The 10th Plymouth History Festival begins this Saturday (7 May), celebrating the city’s unique heritage and showcasing the community work that takes place across the city. It runs until 27 May.
This year, the festival is taking inspiration from the ground breaking National Marine Park project, with a number of events that look at how Plymouth’s enduring connection with the water has shaped the identities of its people and communities.
The packed programme begins with a ‘Local History Bonanza Day’ at The Box on 7 May, when people can drop in to meet and chat to local history groups, enjoy a series of free talks, try their hand at quizzes, trails and more.
Other special events include ‘Community Curation Days’ in Stoke and Ernesettle, Heritage Litter Picks in the city centre, a workshop led by the Renaissance Dance Company, who specialise in the performance of court and country dances from the past, and sessions about local history research resources and how to read old handwriting in documents like the census returns from the 1800s and 1900s.
Exhibitions about local artists and murder, mystery and mayhem in the Victorian era at Ford Park Cemetery and the city’s fashion history at The Box can be viewed on selected days. An online exhibition running throughout the three weeks will give people a chance to learn more about the history of Plymouth Marjon University.
The History Festival always features a great selection of guided walks and tours and 2022 is no exception. Get your walking boots on to explore Peverell, Mutley, Greenbank, Ford Park Cemetery, the Royal William Yard, St Budeaux’s waterfront, the city centre, Mount Wise, The Barbican, Plymouth’s old town boundary, LGBT+ sites past and present and the Millfields. Take a fascinating tour of the Tamar Bridge, Royal Albert Bridge or Elizabethan House, and go behind-the-scenes at The Box and see its ‘archive in the sky’.
Talks and performances are also a key part of the festival and this year offers presentations about Drake’s Island, the ‘three towns’ of Plymouth, Devonport and Stonehouse, genealogy, the River Tamar, the Royal Albert Bridge, Dartmoor and Plymouth’s role in the Falklands conflict 40 years ago.
On 21 May, the Plymouth Community Heritage Network presents, ‘Our Ocean City, Stories and Sounds of the Sea’ at the University of Plymouth, with a series of talks that celebrate Plymouth’s maritime links.
Actor Derek Frood gives a brand new performance lecture about artist Solomon Hart in the Vestry at the Synagogue on a selection of dates. Hart, who was born in Plymouth in 1806, became the first Jewish member of London’s prestigious Royal Academy of Art.
People can also use some newly-developed digital resources for extra historical insights thanks to the Plymouth Trails App. In addition to the ‘Plymouth’s Powerful Women’ trail which was launched in 2021, new trails exploring Plympton St Maurice and many of the city’s historic blue plaques will go live during the festival. The App can be downloaded from the Apple Store and Google Play.
The History Festival is coordinated by The Box and delivered in partnership with a wide range of partner organisations, societies and individuals. Since launching in 2013 it’ engaged with thousands of people, offering a diverse insight into Plymouth’s rich historical past.
Full details about dates, times, booking and admission for each of this year’s events can found at https://plymouthhistoryfestival.com.
You can also follow the Festival for updates and news on Facebook and Twitter using @plymhistoryfest.