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  • Writer's pictureWill Topley

The Chalke Valley History Festival 2017

CVHF logo

For the past 3 years I have been lucky enough to be invited to draw speakers at the Daily Mail Chalke Valley History Festival. The history festival, or CVHF is perhaps the only literary festival in Britain to be focused purely on history which is surprising given the number and popularity of literary festivals now. It is well run and has a veritable army of volunteers who keep the show on the road come what may. Last year the skies opened and the festival deeply resembled a night on the Somme with speakers and punters all wearing Wellington boots and joking together in a fashion that reminded one of the spirit of the Blitz. This year it is at a different sight, still in the Chalke Valley but possibly less likely to flood. The setting is stunning.

Most of the speakers have a book to sell so they have a bit of incentive to come as there is a Waterstone’s tent where they do a book signing and flog a few copies of their book. At any given moment there are generally three talks going on and it is a real job to choose what to see, they all look so interesting. Some I am told to do but others are free choice. As my history teacher at school was exceptionally bad at his job I have a lot of ground to make up but this helps me no end. For one thing, they are some of the most important historians of our time and many are truly great speakers who really give you a thirst to know more. I find the whole thing very inspiring.

Last night I went to see Chris Patten talking about his career and David Cannadine talking about Margaret Thatcher. The Chris Pattern drawing was really challenging as he walked to and fro in a continuous circle without pause. I had positioned myself to draw him at the lectern but for most of the talk he was hidden by it as he moved across the stage and back. Somehow I knocked something out that I am told looks like him. Not wearing glasses helped as I could get the general features without worrying too much about detail.

Chris Patten

Chris Patten

David Cannadine stayed more or less put while speaking so I managed to something a bit more detailed. The speakers talk for about 45 minuted followed by about 15 minutes of questions.

David Cannadine

David Cannadine

The festival runs from the 26th June to 2nd July. Here’s link to the programme. If you would like to come

You can buy tickets by going to or by calling 01722 781133

I will post further drawings on Instagram and Twitter under my user name Willpaint

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