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The Chalke Valley History Festival is unique, with a literary history festival, living history through the ages, and a new schools programme.  Attracting some 13,000 in only its second year in 2012, 2013 promises to be even better…

The Chalke Valley History Festival has been created to further the enjoyment and understanding of our rich and varied history. All proceeds go to the Chalke Valley History Trust, created to help further the education of history in our schools. We look forward to seeing you there…

chalk-valleyLiving History.

The Festival will become a giant encampment of living history through the ages, from Romans to the Second World War, and displayed by some of the very best re-enactors and historical interpreters in the UK.  With an air show featuring Spitfires and other warbirds, with Sword School, Have-a-Go Archery, an interactive First World War trench experience, and a battle re-enactment of the Battle of Vitoria, there will be much to see for all the family.

Literary Festival

Throughout the week, the Festival plays host to many of our most popular, passionate and leading historians, from Max Hastings and Neil Oliver, to Michael Morpurgo and Dan Snow, and from Horrible Histories through to Boris Johnson and Tom Stoppard. Covering a wide variety of subjects from Ancient Rome to the Iron Curtain and with debates, discussions, lectures, seminars and events for all the family, this is Britain’s premier History Literary Festival.

Schools Programme

Two days of history featuring a wide range of curriculum-based subjects delivered by leading and best-selling historians, including Tom Holland, Michael Burleigh and Laurence Rees. From 1066, through the Tudors and the First World War, and the rise of the Nazis to the Second World War, the programme will offer a series of lectures, seminars, living history and inter-active demonstrations to bring history alive, excite and inspire Year 10 and 12 students.

http://www.cvhf.org.uk/

The Best Tours in British History
Wessex Guided Tours – www.HisTOURies.co.uk

 

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Civilisations around the world have been celebrating the start of each new year for at least four millennia. Today, most New Year’s festivities begin on December 31st (New Year’s Eve), the last day of the Gregorian calendar, and continue into the early hours of January 1 (New Year’s Day). Common traditions include attending parties, eating special New Year’s foods, making resolutions for the new year and watching fireworks displays.

Salisbury Cathedral New Year Fireworks

Salisbury Cathedral New Year Celebration Fireworks

Early New Year’s Celebrations

The earliest recorded festivities in honor of a new year’s arrival date back some 4,000 years to ancient Babylon. For the Babylonians, the first new moon following the vernal equinox—the day in late March with an equal amount of sunlight and darkness—heralded the start of a new year. They marked the occasion with a massive religious festival called Akitu (derived from the Sumerian word for barley, which was cut in the spring) that involved a different ritual on each of its 11 days. In addition to the new year, Atiku celebrated the mythical victory of the Babylonian sky god Marduk over the evil sea goddess Tiamat and served an important political purpose: It was during this time that a new king was crowned or that the current ruler’s divine mandate was symbolically renewed.

Throughout antiquity, civilisations around the world developed increasingly sophisticated calendars, typically pinning the first day of the year to an agricultural or astronomical event. In Egypt, for instance, the year began with the annual flooding of the Nile, which coincided with the rising of the star Sirius. The first day of the Chinese new year, meanwhile, occurred with the second new moon after the winter solstice.

A move from March to January

The celebration of the new year on January 1st is a relatively new phenomenon. The earliest recording of a new year celebration is believed to have been in Mesopotamia, c. 2000 B.C. and was celebrated around the time of the vernal equinox, in mid-March. A variety of other dates tied to the seasons were also used by various ancient cultures. The Egyptians, Phoenicians, and Persians began their new year with the fall equinox, and the Greeks celebrated it on the winter solstice.

Early Roman Calendar: March 1st Rings in the New Year

The early Roman calendar designated March 1 as the new year. The calendar had just ten months, beginning with March. That the new year once began with the month of March is still reflected in some of the names of the months. September through December, our ninth through twelfth months, were originally positioned as the seventh through tenth months (septem is Latin for “seven,” octo is “eight,” novem is “nine,” and decem is “ten.”

January Joins the Calendar

The first time the new year was celebrated on January 1st was in Rome in 153 B.C. (In fact, the month of January did not even exist until around 700 B.C., when the second king of Rome, Numa Pontilius, added the months of January and February.) The new year was moved from March to January because that was the beginning of the civil year, the month that the two newly elected Roman consuls—the highest officials in the Roman republic—began their one-year tenure. But this new year date was not always strictly and widely observed, and the new year was still sometimes celebrated on March 1.

Julian Calendar: January 1st Officially Instituted as the New Year

In 46 B.C. Julius Caesar introduced a new, solar-based calendar that was a vast improvement on the ancient Roman calendar, which was a lunar system that had become wildly inaccurate over the years. The Julian calendar decreed that the new year would occur with January 1, and within the Roman world, January 1 became the consistently observed start of the new year.

Middle Ages: January 1st Abolished

In medieval Europe, however, the celebrations accompanying the new year were considered pagan and unchristian like, and in 567 the Council of Tours abolished January 1 as the beginning of the year. At various times and in various places throughout medieval Christian Europe, the new year was celebrated on Dec. 25, the birth of Jesus; March 1; March 25, the Feast of the Annunciation; and Easter.

Gregorian Calendar: January 1st Restored

In 1582, the Gregorian calendar reform restored January 1 as new year’s day. Although most Catholic countries adopted the Gregorian calendar almost immediately, it was only gradually adopted among Protestant countries. The British, for example, did not adopt the reformed calendar until 1752. Until then, the British Empire —and their American colonies— still celebrated the new year in March.

For more New Year’s features see New Year’s Traditions and Saying “Happy New Year!” Around the World.

Read more: A History of the New Year — Infoplease.com
http://www.history.com/topics/new-years

Did you know ?In order to realign the Roman calendar with the sun, Julius Caesar had to add 90 extra days to the year 46 B.C. when he introduced his new Julian calendar”

Wessex Tours – Making History!
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An adaptation of William Golding’s powerful novel dramatising the building of the spire of Salisbury Cathedral in the 14th century is full of strong performances, writes Jane Shilling.

The Spire, an adaptation of William Golding's novel of the same name, performed at Salisbury Playhouse.

The Spire, an adaptation of William Golding’s novel of the same name, performed at Salisbury Playhouse.

The spire of Salisbury cathedral rears over the city, its apex surmounted by an oddly festive bobble of red light. The novelist William Golding lived and taught in Salisbury for many years and his novel, The Spire, imagines the building of the great pinnacle — the tallest in England — which was added to the original structure in 1320, a century after the foundation stone was laid.

Its construction was a miracle of faith over physics. The land on which the cathedral stood was swampy, and the foundations seemed insufficient to support the additional weight. Golding’s novel imagines the spire as the vision of a driven man, Dean Jocelin, who believes that he has been commanded by God to build it to glorify Him and bring the congregation closer to heaven.

As in all acts of spiritual conviction, there is a fine tension between the exaltation of God and Jocelin’s sinful human pride. Golding’s novel brilliantly conveys this by means of Jocelin’s interior monologue. Roger Spottiswoode, who has adapted Golding’s novel for the stage, has a harder task.

Gareth Machin, the artistic director of the Salisbury Playhouse, sets his production on an all-but-bare black set of cloistral simplicity, beautifully lit by Philip Gladwell to define the sharp angles of stone and flesh – we see mortality as a constant haunting presence in the skulls so clearly visible beneath the actors’ skins.

Mark Meadows as Dean Jocelin is the image of a man in whom spiritual and temporal desires are irreconcilably and, in the end, fatally at war. He is able to override the doubts of his brethren at the Cathedral by sheer force of will, combined with the wealth of his aunt Lady Alison (a spirited performance by Sarah Moyle) who takes a highly pragmatic attitude to atoning for the sins of the flesh committed in her youth by putting the riches thus acquired to holy use. The scene in which she explains to her nephew the venal means by which his early preferment came about is a fine study in tragic-comic devastation.

Strong performances by the supporting cast, particularly Vincenzo Pellegrino as the master mason, Roger, animate this gallant essay in dramatising Golding’s vastly complex fiction. So powerful a presence is the cathedral in the drama that it would be perverse not to combine a visit to the play with a trip to the beautiful building that inspired it.

Full article: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/theatre/theatre-reviews/9672496/The-Spire-Salisbury-Playhouse-review.html

Link: http://www.salisburycathedral.org.uk/news.php?id=682

Until Nov 24. Tickets:             01722 329333      ;
www.salisbury playhouse.com

On Friday 16 November, 7.30pm – 9.00pm, the Dean of Salisbury, the Very Revd June Osborne, and Gareth Machin, the play’s director, can be heard in conversation as they explore Golding’s tale of Jocelin’s vision in the very location itself, sitting underneath the spire. There will also be readings from the novel and an opportunity to ask questions. Themes include: Jocelin’s vision – was it foolish or inspired? Golding’s juxtaposition of faith and science, the challenges of staging ‘The Spire’ – and the challenges of maintaining the real spire.
Tickets, £8.00 (adults) and £2.50 (students) for ‘A burning will….exploring The Spire’ are available online from http://www.salisburycathedral.org.uk here or from Salisbury Playhouse box office,            01722 320333      . All proceeds towards the Cathedral’s Major Repair Programme.

Special tower and floor tours at Salisbury Cathedral focussing on what really happened when the 6500 tonnes tower and spire were added take place on Saturdays 3, 10 and 24 November, and Monday 5, Tuesday 13 and Thursday 22 November.
‘The Spire’ tower tours, £10.00 (£8.00 concessions), begin at 2.15pm (allow 90 minutes) Pre-booking essential online at: http://www.salisburycathedral.org.uk here or telephone            01722 555156      .
Floor tours begin at 11.00am (allow 60 minutes) No booking or tickets required – just turn up. Visitors are requested to make a donation to help towards the fabric of the Cathedral.

Further information:
Salisbury Cathedral special events based on ‘The Spire’:

Sarah Flanaghan,             01722 555148       /             07771 510811       or s.flanaghan@salcath.co.uk
Salisbury Playhouse production of The Spire
Gemma Twiselton,             01722 320117       or press@salisburyplayhouse.com
Salisbury Playhouse production of The Spire can be seen from 1 – 24 November, box office            01722 320333      .

HisTOURies UK
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Saturday 13 October 2012 – Saturday 26 January 2013.

An exhibition of paintings and drawings that reflect one artist’s travels through the ancient sites of Wiltshire.  Over the last 50 years, Stonehenge and Salisbury MuseumPhilip Hughes has returned time and again to the Ridgeway, Avebury, Silbury Hill and Stonehenge.   Informed by maps, photography and electronic survey techniques, his work ranges from accurate topographical observation to abstract and emotional representation of the landscape.

The exhibition coincides with the publication of the book on Hughes’s work: Tracks: Walking the Ancient Landscapes of Britain (Thames & Hudson, 2012).

Hughes is represented by the Francis Kyle Gallery.

Salisbury Museum is based in the King’s House, a grade I listed building located opposite Salisbury Cathedral. We have a small but friendly staff, supported by over 100 volunteers. We offer a variety of services, including the opportunity to hire this unique location for corporate events and activities.

http://www.salisburymuseum.org.uk/

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Christmas Market

Salisbury will be hosting its first ever Christmas Market from 29 November. The Christmas Market will be taking place in the ancient Market Place in front of the city’s magnificent Guildhall.
55 beautiful chalets will be tempting visitors with stunning quality products, ideal for those who wish to find an ideal gift.

CSalisbury Christmas Marketome to Salisbury’s gorgeous new Christmas Market!

You will find it to be one of the prettiest, loveliest and most tasteful Christmas Markets in the country. With beautifully decorated chalets, inspiring and desirable gifts and gourmet foods, a warm welcome from stall holders, a Father Christmas Grotto, a spectacular lantern procession, and traditional music by local choirs and schools to serenade you while you shop, we hope we have all the ingredients for the perfect traditional Christmas.

Times & Dates  
Opening Times:   10am – 6pm
Daily  10am – 7pm    Thursday, Friday & Saturday

On the first day, the Christmas Market will open at 10am and stay open until 8pm with a big Opening Ceremony from 6pm onwards.   Closes: Sunday 16th December

About Salisbury:
Salisbury is located in the East of Wiltshire, right next to Salisbury Plain. Established in 1220 with a history settlement preceding this, the city was named Salesberie at this time. The first Cathedral was built around 1075. This was however re-sited. It has been said that an arrow was fired and the newer cathedral was built upon this spot! The cathedral holds an the best preserved copy of the Magna Carta 1275.

The town has a very vibrant nightlife with many lovely traditional pubs and modern bars. We cater for every age group and the town has a nice relaxed and friendly atmosphere.

There are many things to do in and around Salisbury. Only a few minutes away from the busy city centre, you can take a peaceful walk in the pleasant parkland. There are paths trailing through the water meadow. With an abundance of wildlife you are able to lose yourself in nature and view the beautiful Cathedral in the close distance. Or if you fancy a walk, meandre across the Water Meadow until you each the Old Mill. Now transformed into a restaurant and hotel!

Salisbury is also very close to the ancient Stonehenge! With a history dating back well over 5000 years, the Henge attracts many visitors each year and is an obvious pace of our proud English Heritage

For full details please visit www.salisburychristmasmarket.co.uk
Tourist Information: http://salisburytouristinformation.co.uk/

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Saturday 28 January – Saturday 12 May 2012.  When the climate changes from warm to freezing, the plants and animals you rely on for food and clothing die out or disappear, how would YOU survive? 

Packed full of fun activities set alongside Ice Age animal bones and the oldest objects made by people found in this area, this exhibition looks at how the earliest people survived over 300,000 years ago. 

Specially suited for primary school ages or families, but with something of interest for everyone, you will be asked to think about whether you think you could have lived in a time before farming, when people survived by hunting and gathering and when extreme climate change threatened their existence. 

 Plus, there is free admission for children (with an accompanying paying adult) if you enter our Cave Art competition. Click here to print out one of the cave art pictures to colour in or complete with your own design. Bring your finished work into the museum together with a completed entry form to claim your free entry to the exhibition. We will also display your picture in the exhibition and you have chance to win a special Behind the Scenes tour with the Museum’s Director who will even let you touch a real mammoth bone!

To give you a few ideas about what real cave art was like, follow these links.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/handsonhistory/ancient-britain.shtmlhttp://www.bbc.co.uk/history/handsonhistory/ancient-britain.shtml

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Intense and brooding images of Stonehenge and other prehistoric monuments in a new exhibition are taking visitors deep into the heart of Thomas Hardy’s ‘Wessex’.

Archaeologists debate the purpose of Stonehenge, but for Hardy it was a haunting symbol of isolation and suffering.

The exhibition by three artists at Salisbury Museum mirrors the Dorset author’s emotional response to the archaeological sites he knew and used with such effect in his novels.

His use of landscape was highly symbolic and deeply emotive. Nowhere is that more clear than in his description of Stonehenge, which features in the climactic scene of Tess of the d’Urbervilles.

In the dead of night, Tess stumbles upon the monument, and lies down to rest on an ancient altar, giving the allusion of her character as a sacrificial offering to a society that has cast her out. Hardy describes the isolation of the monument on Salisbury Plain, and once inside, the feeling of enclosure.

Symbolism is central to Hardy’s writing, which may be why so many artists use his work as their inspiration.

Artists Dave Gunning, David Inshaw and Rob Pountney have collaborated to show the dramatic landscapes and archaeology in media ranging from charcoal to steel etching and oil paint.

They share a common interest in how Hardy used landscape to symbolise the emotional and physical experiences of his characters.

He revived the Saxon name ‘Wessex’ as a part-real, part-dream landscape, thinly disguising place names so that Salisbury becomes Melchester and Dorchester becomes Casterbridge. Salisbury Plain is sometimes called the “Great Grey Plain”.

Dave Gunning, who was awarded the Year of the Artist Award in 2000-1 by the British Arts Council, has spent more than 25 years studying the prehistoric landscape in the West Country, particularly the ancient monuments within the World Heritage Site of Stonehenge and Avebury.

David Inshaw is one of Britain’s leading contemporary artists. His work is often inspired by literature that takes landscape and nature as its focus.

Rob Pountney has always been fascinated by Thomas Hardy’s work, and says the use of dramatic contrasts of light and shade in his work captures the striking visual aspects of the geological and archaeological features of the Wessex landscape, and his interpretation of Hardy’s response to them.

Salisbury Museum is the perfect place for the exhibition, which opened on Saturday and runs until April 14.

In Jude the Obscure, Hardy bases the college that Sue Bridehead attends on the training college for schoolmistresses that his sisters attended. This was the King’s House, Salisbury, and is now home to the museum.

Thomas Hardy was born at Higher Bockhampton, a hamlet in the parish of Stinsford to the east of Dorchester.

He became ill with pleurisy in December 1927 and died at Max Gate just after 9pm on January 11, 1928, having dictated his final poem to his wife on his deathbed. The cause of death was cited, on his death certificate, as “cardiac syncope
Link: http://www.dorchesterpeople.co.uk

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