24th–30th June 2024 - Broad Chalke, Salisbury


An opportunity to sample the sights, sounds and smells of the past.

Our living history encampments range from the Stone Age through to the Second World War and offer an opportunity to sample the sights, sounds and smells of the past. Our historians are all experts in their field and are actively learning more about our predecessors from the process of living with and using the materials of earlier ages.

There will be a number of scheduled talks and displays but all our living historians are happy to talk at any time and share their extraordinary – and often unique – knowledge. 

Our Vast Array Of Living History Includes:

Remaking History: The Prittlewell Burial

In 2003, archaeologists made an extraordinary discovery at a plot in Prittlewell, near Southend-on-Sea. They uncovered an Anglo-Saxon princely burial chamber, filled with rare artefacts including a gold belt buckle, gaming counters, a huge cauldron and a wooden lyre. This year, our extraordinarily skilled craftspeople will be remaking history by recreating the burial chamber and some of the burial goods discovered at Prittlewell. This will be an absolutely unique opportunity to see heritage crafts in action and to discover the historical insights that practical craftsmanship can bring. Make sure to follow their progress throughout the week!  

Historic Equitation

We are thrilled to be joined by Historic Equitation, a team of historical interpreters and equestrians led by renowned horseman, Dominic Sewell. Historic Equitation will be at the festival all week demonstrating the social, economic and military importance of horses throughout history, from the rise of the mounted knight to the spectacular horsemanship of the 17th century. Don’t miss their showstopping arena display on Saturday and Sunday! 

Building Houses in the Iron Age  

Based in our Iron Age round house, experiential archaeologist and living history interpreter Caroline Nicolay will be demonstrating Iron Age daily life and traditional construction methods. Drawing on archaeology and traditional building techniques from Britain, Caroline will be using local construction materials from the Chalke Valley area and investigating how they can be used to create walls, floors and roofs.

The 17th-Century Sailmaker 

Led by professional sailmaker and craftsperson Sarah Liscoe, this fascinating display will portray a travelling master sailmaker tending to ships, fishing boats, and windmills. This is a rare opportunity to see the typical skills of making and repairing sails, rope work, and life on board a ship in the 17th century. There will also be a chance to get hands on with a working model of a sailing square sail rig, knots and rope work, and sewing. 

A Merrie Noyse 

A Merrie Noyse will be transporting us back to the Tudor and Elizabethan courts as they entertain us with historic music and dance, playing a variety of authentic copies of instruments of the day. 

The Time Travellers Kitchen

Discover the 3,141-year history of pie with Alex Compiani at The Time Travellers Kitchen. Set in the Pudding Pye Lane Bakery of 1666, journey through an entertaining and interactive discussion of the development of pies from the ancient Greeks to London of the 1950s. Learn how trade, war, work and fashion influenced the great pies of royal banquets to the not so savoury pies of street peddlers. Could 14th-century pie ovens have been the first food delivery services? And how did a small bakery destroy half of London? 

Swords from Stones: Making an Iron Age Sword 

What did it take to make a sword in Iron Age Britain? Join archeologist Emma Harrison and professional bladesmith Tom Timbrell as they work on recreating an Iron Age sword. In their workshop near the round house and using techniques from 2500 years ago, Emma and Tom will demonstrate the work required to produce such an iconic item—from smelting the iron in a furnace and layering the metal to give it strength, to hardening the blade and fitting the handle. Be sure to check on their progress throughout the week and discover how iron working technology spread across Europe and how it shaped pre-Roman Britain.

The Wimborne Militia

In June 1685, the Duke of Monmouth – the illegitimate son of Charles II – landed at Lyme Regis in Dorset with the bold aim of overthrowing the Catholic King James II. During the festival weekend, the Wimborne Militia will be revealing what life was like in the militia at the time of Monmouth’s Rebellion. Don’t miss their incredible collection of 17th-century artillery.

The Napoleonic Wars

Whinyates Troop will be offering an insight into the life of the artillery soldier during the Napoleonic Wars, plus sharing the fascinating development of the Congreve rocket in the early nineteenth century.

Medieval Encampment

During the festival weekend, our medieval encampment will reconstruct military and civilian life during the twelfth to the fifteenth centuries. This will be an opportunity to explore a rich tapestry of history, from weaponry and military skills to crafts and cookery, portrayed by living history groups Buckingham’s Retinue, The Medieval Free Company, Chanz des Reis and Sundry Folk.

First World War

At the weekend, living history group On War Service will be bringing to life the history of ordinary people who served in the First World War, from the experiences of the infantry to wartime medicine.

Cold War

The Ramsdell Collection will be returning to Chalke with their incredible collection of Cold War vehicles, telling the story of Ptarmigan – the Army’s mobile, wide area communications system used in the 1980s and 90s.

The Tudor Kitchen

Step into Jane’s Historical Kitchen and discover how food was prepared and served during the Tudor period. Jane will be making everything from bread and pies to the Tudor favourite, Jumbals.