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Tavistock Heritage Festival


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Tavistock Heritage Festival is returning for 2016, bringing a range of fantastic events and attractions to the town.

Supported by the Rotary Club of Tavistock, the Festival which runs from Thursday 15th September to Monday 19th September, will once again be celebrating the arts, music, culture, history, and community spirit of Tavistock by bringing together a host of talented performers, historians, artisans and re-enactor’s to create unforgettable experiences and learning - whatever your age and whatever your interests.

Geri Parlby, Chair of the Festival said:

Last year’s Festival was our first and it was another great success, with hundreds of visitors enjoying events throughout the town and beyond.  This year we will be collaborating with Morwellham Vintage, Folk and Miniature steam festival, making our festival bigger, better and more iconic than ever!”

Throughout the weekend there will be living history events throughout the town courtesy of the Ragged Victorians.  On Friday afternoon the library will be running a ‘spooky stories' storytelling session then on Saturday and Sunday there will be a sword school on the Church green where you can learn the ancient art of medieval sword fighting.  In the Bedford Square marquee there will be shield painting and playing Elizabethan musical instruments,  Also on the Church Green and Bedford Hotel garden there will be tales of Francis Drake’s adventures on the high seas along with walking tours looking at the history, legends and flora and fauna of the town courtesy of Tavistock History Society and Ian Lycett-King.

The Festival also boasts an impressive range of speakers and performers. Friday evening will be the official launch with renowned art historian Professor Sam Smiles appearing at the Bedford Hotel to talk about J.M.W. Turner’s artist adventures in Tavistock and the Tamar Valley.  Professor Smiles has written extensively on the work of Turner as well as co-curating the exhibition 'Late Turner: Painting Set Free' at the Tate Britain.  His talk is being sponsored by the South Devon Decorative & Fine Arts Society.

On Saturday morning Morwellham Quay will be coming to Tavistock with a talk on the links between Tavistock and this historical port, village and Copper Mine. The talk is followed by free entry to Morwellham Quay on Sunday 1st November and a free village tour and talk on the train as it goes through the George & Charlotte Copper Mine.

In the afternoon the President of the Devonshire Association, Dr Tom Greeves will be giving a talk at St Eustachius' Church on the local myths and legends around the ‘Three Hares’ . Dr Greeves is a cultural environmentalist and since the 1980s he has been investigating the motif of three hares (or rabbits) following each other in an everlasting circle. The symbol occurs in 17 churches in Devon, as a roof boss, but has now been traced across the Old World to 7th century China. Dr Greeves will be publishing a new book on the ‘Three Hares’ mystery later this year.

If you think that old folk songs and Dartmoor legends are fusty  bygones best left in the museum then think again! Folk legend Geoff Lakeman is back again by popular demand and this time he and his friends will be " Kicking up the Dust." in St Eustachius' Church. So to quote the great man himself:

“Dust off your dancing shoes, swill out your vocal chords with real ale and  get ready to holler fit-to-bust.  We will be bringing the real Dartmoor into the heart of Tavistock for this unique night of home-grown music, dance and comedy. Devon folk songs - old and new - from the likes of Jim Causley, Geoff Lakeman and Bill Murray, barn-storming tunes from the nationally-famous Dartmoor Pixie Band,  lusty farmyard humour from a clutch of true west country characters- and unique Dartmoor step and broom dances from champion young steppers. As the saying goes: ‘How ya gonna keep 'em down on the Farm - once they've seen Taveeee...?’"

On Sunday the Pannier Market will be hosting the excellent Heritage Artisan market organised by Miss Ivy Events with traders from across the two counties.

Throughout the day some of the county’s finest Morris Dance Teams will be kicking up their heels in Bedford Square alongside Robey Trust’s historic steam engines.  

In the morning Myfanwy Cook of the Historical Novel Society will be leading  an Historical Fiction Creative Workshop in the Parish Rooms on the them ‘The Vicarage, Abbey House and The Bedford Hotel – Homes and Hostelry, History and Characters’     

In the afternoon, also in the Parish Rooms, Festival Chairman and art historian Dr Geri Parlby will be giving a talk on the involvement of 19th Century designer William Morris with the Devon Great Consols Mine and the arsenic controversy of the Victorian era.   In the evening the Wharf will be joining forces with Tavistock Museum to present archive film footage of Tavistock of Yesteryear

On Monday lunchtime the Friends of the Wharf will also be hosting a talk on 1000 Year History of Tavistock with local historian Andrew Thompson.

The Festival will have its grand finale on Monday evening when Devon born historian and author Dr Matthew Kelly will be talking about his new best selling book Quartz and Feldspar. Dartmoor: A British Landscape in Modern Times a history of Dartmoor, home of myth and legend, Druids, prisoners and ponies.

This year the Festival has made Dartmoor Rescue their chosen charity with collecting tins at all the public events so please give generously.