Gloucestershire Heritage Hub

Festival Fizz

There was a real buzz in Gloucester during the first two weeks in September whilst this year’s annual History Festival was underway. The programme offered something for everyone, ranging from talks by prominent speakers to hands on family fun. It also gave people the chance to visit many of the city’s magnificent heritage locations.  And Gloucestershire Heritage Hub played a key role in making it all happen. 

Speakers, Janina Ramirez, Tony Robinson, Dan Snow, Anita Rani, David Olusoga, Alison Weir, Roy Hattersley and Ken Clarke drew the crowds to Blackfriars Priory, a stunning example of medieval architecture. The Hub’s varied offer brought folks to stunning locations too:

  • Family and oral history workshops in the Chapter House at Gloucester Cathedral;
  • An audience with Polish veterans and talks by the Friends of Gloucestershire Archives at St Mary de Lode Church;
  • Friend of Gloucestershire Archives and Archives’ research room buddy, Liz Jack introducing her ancestor, Button Gwinnett and his links to the American Declaration of Independence at Down Hatherley Church; and
  • A range of events in the 13th century scriptorium and buttery at Blackfriars Priory.


Julie Courtenay, Collections Leader, explains Know Your Place to the festival audience.

Our events at Blackfriars included a workshop on reading old handwriting and a five-hour ‘Scriptorium Tag’. It was a real privilege to read old script in a medieval library where friars would have created and read similar documents.  We used torches rather than candles and I’ve made a note to self: wear thicker, monastic-style garments next time!

Time whizzed by in the Tag lecture, which saw ten Victoria County History colleagues and friends galloping through Gloucestershire’s history, from Anglo-Saxon place-names to the 20th century railways cut in Dr Beeching’s time.  I wonder if we set a record?  Certainly, the event was an unexpected evening out for a local car park user who popped in at 5.30pm to see what was going on.  He stayed on, hooked, until the event finished – five lectures and two and a half hours later. 

New to this year’s Festival was the ‘Family Day’, run by members of Gloucester Heritage Forum: Gloucester Cathedral; Llanthony Secunda Priory; Gloucester Museums; St Mary De Crypt; Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust and Gloucestershire Archives, representing the Hub. This was the Forum’s first go at a collaborative visitor engagement event and activities included hands-on activities exploring Gloucestershire Police history, creating charters with quill pens and discovering the gruesome methods of medieval barber surgeons.


Creating charters with quill pens                                               Exploring Gloucestershire Police History                     The Shadow of St. Nicholas

Thank you to everyone who contributed to and attended events. We are already planning next year’s History Festival so please save the dates – 1 – 16 September 2018 – if you want to be part of the action.  If you’d like to organise or suggest an event please contact  or

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