The recent storms ruined dozens of festivals across the British Isles, including the English Heritage Festival of History at Kelmarsh Hall, which had to be cancelled after overnight downpours left the site totally flooded and unusable.
Summer festivals aren’t just about music; they can be cultural too. The Festival of History is the largest historical event in Europe, with re-enactments of key events from history just one of the attractions. WWII flypasts, Victorian gymkhanas, falconry displays, craft demonstrations, steam fairs and story-telling are all part of the fun.
For the past eight years, the Festival of History has been held in the grounds of Kelmarsh Hall, Northamptonshire, about 160 miles from the Ribble Valley. With antique dining tables , open bookcases and other effects by Thomas Chippendale and Robert Adam on display in the house, the grounds are the perfect venue. This year’s festival was due to take place on 14th and 15th July, but English Heritage was forced to pull the plug at the eleventh hour, when it became plain how serious the flooding was. The weekend wasn’t a total wash-out, however, since as well as getting their money back, ticket holders also got free admission to all the English Heritage properties in the area. Kelmarsh Hall is not owned by the charity, but Audley End, Kirby Hall and Wrest Park are, each with plenty of antique marquetry furniture to see.
In Cumbria, torrential rain is a fact of life, but residents can cheer themselves up by visiting a nearby antiques dealer. In Preston, a Victorian balloon backed dining chair or antique chest in the Adams style can be bought at reasonable cost.
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