1st - 31st May 2022
Calligraphy Exhibition: 'The Written Word'
The art of beautiful writing …. or, in other words, Calligraphy.
Originally planned for 2020, we are delighted to finally be putting this work on display.
An exhibition by Severn Quills, a group of local, and very talented, calligraphers based in Upton-on-Severn. The exhibition is themed around the spoken and written word, and the importance of libraries – a perfect theme for a Festival of Words and for an exhibition staged in a library! If you haven’t seen this Exhbition, do pop into the library. Its attracting some great comments and they are open to commissioned work.
Venue: Evesham Library, Oat Street. WR11 4PJ
1st - 31st May 2022
Competition 'First Line….'
A new online Competition for the Festival. We give you the First Line and you just need to complete the story. Free to enter and fun. For Competition Rules, see our Competition page. This competition runs for the whole of May.
Tuesday 17th May, 7.00 pm
'The Trouble with Trivia' with Rob Hemming
Join us for a delightful evening’s entertainment at a relatively new Evesham venue – Cornmill Yard – for a two-course supper (tapas and dessert) followed by speaker, Rob Hemming, giving what is bound to be a very amusing talk ‘The Trouble with Trivia’.
Opened just over a year ago,just off Cheltenham Road, Cornmill Yard has quickly established itself as a great venue. The interior is industrial arty and the food is great. Add to that, very friendly staff. We are delighted to be holding our first event at The Yard.
Rob Hemming is a popular and entertaining local speaker. He is the author of Shazam: The History of a Regal Cinema.
Venue: Cornmill Yard, Cornmill Lane, off Cheltenham Road, Evesham. WR11 2LL
Tickets: £20. (This event is now sold out so no more tickets available.)
Wed 1st June, 5.30 pm (Zoom event)
'History of Royal Jubilees' with Christopher Joll
Jubilees are a very British phenomenon, ranging from the Golden Jubilee of King George III to the Platinum Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II. In this talk, Christopher Joll will cover the history of Jubilees and then focus on the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1897. This involved the largest parade of mounted troops ever seen in London, and – in an echo of the Platinum Jubilee – had to address the problem of Queen Victoria’s immobility. It did so in a way that will not, to the relief of the Grand Duchess of Mecklenburg’s ghost, be repeated in 2022.
Christopher Joll spent six years as an officer in the Life Guards. Since leaving the army in 1975, he has been involved in devising and managing royal and national fund-raising pageants for military charities. He has also published four historical works and a fifteen-volume military-historical/action-adventure series. When not writing or directing, he is a guest lecturer for Noble Caledonia and Viking Cruises. He is also Regimental Historian of the Household Cavalry.
This talk is in collaboration with Mirthy (www.mirthy.co.uk)
Venue: N/A Zoom event. If you can’t make the date, just sign up for the talk and you will receive a link to the recording. Available for 7 days after the event.
Tickets: Tickets are free to Mirthy members or on signing up for first month free membership. https://www.mirthy.co.uk/event-calendar/history-of-royal-jubilees/
1st - 30th June 2022. CANCELLED
'Music in Monochrome'(Photography Exhibition)
Sadly, the planned photograph exhibition, Music in Monochrome, due to take place at The Regal Cinema in June, has been cancelled.
Thursday 30th June, 7.30 pm
'Words and Music of Evesham' with Colin Pitts and John Raphael
Colin Pitts is a popular local singer/songwriter, many of whose songs are inspired by Evesham – the river, the streets, the cafes. With his warm style, thought-provoking songs, and his powerful guitar playing, his audiences can’t help but get involved with his songs. He will be joined by John Raphael, a great local performer (and Town Crier in his spare time!) with words of Simon de Montfort and local benefactor, John Martin, among others.
This is the perfect way to kickstart our main Festival weekend, and the Studio Theatre provides a wonderfully atmospheric setting. Doors open at 7pm. Bar open prior to the event and during the interval.
Venue: The Henrician (Studio Theatre), Victoria Avenue. WR11 4QH
Tickets: £9.00, plus 50p booking fee, available from www.henrician.org.
Friday 1st July, 10.30 am - 12.30 pm
'Shaking the Family Tree' with Sue Ablett, Noelle Chambers and Galen Bartholomew
When you shake a tree you never know what will fall out of it – dead branches, a bird’s nest, eggs, or maybe beautiful flowers. Exactly the same applies when you start ‘shaking’ your family tree.
In this illustrated talk, Sue Ablett, Noelle Chambers and Galen Bartholomew, all members of the Festival Steering Group and keen family history researchers, will talk about some of their discoveries – the fascinating stories and characters that only come to light once you start to delve, the things that surprised us, the things we learnt. Our experiences are very different, from how we have found out what we have, to what we have found out. Join us for a fascinating look into the past. Hear about rakes and rascals, skeletons in the cupboard, and lost souls, among other things! Maybe you will be inspired to ‘shake’ your own tree.
Why not enjoy lunch at one of the lovely cafes in Evesham, before a great afternoon programme of events.
Venue: 117 High Street, Evesham. WR11 4EQ
Friday 1st July, 2.00 - 3.00 pm
'It's Never Too Late' with Jane Bettany and Helen Yendall
Jane Bettany and Helen Yendall didn’t take the direct route to novel writing. They’d been writing short stories for women’s magazines for over twenty years before success in writing competitions propelled them into exciting new careers as novelists.
They’re both now published by HQ (Harper Collins). Jane writes the DI Isabel Blood crime series – In Cold Blood and Without a Trace (with a third book in the series due to be released in 2022). Helen’s novels are set in the 1940s. Her debut is A Wartime Secret and her second novel will be published in the autumn.
Helen and Jane will be talking about their writing journeys, the inspiration for their books and the competition wins that launched their novel-writing success.
Venue: 117 High Street, Evesham. WR11 4EQ
Friday 1st July, 3.30 - 4.30 pm
'Close to Me' - In conversation with Amanda Reynolds
Amanda Reynolds bestselling debut novel, Close to Me, published in 2017 by Headline, was adapted for TV as a six-part series starring Connie Nielsen and Christopher Eccleston. It aired in the UK on Channel in November 2021 and shortly afterwards in the USA.
She is the author of two more psychological suspense novels, Lying to You and The Hidden Wife. Her books draw inspiration from the countryside and villages which surround her, dark twisty plots dreamt up on long dog walks.
We will chat to Amanda about her writing career and how the TV option of Close to Me came about. It had good reviews. We will see what Amanda thought of it and where she is going next.
Venue: 117 High Street, Evesham. WR11 4EQ
Friday 1st July, 7.30 pm
'Festival Quiz Night'
Regular Festival quiz masters Helen Yendall and Chris Cherry return with more questions on everything from poetry and song lyrics to book titles and the meaning of words, the Festival’s popular quiz night has a WORDY slant!
There will be a maximum of 12 teams of 4. Light supper included. Pre-booking of teams essential.
Venue: Raphaels Restaurant (Hampton Ferry), Boat Lane, Evesham. WR11 4BP
Tickets: £8 per person, including light supper.
Saturday 2nd July, 10.30 am - 12.30 pm
Workshop 'Writing Funny' with Fran Hill
Do you ever read something funny and think: how the heck did they do that? Do you wish you could write funny too? Or perhaps you can and want to sharpen those skills. Come to Fran Hill’s ‘Write Funny’ interactive workshop and learn some of the secrets behind effective punchlines in jokes, amusing images and funny characters. Fran’s session will cover all of these and more, and fun mini-tasks will help you practise and get you laughing. Bring your sense of humour and be ready to play!
Fran is a writer and teacher from Leamington Spa where she lives with her husband. She has three grown-up children and two grandchildren. She is an experienced published writer and wrote a monthly humour column for several years in the Times Educational Supplement, the national newspaper for teachers. Her most recent book, a funny teacher-memoir called Miss, What Does Incomprehensible Mean? was published by SPCK in May 2020 and has over 80 Amazon reviews. Fran’s website is www.franhill.co.uk.
Venue: Ecgwin’s Club, 117 High Street, Evesham. WR11 4EQ
Tickets: £15, incl cold drinks and cake (maximum 15 places)
Saturday 2nd July, 11.00 am - 12 noon
'Poems of the Sea' with Linda Hart and Max Hunt
Staycations and seaside holidays have boomed in the last two years, so for this event we invite you sit back and allow yourself to be transported to the sea.
The sea provides a poetic metaphor for beauty and adventure, danger and escape, turbulence and calm. But A.E. Housman, in a humorous vein, told his brother Laurence that poems about the sea never referred to its most striking characteristic: it was wet. “The sea is a subject by no means exhausted. I have written a poem which directs attention to one of its most striking characteristics….”
This programme will begin with Housman’s amusing poem, and then move on to poems about the sea by Matthew Arnold, Alfred Lord Tennyson, John Masefield, and a host of other poets. “Our readings,” said Linda, “will span approximately 1,000 years of English poetry, starting with an anonymous Anglo-Saxon poem.”
Venue: Friends Meeting House, Cowl Street, Evesham. WR11 4PN
Tickets: £6, including tea and cake.
Saturday 2nd July, 1.30 - 2.30 pm
Walk and Talk: 'Evesham Abbey Site: The latest news'
Join this hour long walk and talk to hear all the latest news about what’s happening with Evesham Abbey site. The site, long neglected, apart from a small number of allotment holders, has in recent years undergone a massive transformation. Gone is all the ivy on the crumbling walls, which are now being beautifully restored. The Cloister and Nave areas have been cleared of the debris of centuries and are ready for some archaeology to be carried out. The allotment holders are now all relocated to the south side of the plot where they will remain. Plans are being drawn up for the creation of fabulous heritage gardens which will be fully open to the public so that this beautiful and historic site can be enjoyed by all. (The work has all been undertaken by, and on behalf of, Evesham Abbey Trust).
The walk is on reasonably level ground but flat shoes recommended.
Venue: Meet at the Evesham Almonry and Tourist Information Centre, Abbey Gate, Evesham. WR11 4BQ
Tickets: FREE EVENT but please register to attend by the day before (email: email@example.com or tel: 0787 1285606)
Saturday 2nd July, 3.00 - 4.00 pm
'An Afternoon with Housman' with Gregory Leadbetter
‘Leaving, Greeting and Lasting in Last Poems’.
Last Poems was published to considerable acclaim in 1922, twenty-six years after A Shropshire Lad. Gregory’s talk will be one of a number of events celebrating the centenary of Housman’s second volume of poetry. There will be an opportunity to purchase copies of a new limited commemorative edition with Foreword by Andrew Motion at a special discounted price.
Gregory Leadbetter’s books of poetry include Balanuve, with photographs by Phil Thomson (Broken Sleep, 2021), Maskwork (Nine Arches Press, 2020) – longlisted for the Laurel Prize for Poetry 2021 – The Fetch (Nine Arches Press, 2016), and the pamphlet The Body in the Well (HappenStance Press, 2007). As a critic he publishes widely on Romantic poetry and thought, twentieth-century and contemporary poetry, and his book Coleridge and the Daemonic Imagination (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011) was awarded the University English Book Prize 2012. He is Professor of Poetry at Birmingham City University. As Director of the Institute of Creative Writing in the School of English, he leads the programme of guest seminars and masterclasses with authors, critics, editors and agents for students, together with a programme of public literary events every year. He is a highly regarded interviewer and compere of literary events. As a poet he is invited to give numerous public readings and lectures every year, both in this country and overseas.
This is a joint Evesham Festival of Words and Housman Society event.
Venue: All Saints Church, Market Place, Evesham. WR11 4RW
Tickets: £6 to include tea and cake (served from 2.30 pm) Event free to Housman Society members but please register in advance via Housman Society.
Saturday 2nd July, 7.00 pm
'Killing Gandhi, Dante's Divine Comedy and India at the Crossroads' with Vaseem Khan
In this session bestselling crime writer Vaseem Khan takes us on an exhilarating journey from the last days of the Raj to the heart of modern India. He will examine the setting of his new novel, The Dying Day, in 1950s Bombay, just a few years after Indian independence, the assassination of Gandhi, and the horrors of Partition. He will also discuss one of the world’s great treasures, a 600 year old copy of Dante’s The Divine Comedy, which is stored at Bombay’s Asiatic Society and vanishes at the start of The Dying Day, leaving behind a trail of cryptic riddles and dead bodies…. The first book in the series, Midnight at Malabar House, won the Crime Writers Association Historical Dagger in 2021, the world’s premier award for historical crime fiction, and introduced us to Inspector Persis Wadia, India’s first female police detective, and her co-investigator, English forensic scientist, Archie Blackfinch.
Vaseem Khan is the author of two award-winning crime series set in India, the Baby Ganesh Agency series set in modern Mumbai, and the Malabar House historical crime novels set in 1950s Bombay. His first book, The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra, was selected by the Sunday Times as one of the 40 best crime novels published 2015 – 2020, and is translated into 16 languages. The second in the series won the Shamus Award in the US. In 2018, he was awarded the Eastern Eye Arts, Culture and Theatre Award for Literature. Vaseem was born in England, but spent a decade working in India. He works at the UCL Jill Dando Institute of Security and Crime Science – very useful as a crime writer!
Venue: Evesham Rowing Club, Abbey Road, Evesham. WR11 4ST
Sunday 3rd July, 10.30 am - 12.30 pm
Workshop - 'Travel Writing: Destination Publication' with Simon Whaley
Pack your bags for a trip of a lifetime as we explore the world of travel writing with author and photographer, Simon Whaley. Discover how to turn your holidays into inspirational travel features. Find out what to pack (into your articles) and what to leave behind. And learn how to get through passport control (aka the editor) as we take off on a new writing adventure.
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 and became a full-time writer. He is 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 a bit of a photographer too.
Venue: Hampton Community Hall, Pershore Road, Evesham. WR11 2PQ
Tickets: £15 incl tea and cake. (Max 15 participants)
Sunday 3rd July, 2.00 - 3.00 pm
'The Mitfords, Their Times and Their Friends' with Di Alexander
Diana Alexander had long been interested in the famous Mitford sisters. She read the novels of Nancy and knew about the activities of Diana, the wife of British Fascist, Oswald Mosley, Unity, the friend of Hitler, Jessica, the communist and civil rights activist, and Deborah, the Duchess of Devonshire.
When she moved to a village in the Cotswolds, she discovered another sister, Pamela. Although Pamela shunned the limelight, she married the millionaire scientist Derek Jackson. She motored around Europe alone. Her sense of adventure was balanced with a quiet domesticity, and she was happy at home in her kitchen garden and tending to her animals. She was always there for her sisters when they were sick or sorry. She was a wonderful cook, tended a well-stocked vegetable garden, and loved to give meals to her family and friends.
Best of all, Pam had a total recall memory and regaled Diana, a freelance journalist, with stories of her family. They became firm friends – Diana wrote many articles about her and followed this with a biography, The Other Mitford, Pamela’s Story.
Diana’s talk, The Mitfords, Their Times and Their Friends, is an extraordinary true story of an extraordinary family. “You couldn’t make it up,” she says.
The Friends Meeting House is a lovely setting for this talk. Enjoy tea after the event, taking in the beautiful and peaceful garden.
Venue: Friends Meeting House, Cowl Street, Evesham WR11 4PN
Tickets: £8 to include tea/scones/cake (served after the talk)
Sunday 3rd July, 6.30 pm
'Remarkable Women' with Derek Taylor
Join us for the concluding event of our main Festival weekend (though not the end of the Festival) for a celebration of two Remarkable Women.
The first part of the evening will be a fascinating talk, entitled ‘Celia Fiennes in Worcestershire and Gloucestershire’, with Derek Taylor. The late seventeenth traveller, Celia Fiennes, came to this part of the country in 1698. She kept a detailed journal and describes her journey and findings. She was apparently enraged by the corrupt politicians she meets in Worcestershire, and that was soon after an encounter with armed highwaymen! Gloucestershire, by contrast, was thriving. In Derek Taylor’s latest book, England from a Side-Saddle: The Great Journeys of Celia Fiennes, we learn of the courage, determination and curiosity of one woman who was centuries ahead of her time.
Derek Taylor is a former international TV news correspondent, and now best-selling historian and acclaimed public speaker, including as a celebrity lecturer on Cunard Cruises.
Celia was certainly one truly remarkable woman, but this event is also an opportunity to remember Lindsay Stanberry-Flynn, a local author and founder member of Evesham Festival of Words, who sadly died in May 2021. We are hoping to also include music and readings dear to Lindsay and her family. Derek dedicated this book to Lindsay.
Venue: Munroe Suite, Northwick Hotel, Waterside, Evesham. WR11 1BT
Tickets: Free event, including glass of wine. Please pre-register for this event by email: firstname.lastname@example.org, or tel: 0787 1285606. (Note: this event is supported by the family of Lindsay Stanberry-Flynn)
Friday 8th July, 7.30 pm
'Once Upon A Song'
EODS are thrilled to be back with the Festival of Words, performing an enchanting array of magical songs. Once Upon a Song will be a family friendly concert, featuring much loved songs from the musicals that were inspired by fairy tales and literature. From the mysterious to the mesmerising, this is a show you won’t want to miss!
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. And you get a glass of wine in the interval!
Venue: Bengeworth Church, Port Street, Evesham. WR11 3LF
Tickets: £10, incl glass of wine. Note tickets also available from: EODS and The Almonry Museum (E: email@example.com)
Wednesday 3rd August, 7.00 pm
'My Year with Flying Scotsman' with David Parker
Flying Scotsman will be 100 years old in 2023.
Is there a finer sight than the grace and power of a huge steam engine on the move? The award winning television programme maker, David Parker, was lucky enough to spend 12 months filming the rebuilding of Flying Scotsman, and made two television programmes about what many regard as the world’s most famous steam engine. But the year was anything but a bed of roses. In this illustrated talk David will show clips from both programmes and reveal the ways he found to weave the story of Flying Scotsman’s one hundred year history with its year long rebuild and how he overcame the many problems that bedevilled the rebuild and almost torpedoed the TV programme.
David has given stunning talks to the Festival about his time filming both Laurie Lee and Johnny Kingdom, as well as leading a walk in Laurie Lee country (the village of Slad). We are delighted to welcome him back to Evesham.
Venue: Evesham Rowing Club, Abbey Road, Evesham. WR11 4ST
Friday 19th August, 12.30 pm
'Herbert Austin and the Longbridge Story' with Max Hunt
Join us once again in the delightful surroundings of Holland House for a Friendly Lunch, followed by what is bound to be a fascinating talk, ‘Herbert Austin and the Longbridge Story’, with speaker Max Hunt.
Max’s talk will trace the rise of Herbert Austin from obscure beginnings in rural Buckinghamshire, through the pioneering days of the motor industry, to the development of Europe’s largest single-site car factory on the edge of Worcestershire. He will take in some of the social consequences of this expansion together with the contribution made by Longbridge to military production in two World Wars. The talk will conclude with some thoughts on the squandering of Lord Austin’s legacy in the post-war years.
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 (booked direct via Holland House. Online – www.hollandhouse.org; email: firstname.lastname@example.org; or tel: 01386 860330.
Sunday 11th September, 2.00 pm
'Raising Agents' with Mikron Theatre Company
We are thrilled to welcome Mikron Theatre Company back to Evesham with their play, Raising Agents, celebrating 100 years of the Women’s Institute.
Bunnington WI is a bit down-at-heel. Dwindling membership means they can barely afford the hall, let alone a decent speaker. So when a PR guru becomes a member, the women are glad of new blood. Initially. The milk of WI kindness begins to sour when she re-brands them the Bunnington Bunnies. They’re hopping. With stakes higher than a five tiered cake stand, a battle ensues for the very soul of Bunnington, perhaps the WI itself! On the threshold of one century into the next, this tale of hobbyists and lobbyists ask how much we should know our past or how much we should let it go. Above all else, like the WI itself, Raising Agents is a story of friendship.
Raphaels Restaurant at Hampton Ferry is the ideal location. The event will take place outside whatever the weather. Bring your own chairs. If you would like to have lunch at Raphaels before the event, please liaise direct with Raphaels.
Venue: Raphaels Restaurant, Boat Lane, Evesham. WR11 4B
Tickets: No need to pre-book tickets. Just come along. There will be the usual ‘Mikron pay what you feel’ bucket collection at the end of the performance.
Wednesday 12th October, 7.30 pm
'A Life in the Arts - Much Laughing and a Few Tears' with Chris Jaegar
Chris Jaegar is a highly-experienced writer, musician, actor and director, with a lifetime of working in the Arts. He is Director of the Worcester Festival and Managing Director of ‘On A Role’, which tours a number of one-actor shows nationally and internationally. His love of folk music encouraged him to become a folk agent, representing a string of well-known folk singers over the years. He was head-hunted to try to save the failing venue, Huntingdon Hall in Worcester, and then took over Worcester’s Swan Theatre when it went bankrupt. Both are now thriving. For twelve years he wrote and directed the Swan Theatre’s professional pantomime. He is Chair of the Guild of Drama Adjudicators, and adjudicates drama festivals all over Britain. He is drama advisor the Royal Navy. He was until recently Chairman of the English Symphony Orchestra. In 2013, Chris was awarded the MBE for services to the Arts. With this incredible and impressive array of work experience, we can be assured of a truly memorable talk.
Venue: 117 High Street, Evesham. WR11 4EQ
Friday 4th November, 12.30 for 1.00 pm lunch
'Canal People' with Tony Conder
This event was due to take place in March but was cancelled due to the speaker’s illness.
250 years ao the canal age began. Since then people have worked boats and carried cargo, managed and maintained the waterway. This talk highlights the variety of work on the canals, the role of women and marriage, and peers into all aspects of living on the working waterways.
Speaker, Tony Conder, was the museum curator for British Waterways and the Waterway Trust for 25 years at Stoke Bruerne, the Canal Museum, and then Gloucester The National Waterways Museum. Tony is a firm festival favourite and we are delighted to welcome him back to this joint Evesham Festival of Words/Holland House Friendly Lunch event.
Venue: Holland House, Cropthorne. WR10 3NB
Tickets: £20, including 2-course lunch. (Special diets catered for). Tickets only available via Holland House – www.hollandhouse.org, or email: email@example.com, or tel: 01386 860330.
Wednesday 7th December, 7.00 pm (Zoom)
If you like nothing more than sitting down and doing a crossword, then this is the event for you, particularly if you’ve never really thought about what goes into setting the crossword – who does it, how do they do it?
Angela Bell is a self-confessed cruciverbalist (aka a person who enjoys or is skilled at solving crosswords). Join her for this fascinating online talk as she examines the origins and history of cryptic crosswords, and learn more about the people who set cryptic crosswords.
Angela also runs a regular online Coffee and Crossword event where attendees work in a group to solve clues. If you enjoy a crossword puzzle, but sometimes get stuck on a tricky clue or two, this could be just what you need.
Venue: N/A (Zoom event)