Completed events 2024


Here are some events you may have missed in 2024.



  • Friday 17th March

    'No Man is An Island' - the Life and Poetry of John Donne'.

    A Holland House Friendly Lunch, followed by a fascinating talk from Jeremy Holmes on the controversial 17th century poet John Donne.   He wrote some of the most sensitive and moving love poetry in the English language and gave some of the greatest sermons ever, with crowds queuing to hear him, but was forever conscious of his own mortality. As he said, “Ask not for whom the bell tolls – it tolls for thee”. “A great event – lovely lunch and company at Holland House and a very well presented talk about John Donne. Thoroughly enjoyed.” Sue Ablett

  • Friday 7th April

    '80 Years of Desert Island Discs'

    A classic Raphael’s Afternoon Tea, in the company of David Howe, who took on a wonderful journey over 80 Years of Desert Island Discs. Eight tracks, one book and one luxury.  What would you have taken to a desert island? “What an idyllic afternoon.  Lovely venue, such a friendly event, and a fabulous afternoon tea.”. (Speaker David Howe)
  • Friday 21st April

    'Gloucestershire Observed'

    We joined popular local speaker Tony Conder once again for an excellent Holland House Lunch and talk. ‘Gloucestershire Observed’ covered events inside and outside the county, as recorded in 1,000 diaries from 50 diarists in the Gloucestershire Archives. A fascinating account of 500 years of human nature from coach travel to the driving test, marriage, crime and punishment, and problems with alcohol!  ‘Another great Festival event. Lovely lunch and a very interesting talk by Festival favourite Tony Conder. Amazed to find my grandfather’s memoirs mentioned in the talk.’ Sue Ablett, Festival Chair.

  • Tuesday 9th May, 7.00 pm

    'Producing the BBC's Antiques Roadshow'

    Who doesn’t love the Antiques Roadshow? With its industrial and arty interior and great food, Evesham’s Cornmill Yard was the perfect venue for a 2-course supper and talk.   

    Robert Arley, retired television producer and director, talked about  ‘Producing the BBC’s Antiques Roadshow’, shedding extraordinary light on how a hundred experts turn an unpredictable day of location filming into a smooth Sunday evening show. I enjoyed this evening. Excellent speaker and lots of great food! (Noelle Chambers)

  • Wednesday 10th May, 7.00 - 9.00 pm (Zoom event)

    'Poetry Evening with Open Mic'

    Back again for the third year running, and for a marvellous and inspiring evening of readings and Open Mic slots, we were delighted to welcome host Beth Brooke and guest poets, Sarah Connor, Sue Finch and Annick Yerem. As ever, a wonderful evening of poetry, from our three amazing guest poets, and those with an Open Mic slot. Fantastic poems and all beautifully read. (Sue Ablett, Festival Chair)
  • Wednesday 24th March 11.00am

    'In The Footsteps of Laurie Lee'

     In 1994 TV Producer David Parker spent the summer recording interviews with much-loved author Laurie Lee, a man who generally did not ‘do’ television. Today we  joined David for a special guided tour of the village of Slad, enshrined in much of Laurie Lee’s work. In glorious weather and amid the stunning scenery around Slad, we paused at times to  hear from stories from David and listen to recordings of Laurie Lee’s own voice talking about some of what we saw. 
    A perfect day in every way.  Glorious scenery, a beautiful walk, David’s stories, the voice of Laurie Lee, and a great pub lunch to finish. (Galen Bartholomew)
  • 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 and one that continues to capture the imagination. Described as ‘The man Leicester Cathedral chose to bury a king’, Revd Pete Hobson offered us today a unique perspective on Richard’s final journey from discovery to reburial, with the eyes of the world watching closely. “Another perfect event. The sun shone. A lovely summer lunch menu, the usual warm Holland House welcome. And a fabulous talk about Richard III.” Sue Ablett.


  • Friday 7th June 7pm

    '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 fabulous talk she charted the rise in the use of DNA in genealogy and forensics for everything from tracing long lost family members to catching criminals. Her examples included the first immigration case through to identifying the bones of King Richard III! Tonight’s event was absolutely amazing ,so enjoyed it. We thought Professor Turi King was so informative, witty and a wonderful speaker and we certainly learnt a lot from it ,thank you for organising it. We’re both looking forward to attending more events soon.” 
  • Saturday 24th June

    'A Novel Show' with EODS

    In this exhilarating evening of entertainment, EODS staged 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 were catered for in a beautifully lit showcase of dramatic and musical talent, set in the stunning setting of Bengeworth Church. This concert of music and readings was a pleasure to sit and listen to. (Joyce Davey) “A packed Church enjoyed a balmy evening with wonderful entertainment.” (Sue Ablett)
  • Thursday 29th June

    'Literary Links' - Guided Walk

    A joint event with Evesham Walking Festival.  

    As we admired the stunning views on this fantastic 5-mile walk, we had the opportunity to pause awhile and learn something of the history of Dumbleton Hall, with literary links such as Mrs Gaskell.

    We also heard about Sir Patrick Leigh Fermor, who lived and is buried in Dumbleton, and is regarded by many as Britain’s greatest adventure travel writer. “A stunning walk.  Beautiful views, a good crowd, and interesting talks about Dumbleton Hall and Patrick Leigh Fermor.  Wonderful start to our Festival weekend.” Sue Ablett


  • Thursday 29th June 7.30pm

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

    Back again by very popular demand after a great event last year, we were delighted to welcome popular locals, singer/songwriter, Colin Pitts, and actor/performer, John Raphael, for another fabulous, unforgettable evening of words and song.  What a cracking start to this year’s main Festival weekend, with The Henrician’s Studio Theatre the perfect venue. A wonderful evening of storytelling at it’s best – beautiful music and lyrics from Colin – and hilarious character cameos from John. A brilliantly unexpected pairing of local talent. (Lynn Lucchese)
  • Friday 30th June

    'More From the Family Tree'

    Another fabulous presentation from Sue Ablett, Galen Bartholomew and Noelle Chambers, sharing lots more fascinating findings from their family history delving. Noelle  talked about several family members who found their way into ‘watery graves’, Galen shared some pleasures and pitfalls from his latest family research, whilst Sue explained how she traced her Huguenot ancestry, and the results of some particularly dogged detective work about a missing family member! “A brilliant presentation! We know how much work goes into this but how rewarding and fulfilling it is when you know more of your family history”. (Mike and Val Taylor)
  • Friday 30th June

    Around the World in 80 Days

    Around the World in 80 Days is a talk that Festival Chair, Sue Ablett, gave at the first Festival in 2016.  She describes it as a travel talk with a literary twist and was back again today with a slightly amended version.  This is one of Sue’s most popular talks and it is clear to see why. It was fun, entertaining but informative and interesting – and proved that, as people have often said, there is so much in it that you need to see it more than once! ” Exhausting! A fabulous presentation.” (Alan Smith) “Exhilarating! Beautifully presented and with fascinating content” (Christine Smith)

  • Friday 30th June

    '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. Whenever you venture into a bookshop, its likely you will have seen something she has written, though her name never appears.   In this fascinating new topic for the Festival, Louise talked about how she got into writing blurbs, how blurbs are produced in liaison with authors, editors and publishers – and how she came to write her book, ‘Blurb Your Enthusiasm: An A-Z of Literary Persuasion’.  “Louise is a delightful presenter. Who knew the intricacies of successful blurb writing?  Fabulous insight into a role that we really knew very little about…until today. ” (Noelle Chambers)

  • Friday 30th June

    'Festival Quiz Night'

    Regular Festival quiz masters, Helen Yendall and Chris Cherry, returned once again with more questions on everything from poetry and song lyrics to book titles and the meaning of words.  With Raphael’s Restaurant as the perfect venue, it was an evening of fun and friendly competition. An excellent end to the first full day of our main Festival weekend! Thanks to Helen, Chris and their team for compiling yet another fabulous quiz – I particularly enjoyed their singing of the answers to the ‘Name that tune’ round. Very impressive – and definitely ‘in tune’. (Lynn Lucchese)
  • Saturday 1st July

    WORKSHOP: 'Winning Words'

    Want to write short prose that is a hit? Want to wow a judge or magazine editor? We joined award winning fiction and nonfiction writer and editor Electra Rhodes for a session that focused on writing fantastic flash and super short stories that really stand out from the crowd. A smashing session for Evesham’s Festival of Words today – 2 hours on writing winning words. Big thanks to the organisers (second to none, absolutely) & to everyone who came – they laughed, took notes, and nodded seriously at all the right moments. Good luck everyone! Electra Rhodes


  • Saturday 1st July

    'The Perfect Couple: A Game Changer'

    Jackie Kabler is a television presenter, news reporter and crime writer, who was last with us in 2018. Writer of bestselling psychological thrillers, Jackie is also author of the Cora Baxter Mysteries, and her latest novel, The Vanishing of Class 3B, was released in May this year.  She describes her fifth novel, The Perfect Couple, as a “bit of a game changer” and today we joined her for a fascinating insight into her incredibly disciplined writing approach balanced with a part-time television career and ultra running passion! It was a pleasure to meet Jackie and hear about her life as a reporter, presenter and writer. Her books are brilliant to read and keep you guessing until the end. (Sarah Propert).
  • Saturday 1st July

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

    This talk by Martin Davies was 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.  It was a talk that would appeal to anyone who has ever enjoyed any of the stories or watched a film or followed any of the various TV series. Delivered with humour and warmth (and the opportunity to wear a deerstalker), we were taken on a journey of each version of Sherlock and the actors who played them – with so many surprises along the way!  Who knew that there were so many Sherlocks in so many different guises! Martin kept me interested throughout. He spoke so well, and I’d love to hear him again next year! A lovely venue and atmosphere. (Janet Reeves)


  • Saturday 1st July

    'Ladies of Blenheim - Lust and Laudanum'

    Blenheim Palace, home to the Dukes of Marlborough, is one of the UK’s most impressive stately homes.   Antonia Keaney first joined Blenheim Palace in 2008 as a member of the Education Team, later becoming the Palace’s Social Historian and Researcher. Beginning with Sarah Churchill, the indomitable First Duchess, and continuing through the centuries with the adventures of some of her successors, this thoroughly engaging talk gave us an entertaining and amusing peep into the lives and loves of the ladies of the Marlborough family. Beautifully delivered and with a wealth of detail, this was a talk the audience thoroughly enjoyed, with many hoping for a return visit from Antonia. Wonderful. “History with a light touch!” (John Dickman)


  • Saturday 1st July

    '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. In this thoroughly engaging talk, Spohie shared her fascination for ‘mystery’, how this is woven into the complex architecture of her writing and builds to such surprising crescendos. In addition to works of her own devising, Sophie has written self-help books and a series of four novels based on Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot. We heard how with sheer amazement and delight, Sophie was 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. Such a warm and informative talk, delivered with humour and honesty – and a brilliant way to conclude the second full day of our Festival weekend! “This was a lovely small and intimate event. Clear, fun and structured but ‘off the cuff’. Great question and answer session too.” (Joe and Lucy)


  • Sunday 2nd July

    WORKSHOP: 'Creative Non-Fiction'

    In 2022 Simon Whaley delivered a great workshop on Travel Writing.  He returned today for a workshop on Creative Non-Fiction, which was not about making up facts! Instead, it was about being creative in how we convey those facts. This two-hour workshop explored four creative non-fiction techniques that should make our true stories read like fiction!


  • Sunday 2nd July

    An Afternoon with Joanna Cannon

    We were thrilled to welcome back Joanna Cannon’, bestselling author of ‘The Trouble with Goats and Sheep’, ‘Three Things About Elsie’ and ‘A Tidy Ending’. On this occasion, Festival Patron and local author Helen Yendall talked to Joanna mainly about her two latest books:  ”Will You Read This Please?’ – and her latest novel ‘A Tidy Ending’. 

    ‘Will You Read This, Please?’ Edited by Joanna, the 12 stories told in this collection are powerful, resonant and heart-breaking, based on the lived experience of people who have faced mental illness in the UK. ‘Some people who deal with mental illness have the opportunity and ability to write about it, but many do not – and it was those people, those unread stories, I wanted to find.’ Joanna.

    ‘A Tidy Ending’: Linda lives a nice, normal life, on a nice, normal street with Terry, her perfectly ordinary husband. However, as Joanna explained, nothing on Cavendish Avenue is quite as it seems and some secrets can’t stay buried forever! 

  • Sunday 2nd July

    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 became a household name for ‘The Big Impression’ but has also worked extensively in theatre, in the West End, and performed voices for the TV series ‘Spitting Image’. More recently he has proved to be an accomplished classical pianist, with ‘The Piano Show’ combining comedy, and “some remarkably sensitive keyboard recital pieces.”

    On this occasion though, Alistair shared his love of poetry, performing poems he has treasured (and some he penned himself) which he wove into the story of his life to date.  This was a truly wonderful evening from an inspired and inspiring entertainer, poems beautifully read,  punctuated with moments ranging from sheer hilarity to heart rending sensitivity. A fantastic culmination to our main Festival Weekend. “Absolutely wonderful! A magical evening”. Sheila Sage. “I really enjoyed it – and I’m going to go straight home now and look up Henry Normal!” Claire


  • Saturday 8th July

    '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 had an incredibly warm and characterful story to tell her audience today 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. Sue recalled 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, Sue shared a host of stories between then and now.  A really good joint event with Harvington Festival, enjoyed by all. (Sue Ablett)
  • Wednesday 26th July

    'The Great Train Robbery - 60 Years On'

    2023 marks the 60th Anniversary of The Great Train Robbery, 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.   

    Ian Boskett 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?  How did the gang tamper with the signals? This evening, Ian told the story, gave a live demonstration and shared fascinating local connections with the heist – how one of the escape flights out of the country took off from an airfield here in Worcestershire! What a superb talk! Brilliantly pitched and delivered. Informative and entertaining. We both thoroughly enjoyed it. (Noelle Chambers)

  • Saturday 5th August

    ''Bikes and Books''

    Sadly, but not surprisingly, a very low turn out of cyclists in very poor weather conditions, meant that this event in conjunction with Cycle Evesham Vale, did not take place. It will, however, be re-scheduled for 2024 and be a unique opportunity to celebrate a love of biking with a love of books. Led by local cycling star, Helen Russell, join us then for a 20-mile social cycle ride, starting at Evesham Velo Park and finishing at Raphael’s Restaurant, via Dumbleton Hall and Bredon Hill with their literary connections including Mrs Gaskell and Charles Dickens. 
    Local cycling star Helen Russell and Phil (rear marker for the ride).



  • Saturday 26th August

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

    Nestled down in the beautiful riverside setting of Raphael’s Restaurant, we took a fabulous flight through birdwatching history, feathered with birdsong and laughter. We shared the preparations for Springwatch coming to RSPB Shrikewing nature reserve, where Jess, the Reserve Warden, was starting to feel that protecting birds from human interference might just be impossible.  Another wonderful open air event from the Mikron Theatre team – when the rain didn’t start until near the end.“One of the best Mikron events I’ve been to. The script was fantastic as were the performances of the cast. Very clever, thought provoking and incredibly entertaining.”
    (Sue Ablett)


  • Friday 13th October

    'SS Suevic - A Tale of Shipwreck and Survival'

    Another excellent talk and 2-course lunch at Holland HouseGalen Bartholomew’s illustrated talk told the story of how the SS Suevic ran aground; the dramatic circumstances of the rescue; the salvage and rebuilding of the ship 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 truly remarkable tale of shipwreck and survival – and still the largest number of people rescued by the RNLI in a single operation.
  • Monday 30th October

    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’, for Revd Pete Hobson this was a once in a lifetime project with no precedent to follow – with the interests of many parties to include and the eyes of the world watching very closely! An absolutely fascinating presentation, detailing the complex negotiations and planning surrounding the journey of King Richard’s remains from grave to final resting place. “We absolutely loved Holland House as the perfect venue and thought that lunch (food, service, ambience etc) was superb. It was all amazing value; a brilliant talk,  incredibly well organised and  so friendly!” (Joanne Cathcart)

  • Saturday 18th November

    'Mrs Churchill - My Life with Winston'

    They say that behind every great man, there is a great woman.  Was this true in Winston Churchill’s case, who had said that, “my most brilliant achievement was my ability to be able to persuade my wife to marry me.” So did he dominate her like he did so many other people?  Was he as grumpy and irascible at home as he was in the political world and did she have any influence on him at all?  Or was she the little lady at home?

    This evening, in the beautiful setting of St Peter’s Church Bengeworth, Liz Grand’s superb, moving and informative portrayal of Clementine transported us into the heart of her married and family life, through triumphs and heartache and alongside the political life she so closely shared with the great man. An outstanding performance and marvellous script, seemlessly sustained throughout and delivered with such sensitivity and accurate historical reference.  (Lynn Lucchese)

  • Saturday 9th December

    'A Christmas Carol'

    Don’t Go Into The Cellar offer an original take on traditional Victorian and Edwardian literature – perfect for people seeking good old-fashioned theatrical entertainment!  This evening we joined the great Victorian novelist, Charles Dickens, as he brought 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 starred as Dickens in this fabulous one-man performance, co-directed by Goodwin and Gary Archer.  “Absolutely amazing performance. I do hope he’ll be coming back again next year. (Sue Ablett)

Secured By miniOrange