived and is buried in Dumbleton, and is regarded by many as Britain’s greatest adventure travel writer.  

    Afterwards, why not treat yourself to lunch at the Gardener’s Arms in Alderton, our finishing point.

    Please ensure you are wearing suitable footwear and bring clothing to suit whatever the weather.  No dogs allowed.

    Venue:  Meet at The Gardener’s Arms, Alderton, Glos.  GL20 8NL.  ERC – Dumbleton walk Information.

    Tickets: £3 (

  • Thursday 29th June, 7.30 pm

    'Beyond the Asum Road': An Evening of Words and Music

    Back again by very popular demand after a great event last year, we are delighted to welcome popular locals, singer/songwriter, Colin Pitts, and actor/performer, John Raphael, for an evening of words and song.  Asum is the colloquial name for Evesham and a local dialect.  Don’t worry, you won’t need to understand it to enjoy the evening!  We are delighted to have them back again for what is bound to be another fabulous, and unforgettable, evening.  They certainly got last year’s main Festival weekend off to a cracking start, and The Henrician’s Studio Theatre is the perfect venue.

    Venue: The Studio Theatre, Henrician, Victoria Avenue.  WR11 4QH

    Tickets:  £9.50 (Plus 5op booking fee per ticket) .  Only available from:

  • Friday 30th June, 10.30 am - 12.30 pm

    'More From the Family Tree'

    Featuring Sue Ablett, Galen Bartholomew and Noelle Chambers, and following on from last year’s very popular event when they ‘shook the family tree’.    

    A year on we have all made lots more fascinating findings from our family history delving, and we look forward to sharing some of them. 

    Noelle will be talking about several family members who found their way into ‘watery graves’; Galen will bring family history to life, sharing some pleasures and pitfalls from his latest family research; and Sue will touch on a miscellany of findings, including how she traced her Huguenot ancestry, and the results of some particularly dogged detective work about a missing family member, and all that the search threw up.  You certainly couldn’t make that one up!  The search would have done Sherlock Holmes proud!

    Why not stay on and enjoy lunch at the venue before the afternoon session!

    Venue: 117 High Street, Evesham. WR11 4EQ

    Tickets: £9.  (Includes cold drink and cake.) 

  • Friday 30th June, 2.00 - 3.00 pm. EVENT CANCELLED. SEE BELOW FOR REPLACEMENT EVENT

    'From Exotic 18th Century Mughal India to Europe'

    Author Moin Mir was due to talk about his latest novel, The Lost Fragrance of Infinity.  Unfortunately Moin is now unable to come to Evesham.  A replacement event, a talk entitled Around the World in 80 Days has been arranged – see below.

  • Friday 30th June, 2.00 - 3.00 pm

    Around the World in 80 Days

    Around the World in 80 Days is a talk that Festival Chair, Sue Ablett, first gave – at the first Festival in 2016.  She describes it as a travel talk with a literary twist and is back again in 2023 with a slightly amended version.  This is one of Sue’s most popular talks.  It is fun, entertaining but informative and interesting.  As people have often said, there is so much in it that you need to see it more than once!

    Venue: 117 High Street, Evesham, WR11 4EQ

    Tickets: £8 (including soft drink and cake)


  • Friday 30th June, 3.30 - 4.30 pm.

    'Confessions of a Book Blurb Writer'

    Louise Willder writes book blurbs for a living with Penguin Books.  During her career she has blurbed more than 5,000 books.  Chances are you will have been sold on one of them!    Whenever you venture into a bookshop, its likely you will have seen something she has written, though her name never appears.   She reckons that most of us will read – or skim – more book blurbs than books in our lifetime. 

    In this new topic for the Festival, Louise will talk about how she got into writing blurbs and some of the challenges.  She will talk about her book, Blurb Your Enthusiasm: An A-Z of Literary Persuasion, in which she attempts to answer some of the many questions that arise while writing blurbs, drawing on the lessons she has learned as a writer of blurbs, a blurber, a blurbologist, or a blurbiste!

    Venue: 117 High Street, Evesham. WR11 4EQ

    Tickets : £8 (includes cold drink and cake.) 

  • Friday 30th June, 7.30 pm

    'Festival Quiz Night'

    Regular Festival quiz masters, Helen Yendall and Chris Cherry, return once again with more questions on everything from poetry and song lyrics to book titles and the meaning of words.  As usual, the Festival’s popular quiz night definitely has a WORDY slant!

    Raphael’s Restaurant is the perfect venue for our Quiz Night, and a light supper is included in the price.  (Teams of 4.  Pre-booking of teams essential.)

    Venue: Raphael’s Restaurant, Boat Lane, Evesham. WR11 4BP

    Tickets:  £8.50 per person.  (Maximum of 10 teams of 4). NOTE: THIS EVENT IS NOW SOLD OUT.  FOR WAITING LIST PLACE EMAIL: 

  • Saturday 1st July, 10.30 am - 12.30 pm.

    WORKSHOP: 'Winning Words'

    Want to write short prose that is a hit? Want to wow a judge or magazine editor? Join award winning fiction and nonfiction writer and editor Electra Rhodes for a session that focuses on writing fantastic flash and super short stories that really stand out from the crowd. 

    Electra Rhodes is an archaeologist who lives in Hertfordshire. Since beginning writing in 2020 she’s won fifteen competitions, been placed in seventy others, and judged a dozen more. She’s one of the 2022-23 Emerging Writers with the London Library – writing an intersectional biography of the British Landscape, and was one of Writing West Midlands Room 204 cohort in 2021.

    Venue: 117 High Street, Evesham. WR11 4EQ

    Tickets: £15, including cold drink and cake. 

  • Saturday 1st July, 10.45 - 11.45 am

    'The Perfect Couple: A Game Changer'

    Jackie Kabler is a television presenter and crime writer.   Her bestselling psychological thrillers – Am I Guilty?, The Perfect Couple, The Happy Family and The Murder List – have sold nearly three quarters of a million copies and been translated into eight languages. In the past two years Jackie has had Amazon number one hits in both the UK and Canada, an Audible number one bestseller and a USA Today bestseller.  A former TV news reporter, Jackie is also author of the Cora Baxter Mysteries, a series of three cosy crime murder mysteries set in a television newsroom. Her latest novel, The Vanishing of Class 3B, will be released in May 2023.  Jackie was last with us in 2018.  She describes her fifth novel, The Perfect Couple, as a “bit of a game changer”. Join us for an update.


    Venue: Friends Meeting House, Cowl Street, Evesham. WR11 4PN

    Tickets: £8 (includes tea and cake.) 

  • Saturday 1st July, 1.00 - 2.00 pm

    Sherlock Holmes: A Man of Many Faces but Surprisingly Few Hats'

    This talk by Martin Davies is a light-hearted look at the great man’s development over time – through film, radio and spin-off works like Martin’s Mrs Hudson stories.  This is a talk that should appeal to anyone who has ever enjoyed any of the stories or watched a film or followed any of the various TV series.  Whether you’re a fan of Rathbone, Brett or Cumberbatch, or if you just want to know if Larry Hagman ever really played Sherlock Holmes, this is the talk for you. 

    Martin’s writing career picked up after a rocky start!  His first novel, The Conjurer’s Bird, was selected for the Richard & Judy Book Club, and sold over 150,000 copies.  Havana Sleeping, an espionage thriller, was shortlisted for the 2015 CWA Historical Dagger Award.  He is also author of the Holmes & Hudson Series, about Sherlock Holmes’s housekeeper, with his publisher demanding that he expands that series.  Martin was last with us in 2019 talking about the mysterious business of book covers.

    Venue: Friends Meeting House, Cowl Street, Evesham. WR11 4PN

    Tickets: £8 (includes tea and cake).

  • Saturday 1st July, 3.00 - 4.00 pm

    'Ladies of Blenheim - Lust and Laudanum'

    Blenheim Palace, home to the Dukes of Marlborough, is one of the UK’s most impressive stately homes.   This talk provides an entertaining look at the lives and loves of the ladies of the Marlborough family – usually overlooked in favour of the men.  Beginning with Sarah Churchill, the indomitable First Duchess, and continuing through the centuries with the adventures of some of her successors, this talk redresses the balance as it looks at the achievements of some of the women and discusses the thwarted talents and potential of other members of the Marlborough family. 

    Antonia Keaney first joined Blenheim Palace in 2008 as a member of the Education Team, later becoming the Palace’s Social Historian and Researcher.  Both roles have involved her curating a number of exhibitions at Blenheim.  She is the author of Percy at the Palace – A Dog’s Eye View of Blenheim, and A Passion for Fashion – 300 Years of Blenheim Style.  She has made various TV appearances, including BBC’s Country File, Channel 4’s Phil Spencer’s Stately Homes, and most recently on Channel 5’s The Cotswolds with Pam Ayres


    Venue: Friends Meeting House, Cowl Street, Evesham. WR11 4PN

    Tickets: £8 (to include tea and cake). 

  • Saturday 1st July, 6.30 - 7.30

    'An Evening with Sophie Hannah'

    Rightly described as the ‘Queen of Psychological Suspense’, Sophie Hannah is an internationally best-selling writer of psychological crime fiction, published in 32 languages and 51 countries.  She is also a poet, and a very engaging and entertaining speaker.

    Her first novel, Little Face, was published in 2006.  Since then she has written 12 novels in the Waterhouse and Zailer series, as well as other works.  Two of her novels, The Point of Rescue, and The Other Half Lives, have been produced for TV as two-part drama series.

    In addition to works of her own devising, Sophie has written a series of four novels based on Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot.  Signed up by the Christie estate to continue the Belgian detective’s legacy, her first Poirot novel saw his first authorised appearance in a novel since Agatha Christie published Curtain, some 39 years earlier.

    She participated in the creation of a Masters Degree in Crime and Thriller Writing at The University of Cambridge, for which she is the main teacher and course director.  She is also the author of two non-fiction works, How to Hold a Grudge, and Happiness, a Mystery: And 66 Attempts to Solve it.


    Venue: Evesham Rowing Club, Abbey Road, Evesham. WR11 4ST

    Tickets: £12. 

  • Sunday 2nd July, 10.30 am - 12.30 pm

    WORKSHOP: 'Creative Non-Fiction'

    In 2022 Simon Whaley delivered a great workshop on Travel Writing.  He returns in 2023 for a workshop on Creative Non-Fiction, which he says is not about making up facts! Instead, it’s about being creative in how we convey those facts. Whether you enjoy writing travel, biography or memoir, nature/landscape pieces, food writing or simply want to improve your journalling, creative non-fiction can transform your writing, and, therefore, your reader’s experience. This two-hour workshop will explore four creative non-fiction techniques that will make your true stories read like fiction.

    Simon began writing in his early teens and after a couple of years saw his first published piece (a word-search puzzle!). Fifteen years later, in January 2004, he packed in the day job to become a full-time writer. He’s the bestselling author of One Hundred Ways For A Dog To Train Its Human, among other books, the writer of several hundred British travel, walking and general magazine features, and he’s a bit of a photographer, too!

    Venue: Hampton Community Hall, Pershore Road, Evesham. WR11 2PQ

    Tickets: £15 (including tea/coffee and cake). 

  • Sunday 2nd July, 2.00 - 4.00 pm

    'An Afternoon with Joanna Cannon'

    Joanna Cannons journey from junior doctor to best-selling author is both remarkable and inspiring.  Leaving school at 15, and then returning to study for A levels in her thirties would be enough of a challenge for many, let alone then signing up to do a medical degree.  She worked as a junior doctor before specialising in psychiatry, and then left the profession to concentrate on her writing career. 

    She is best known for her debut novel, The Trouble with Goats and Sheep, published in 2016, famously written in an NHS car park in her lunchbreak, just for fun (she thought her mum might read it!)  This was followed by Three Things About Elsie (2018), and a memoir, Breaking and Mending (2019).  Her third novel, A Tidy Ending, was released in 2022.  Her first two novels were both Sunday Times bestsellers and Richard and Judy picks.  Together her books have sold almost a million copies and been translated into 14 languages.  She is a regular panellist on TV and radio, and at literary festivals across the country.  She was last with us in 2019 and we are thrilled to welcome her back to Evesham.

    Venue: Friends Meeting House, Cowl Street, Evesham. WR11 4PN

    Tickets: £10 (includes tea/scone and cake). 

  • Sunday 2nd July, 7.00 pm

    'Desert Island Poems' with Alistair McGowan

    Festival Patron, and ‘local lad’, Alistair McGowan, is best known as an impressionist, comic, actor, singer and writer.  He will be remembered to British audiences, and became a household name, for The Big Impression, which was, for four years, one of BBC1’s top-rating comedy programmes, winning numerous awards, including a BAFTA in 2003.  He has also worked extensively in theatre, including appearances in the West End, and performed some of the voices for the ITV television series Spitting Image.  More recently he has proved to be an accomplished classical pianist, with The Piano Show combining stand-up comedy, impressions and what has been described as “some remarkably sensitive keyboard recital pieces.”

    We are thrilled to have Alistair with us tonight.  An inspired and inspiring entertainer, this evening Alistair will talk to us about his love of poetry, and share with us some of the poems that he has treasured most throughout his life.

    Venue: Evesham Rowing Club, Abbey Road, Evesham. WR11 4ST

    Tickets: £12. 

  • Saturday 8th July, 3.00 - 5.00 pm

    'If Clouds Were Sheep'

    Sue Andrews is the author of three popular farming memoirs about life on her sheep farm in the Cotswolds.  She has even been dubbed the “Cotswolds’ answer to Amanda Owen!”  She has an incredibly warm and characterful story to tell about how she and her husband Aubrey followed their farming dreams.  A tale of small beginnings and the age-old call of the farming life.  It certainly seemed an impossible dream at first.  Sue was a horse-mad girl strongly attracted to the idea of farming.  Aubrey was the son of a farm manager without land or money. 

    Sue recalls that it all started with Satan, a superb specimen of a black Welsh Mountain ram.  He certainly proved a challenge and a good part of their learning curve.  Now internationally renowned breeders of pedigree Texel sheep, there are a host of stories in between.  A joint event with Harvington Festival.

    Venue: Harvington Village Hall, Station Road, Harvington. WR11 8NQ

    Tickets: £8 (including tea/scone/cake). 

  • Wednesday 26th July, 7.00 pm

    'The Great Train Robbery - 60 Years On'

    2023 marks the 60th Anniversary of The Great Train Robbery, an event that saw the theft of £2.6 million from a Royal Mail train heading from Glasgow to London on the West Coast Main Line in the early hours of 8th August 1963.   

    After tampering with the lineside signals to bring the train to a halt, a gang of 15, attacked the train.

    Ian Boskett from Tewkesbury has studied the events of 8th August and the subsequent investigations and enquiries.  How did the robbers know there was more money than usual on the train that night?  Ian has uncovered some fascinating local connections with the heist: one of the escape flights out of the country took off from an airfield in Worcestershire.  Some items connected with the heist, all supposedly destroyed, have quite recently resurfaced!  So just how did the gang tamper with the signals?  Ian will tell the story and give a live demonstration!

    Venue: Evesham Rowing Club, Abbey Road, Evesham. WR11 4ST

    Tickets: £9. 

  • Saturday 5th August, 2.00 pm

    'Bikes and Books''

    This event is a unique opportunity to celebrate a love of biking with a love of books. Join us for a 20-mile social cycle ride, starting at Evesham Velo Park and finishing at Raphael’s Restaurant, where we will pose for photos on the Festival Book Benches. Led by local cycling star, Helen Russell, this ride will pause in Dumbleton to hear about Dumbleton Hall and its literary connections, including Mrs Gaskell and Charles Dickens, and visit the grave of Patrick Leigh Fermor, once described as “Britain’s greatest travel writer”. On to Bredon Hill where we will stop for a reading of AE Housman’s famous poem, On Bredon Hill.

    Ride in conjunction with Cycle Evesham Vale. This is a free event.

  • Saturday 26th August 7.30pm

    'Twitchers - Birds, Birders and the RSPB, with Mikron Theatre Company

    Springwatch is coming to RSPB Shrikewing nature reserve.  Jess, the Reserve Warden, can’t wait to show the world this special place, with its amazing wildlife and incredible birds.  But Shrikewing is not an island.  From pollution and vandals to an overzealous mayor, Jess is starting to feel that protecting birds from human interference might just be impossible.  As we meet raucous rooks, booming bitterns and plenty of tits we realise the birds of Shrikewing are its real stars.  Can Jess take inspiration from the RSPB’s tenacious female founders and draw on its history of campaigning to save them?  Can she find her own voice to raise a rallying cry for nature?

    Nest(le) down with Mikron in this flight through birdwatching history, feathered with birdsong and laughter from heron in and you won’t ‘egret coming!

    Venue: Raphael’s Restaurant, Boat Lane, Evesham. WR11 4BP.

    This event will take place outside whatever the weather.  Bring your own chairs.  If you would like to eat at Raphael’s before the event, please book direct.  No need to pre-book for this event.  Just come along.  There will be the usual Mikron ‘pay what you feel’ bucket collection at the end of the performance.

  • Friday 13th October, 1.00 pm

    'SS Suevic - A Tale of Shipwreck and Survival'

    Join us once again at Holland House for a 2-course Lunch and talk.  The SS Suevic was a steamship, built specifically to service the Liverpool-Cape Town-Sydney route.  She ran aground in a storm near the Lizard Point in Cornwall 116 years ago, in 1907.  It is a truly remarkable story.  456 people were rescued by the RNLI over some 16 hours with no lives lost.  This is still the largest number of people rescued by the RNLI in a single operation.  Galen Bartholomew is a keen family historian.  Two of his relatives were amongst those rescued.  His illustrated talk will describe how he pieced together an extraordinary story – how the Suevic ran aground; the dramatic circumstances of the rescue; the salvage and rebuilding of the ship (in what was the largest salvage operation ever undertaken at that time); and the Suevic’s final years as a whaling factory ship in the Antarctic, before being scuttled off Sweden to avoid capture by German warships.  A remarkable tale of shipwreck and survival.

    Two-course lunch is served at 1.00 pm (special diets can be accommodated), but arrive early to get a drink and enjoy the lovely house and gardens.  The talk will commence about 2.00 pm.

    Venue: Holland House, Cropthorne. WR10 3NB

    Tickets: £20, via Holland House

    E:, or T: 01386 860330


  • Saturday 18th November, 7.00 pm

    'Mrs Churchill - My Life with Winston'

    Winston Churchill is arguably one of the most famous Englishmen that has ever lived.  His inspirational leadership helped win the Second World War, and his parliamentary career of 62 years ensured he was responsible for momentous decisions.

    They say that behind every great man, there is a great woman.  Was this true in Churchill’s case?  What of Clementine, his wife for 56 years?  Did he bully her like he did so many other people?  Was he as grumpy and irascible at home as he often was in the House of Commons?  Given his strength and conviction, did Clem have any influence on him at all?  Or was she the little lady at home?

    Winston said, “my most brilliant achievement was my ability to be able to persuade my wife to marry me.” 

    All these questions will be answered, and many more, in Liz Grand’s superb, moving, sensitive and informative portrayal of Clementine Churchill.  (Liz’s previous shows include The Second Best Bed and Where is Mrs Christie?).  Presented by

    Venue: Bengeworth Church, Port Street, Evesham. WR11 3LF

    Tickets: £12 (Includes wine/soft drink and nibbles). 

  • Saturday 9th December 7.30pm

    'A Christmas Carol'

    Don’t Go Into The Cellar perform at venues across the UK, from theatres to manor houses and festivals.  Their shows offer an original take on traditional Victorian and Edwardian literature – perfect for people seeking good old-fashioned theatrical entertainment!  Their aim is to bring new adaptations of 19th century literature’s greatest ghost and horror stories to modern day audiences.

    Join the great Victorian novelist, Charles Dickens, as he brings to life one of the most famous ghost stories of all time, A Christmas Carol – a tale of revenants and redemption, hauntings and humbug, seasonal spooks and sentiment.  Jonathan Goodwin stars as Dickens in this one-man performance, co-directed by Goodwin and Gary Archer.   Suitable for 13+ years.  Length of show approximately 1 hour 40 minutes, including 20 minute interval.

    Venue: The Henrician Studio Theatre, Evesham.  WR11 4QH.

    Tickets:  £11 or £9 concession (plus 50p booking fee per ticket)  Tickets:

    Tickets also available from 0333 666 3366 (additional fee for telephone bookings).  

  • December 2023

    'Evesham Christmas Tree Festival'

    Visit Evesham Christmas Tree Festival in the beautiful setting of All Saints Church.  With around 40 trees on show, this really is quite a sight.  And make sure you visit the EFoW tree, pick up a copy of our Christmas Quizsheet, a Save the Date Flier for 2024, and help yourself to one of our Secret Santa book bundles.  

    Venue: All Saints Church, Market Place, Evesham. WR11 4RW

    Free event.

Secured By miniOrange