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Top 10 Events to Meet the Experts

This is your chance to hear it from the experts themselves! Bones, books and the Borgias are just some of the topics on offer – there’s so much to learn during this year’s festival, whether your interest lies in history, science or nature. Here’s just a taste of some of the great expert-led events coming up.

A talk on the history of the garden gnome at Headstone Manor - who could say no?

Unearth the history of these bones

The Ossuary Expert Talk - Barton Upon Humber, Lincolnshire

Visit St Peter’s Church in Burton Upon Humber, Lincolnshire, for a unique glimpse into its ossuary, led by the church’s English Heritage curator. Archaeological excavations of the site in the 1970s and ‘80s unearthed thousands of skeletons which were placed into the ossuary in 2007, remaining in consecrated ground close to their original location, whilst still allowing for future study. A fascinating history is just waiting to be discovered on these tours.

Hear it from the historians 

Various events in Winchester, Hampshire

Winchester are hosting a number of great talks with historians and researchers. Hear one of the world’s leading Anglo-Saxon experts, Professor Simon Keynes from Trinity College, Cambridge, discuss the role of two royal charters given by King Edgar in 966 and Canute in 1016 to New Minster. Listen to four experts on four medieval queens, spanning four centuries – from Empress Matilda to Elizabeth Woodville. Historian and author Samantha Morris will lead a talk into the Borgias, famed for their incest, intrigue and murder. Or, if early modern history is of more interest, join Rebecca Rideal, a specialist factual TV producer and writer, as she reveals more about Charles I’s regicide in January 1649. 

Speak to the head gardener of these beautiful plants! © - Bishop Burton College

Find the garden behind the wall

Bishop Burton Walled Garden - Beverley, East Riding of Yorkshire

With a fascinating and long history, Bishop Burton Walled Garden is well worth a visit. Judging by the brickwork, it’s estimated that the existing walled garden dates from the 18th century. The head gardener will be on hand to answer any and all questions about the garden, its plants and the site’s illustrious history.

How much do you know about garden gnomes?

The History of the Garden Gnome - Harrow, London

From the original renaissance statues to Black Forest dwarfs and Victorian collectors, the history of the garden gnome will be the focus in this fascinating and unique talk. Dr Twigs Way, a researcher in historic gardens and designed landscapes, will reveal all on these perhaps underappreciated ornaments, taking place at the Grade II listed Great Barn at Headstone Manor and Museum, which is usually closed to the public.

Open the page to the book makers of the past

The Manuscripts and Rare Books of the Parker Library - Cambridge, Cambridgeshire

Discover the art of medieval book making at a library internationally renowned for its incredible collection of medieval and renaissance manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts will be on display at the Parker Library’s Collections, while experts from the Conservation Consortium will be on hand to show how these books were made and explain how they are cared for today to ensure their continued survival. 

Find out how these spectacular manuscripts were created at Cambridge's Parker Library

Discover Norwich’s textile history

Philippa Court, Boswell's Yard - Norwich, Norfolk

The importance of Norwich in the textile industry catapulted the city to prominence in the medieval and early modern periods. Visit Philippa Court in Boswell’s Yard for a step back into this past. Philippa Court was a key building in 18th century Norwich as a purpose-built textile manufactory and bombazine warehouse. It was also the home of sociologist and Whig writer Harriet Martineau. Uncover its eclectic history with a talk from two researchers of the building, Charlotte Bird and Liz Hollis.

Saving lives at sea for 150 years

Shoreham Lifeboat Station - Shoreham-by-the-Sea, West Sussex 

Learn the ins and outs of the work of Shoreham's lifeguards © - Shoreham Lifeboat RNLI

Shoreham Lifeboat Station has been saving lives at sea for over 150 years. Take a jam-packed tour of the station, moving from the crew training room to the lifeboats used, with the chance to try on the kit worn by members of the crew. The tour will be conducted by knowledgeable volunteer visit guides who can answer all your burning questions about the work of this crucial site.

Take a (bat) walk to remember

Bat Walk - Cirencester, Gloucestershire

What better way to spend an evening than in the company of bats? Take an expert-led walk in Cirencester focused on the local bat population: watch as they fly and discover the different species of bats that populate the area, as well as the equipment used to identify them.

Explore the intricacies of the brain

Department of Experimental Psychology - Oxford, Oxfordshire

For more of a scientific focus, a visit to the Cognitive Neurology Lab at Oxford’s Department of Experimental Psychology will definitely be of interest. Speak to the researchers themselves and unravel the mysteries of the brain through demonstrations on MRI scans and the use of the newly-developed cognitive assessments.


Delve into your family history with the Society of Genealogists

Uncover your ancestry

Society of Genealogists - Islington, London 

If the recent series of Who Do You Think You Are? has piqued your interest in your own family tree, get ready to explore your ancestry with the Society of Genealogists this September, with expert help and access to library tours at the society’s research library in London all on offer.

Have a taste of award-winning wines

Hattingley Valley Talk and Wine Tasting - Winchester, Hampshire

And one for luck, as we couldn't resist... Find out how Hattingley Valley in Hampshire makes their internationally recognised sparkling wines. At this family owned and managed vineyard and winery, there is the chance to taste the award-winning wines, with the wine-making team led by Emma Rice, who was named Winemaker of the Year in both 2014 and 2016.

Find out more…