GeorgeFest is back this summer with a two-week festival celebrating the market town of Richmond’s rich Georgian heritage.
Taking place between Saturday 12 August and Sunday 26 August, GeorgeFest17 offers a wide range of events and activities from gin tasting and bell-ringing to theatrical community performances and ghost walks.
Many of the events are free of charge and have been organised by the Welcome to Richmond Group, a sub-group of the Richmond Business and Tourism Association made up of the town’s key visitor attractions and representatives of the local business community to encourage tourism to the area.
It is the festival’s third year and many of the events and activities build upon the success of previous GeorgeFests with a host of new opportunities for 2017 designed to bring this exciting period of history to life.
Starting off the programme is the rare chance to look round one of the town’s most recognised buildings – Culloden Tower. Now let as a holiday residence by The Landmark Trust, this impressive Georgian folly is normally closed for public viewing but when it opened its doors for last year’s festival over 900 people took the opportunity to visit. The Landmark Trust is holding two open days on Saturday 12 and Sunday 13 August (10am to 4pm). Admission to the property is free and no booking is required.
The history of Culloden Tower will be the subject of one of the many themed talks taking place throughout the festival. Caroline Stanford, Landmark Trust historian and author of Landmark: A History of Britain in 50 Buildings, will reveal the fascinating story of the monument and other Landmark properties in an illustrated talk held at The Georgian Theatre Royal.
Other talks by equally eminent speakers will include an insight into Georgian life in a country house by Kiplin Hall’s curator Dawn Webster; the battle over Shakespeare in the 18th century by Professor Tiffany Stern of Royal Holloway, University of London; the pursuit of pleasure by Hannah Phillip, Director of York’s Fairfax House; and a dramatic presentation by The History Wardrobe celebrating Jane Austen’s wicked women.
New to this year’s festival is an evening of gin at the King’s Head Hotel. The hotel is one of the many impressive Georgian buildings lining the town’s cobbled market place and the event will include a talk, tastings and even Georgian-themed canapés! Another festival first is the opportunity to visit the ringing chamber of St Mary’s Church and get up-close-and-personal with the newly installed historic bells (including one from the Georgian period).
There are several walks taking place during the fortnight to showcase the many 18th century features of the town’s landscape, including a walk by local historian Jane Hatcher that will look at buildings associated with some of Richmond’s most notable Georgian characters; a walking tour of Temple Grounds and the landscaped area around Culloden Tower; ghost walks to entertain the family with stories of the supernatural; and a series of town walks organised by the Richmondshire Museum. For those interested in looking at the town’s Georgian landmarks through the lens of a camera, there will be a couple of photography workshops with local photographer Guy Carpenter.
Throughout the festival, there will be daily tours of the Georgian Theatre Royal – the UK’s oldest working theatre in its original form – conducted by guides dressed in period costume. The Theatre will also host several talks and theatrical events including a spectacular community performance of The Fortress on the Danube, a hit melodrama from 1805 by Guilbert de Pixerécourt and an Evening of Georgian Theatre Ballads that bring tales of romance, crime and comedy back to the stage where they were originally performed.
“We hope that as many people as possible will come to Richmond during the festival which offers an incredibly diverse and fascinating programme,” said Lynda Powell, Chair of the Welcome to Richmond Group and Director of the Green Howards Museum.
“We are incredibly proud of the town’s rich Georgian heritage and GeorgeFest17 is designed to dig beneath the fine 18th century architecture and physical landmarks for which the town is so famous and enable people to discover more about the Georgians themselves. How people lived, what they did in their leisure time, and even what they ate and drank will all be revealed at the many events and activities on offer,” she added.
The main events and activities are featured in a GeorgeFest17 leaflet that has been distributed around the area and there is a GeorgeFest17 page with full event details at www.richmond.org/georgefest