The Festival

This autumn sees the launch of the very first BBC History Magazine weekend festival, in the ancient hilltop town of Malmesbury in Wiltshire. It is one of the oldest boroughs in England and is also the burial place of Æthelstan, grandson of Alfred and the first king of all England. The abbey that houses his tomb is Malmesbury’s crowning glory. In 1000 AD, Eilmer the flying monk had 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 in the town in 1703. The 17th-century philosopher Thomas Hobbes was born in Malmesbury, so it’s an ideal venue for a history festival.

More than 20 top-name historians will be speaking over the course of the weekend in two lecture rooms in Malmesbury’s Town Hall, and inside Malmesbury Abbey. There will be a fully-stocked history bookshop, courtesy of Waterstones Cirencester, within the Town Hall for the duration of the festival, where our speakers will be signing books.

The lecture rooms

Malmesbury Town Hall is in the centre of Malmesbury, with a short-stay car park located directly in front of it. It has a café and museum downstairs, plus an art gallery, a tourist information centre and toilet facilities. The upstairs part of the Town Hall will be taken over by BBC History Magazine for the weekend. Aside from the two lecture rooms, there will also be the history book shop, a BBC History Magazine information stand, and a café/bar area, along with a place for eating your own picnic food if you wish. The upper floor of the Town Hall is served by a lift and disabled access is possible to both lecture rooms.

Some lectures will also be held within Malmesbury Abbey, which is two minutes walk from the Town Hall. 

Venue facilities

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

Venue Accessibility

The venue is accessible to those with disabilities



Book today...

Tickets are available now. You can buy tickets for individual lectures, or buy day passes for Saturday and Sunday. If you’re a BBC History Magazine subscriber, you’ll get a discount on the price.

About Malmesbury

It is the oldest borough in England, with a charter given by Alfred the Great in 880. It’s also the burial place of Æthelstan, grandson of Alfred and the first king of all England, and the abbey that houses his tomb is Malmesbury’s crowning glory. It’s a great place for us to stage our first history weekend.

BBC History Magazine

BBC History Magazine is Britain’s bestselling history magazine. We cover all aspects of the past, and all periods and places, but with a focus on Britain’s story. Inside you’ll find leading historians giving an approachable take on the latest research, and new angles on subjects you thought you knew.