The Festival


Venue facilities

  • Lecture rooms
  • Book shop
  • Box office
  • Café
  • Picnic space

This autumn sees the return of BBC History Magazine's History Weekend, following last year’s sell-out event. With almost twice as many speakers and two extra venues, 2014’s festival promises to be even bigger and better than last time around.

The festival takes place in the ancient hilltop town of Malmesbury in Wiltshire, which is one of the oldest boroughs in England. It is also the burial place of Æthelstan, grandson of Alfred the Great and the first king of all England. The abbey that houses his tomb is Malmesbury’s crowning glory. In around AD 1000, Eilmer the flying monk launched an early attempt at aviation from the abbey’s tower (it failed, he broke his legs), and in the churchyard is buried one Hannah Twynnoy, famously eaten by a tiger here in 1703. The town is also where the 17th-century philosopher Thomas Hobbes was born.

Close to 40 top-name historians, authors and television personalities will be speaking over the course of the weekend in Malmesbury Abbey, Malmesbury Town Hall, a special marquee and the Old Bell hotel. There will also be a fully stocked history bookshop, courtesy of Waterstones Cirencester, where our speakers will be signing books.

The festival is held under licence from BBC Worldwide who fund new BBC programmes.

Our venues

1) Malmesbury Abbey The town’s beautiful 12th-century abbey was a major site of medieval learning and is the burial place of King Æthelstan. It remains a place of worship today.

2) Cloister Gardens We will be setting up a marquee in the grounds of the historic abbey.

3) The Old Bell Said to be England’s oldest hotel, the Old Bell dates back to the 13th century.

4) Malmesbury Town Hall The Victorian town hall recently underwent a major refurbishment programme. As well as lecture rooms, it hosts the Æthelstan Museum.

Our venues are a short level walk from one another. They will be in operation at different times of the weekend, and talks will be happening concurrently at certain times. You will be advised of the location of each talk when you receive your tickets in the post. There is disabled access as well as hearing loops at all of our venues. If you require special assistance, please advise us when booking.