Griff Rhys Jones, Civic Voice president to speak at Gloucester History Festival

With Gloucester’s impressive heritage and recent investment from the Heritage Lottery Fund in a number of major projects including Project Pilgrim at the Cathedral, Project DeCrypt and our own Gloucestershire Archives, it is good news that the Gloucester History Festival is growing and will celebrate the 800th anniversary of the coronation of Henry III in St Peter’s Abbey, in style.

There will be a dramatic re-enactment of his coronation, the only one to take place outside of Westminster or Winchester. This highlight event on Saturday, 10th September, will feature the coronation procession, medieval celebrations at the Cathedral, and the opening event of the Blackfriars Talks given by broadcaster Marc Morris. Dr Janina Ramirez, Oxford University and BBC historian and President of the Gloucester History Festival will be speaking on Sunday 11th with other prominent historians.

The Festival launches on 3 September with the traditional colourful Gloucester Day Parade, organised by the Town Crier, Alan Myatt. This event celebrates the lifting of the Civil war Siege of Gloucester in 1643, when Charles I, who was camped nearby at Matson House, was forced to flee. The Festival features over 100 events and activities across the city for all ages and interests including City Voice events featuring local artists and performers, Blackfriars Talks, guided walks, music, family events and Heritage Open Days.

Among one of the most unusual City Voices events is the workshop “The Age of Gold” which will allow you to learn how to apply gold leaf to your own artwork.

Since the Ancient Egyptians gold leaf has been used in art as the ultimate symbol of the sacred.

This year the Blackfriars Talks, in the beautiful, 13th century Dominican Priory in the centre of the city, will celebrate the anniversaries of Henry III, The Battles of Jutland and the Somme, Shakespeare at 400 and themes including Women and History, Ancient Warriors/Ancient Worlds and World Wars I & II. Acclaimed speakers this year include, Nick Jellicoe on the 100 th anniversary of the Battle of Jutland, Alison Weir on Katherine of Aragon, Durmot Turing on Alan Turing and the Enigma Code,

Phil Moss on Medieval Gloucester and Jung Chang, author of the phenomenal best seller, Wild Swans, talking about The Empress Dowager Cixi.

And events with a Gloucester connection include talks by Mark Gatiss, the well- known actor screenwriter and co-creator of Sherlock, much of which was filmed in Gloucester; a special visit from Andrew Salmon who is based in Seoul to talk about the Battle of Imjin River, to mark the 65 th Anniversary of the extraordinary bravery of the “Glorious Glosters” in the Korean War; and no Gloucester History Festival would be complete without our local historian Phil Moss who this year will be speaking on Gloucester in the time of Shakespeare.

Gloucester Heritage Open Days, part of the History Festival on 8-11 September, will offer unique opportunities to see inside the rarely opened King’s Bastion, view the Elizabethan wall friezes in private rooms of the Dick Whittington pub, visit the scriptorium at Blackfriars Priory, where the original timbers from the Forest of Dean are still part of the scissor-brace roof. You can also experience heritage in action by visiting the Stonemason’s Yard where wonderful stonework for the Cathedral is created, and Tommi Nielsen’s Dry Docks where traditional wooden vessels are restored. During Heritage Open Days admission to these and many more hidden architectural treasures is free!

Civic Voice president, Griff Rhys Jones is set to speak at this year's Gloucester History Festival on 17th September from 8pm - 9pm. Join him to hear about the historic buildings he loves and his fascinating adventure discovering the real Wales and its hidden treasures told in his book Insufficiently Welsh. Tickets are available using the details in the notes section.

The full programme of the 2016 Gloucester History Festival is available on-line at where you can also sign up for further information or from the Gloucester Tourist Information Centre on 01452 396572.

A video of Janina Ramirez introducing the magnificent Blackfriars Priory is also available to watch on the website. Dr. Janina Ramirez, President, Gloucester History Festival said: “ As an art historian of the medieval period, Gloucester is a paradise for me and last year, I was invited to speak at the Festival in the magnificent surroundings of Blackfriars Priory. So, I was thrilled to take on being President of the Festival and invite more historians to join in the fun at Blackfriars.”

Donna Renney, of the History Festival Committee said: “There is just so much heritage to see in Gloucester, it is awe-inspiring. It is one of the top ten historic cities in the country, so if you have not explored Gloucester, put the History Festival dates in your diary.”

Richard Graham, MP, said: “The Romans called Gloucester the City of Light and the aim of our Festival is to make our magnificent heritage come alive for today’s generation and shine a light towards the future.”


1. The Blackfriars Talks were set up by Richard Graham, the MP, in 2011. More recently music has been added, programmed in many of the City’s churches by the singer and former Mayor of Gloucester, Sebastian Field.

2. The Festival is organised by Gloucester History Committee chaired by Richard Graham and comprising representatives of the Civic Trust, Marketing Gloucester, Blackfriars Priory, Guildhall, and Gloucestershire Archives. A new charity, GUST, formed by the former CEO of Cheltenham Festivals, Donna Renney co-ordinates the activities. The Festival is supported with a grant from the City Council but aims to attract more than double the Council grant in sponsorship, grants and ticket sales.

3. Festival President, Dr. Janina Ramirez is currently the course director on the Certificate in History of Art at Oxford University's Department for Continuing Education. Janina gained a degree in English literature, specialising in Old and Middle English, from St Anne's College, Oxford, before completing her PhD at the Centre for Medieval Studies, University of York. Her long line of successful documentaries include, Treasures of the Anglo-Saxons, The Viking Sagas; Britain’s Most Fragile Treasure; Illuminations: The Private Lives of Medieval Kings; Chivalry and Betrayal: The Hundred Years’ War; Architects of the Divine: The First Gothic Age; and, Saints and Sinners: Britain’s Millennium of Monasteries. Her most recent book is The Private Lives of the Saints, Power Passion and Politics in Anglo-Saxon England.

4. Henry III was the only English monarch to have been crowned outside Westminster or Winchester. Janina Ramirez will be speaking on Sunday, 11th September in Blackfriars Priory.

5. Sign up for more information about the Gloucester History Festival at: or call Gloucester Tourist Information Centre on 01452 396572 to request a free brochure. Tickets will be on sale from 25 July.

For any further information, please call Donna Renney on 0782 432 5116.