The Wilton History Festival brings together Wilton’s local communities, academics, and historians, to celebrate the rich history of this beautiful and ancient town.
The first ever Wilton History Festival took place 16-22 September 2017 in Wilton, Wiltshire, to coincide with the Feast Day of St. Edith of Wilton (died 984 AD), and the second iteration of the event is set to take place 15-22 September 2019.
The festival features a range of speakers and events exploring Wilton’s history from its earliest recorded moments and archaeological finds, through to its present contexts and the town’s possible future directions. The festival includes:
- Guided Walks
- A Symposium
- Evening Talks
- Community activities
All events in the 2019 festival are free unless otherwise stated (please check individual events for any charges). Instead of tickets, donations will be invited at each individual event (suggested donation £5/£10), with proceeds going to local charities. Please just check the time and location for the event you’d like to attend, and turn up! The festival aims to support and include Wilton’s local communities, promote Wilton’s tourism, and support local businesses.
- Find out more about the festival on our About the Festival page
- Check out our exciting Programme of events
- See the Speakers taking part in the festival
- Plan Your Visit
Join our Mailing List to be the first to receive festival news, including lineup, schedule, ticketing and travel information.
Wilton: A Town Steeped in History
Wilton’s history is long and illustrious – in the early Middle Ages it bore an eminent position as the royal seat of the Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Wessex, where the town’s important abbey was established – the home to St. Edith of Wilton. In the sixteenth century abbey land was granted to William Herbert following the Dissolution and Wilton House was built, becoming home to the Earls of Pembroke, who still live there to this day.
The town became famous for its weaving and carpet-making from the seventeenth century onwards, and in 1938 Edith Olivier became Wilton’s first lady mayor, attracting famous figures such as Cecil Beaton and Rex Whistler to the town. Wilton’s Erskine Barrack site, acquired by the British Army in 1949 became the headquarters for Land Forces until 2010.
Wilton is now moving forwards into a new and exciting phase of its history, and we invite you to join us to reflect on its past as we engage with the present and possible futures of this impressive town.
Festival events cover a range of topics around Wilton’s history, including:
- Anglo-Saxons and Wilton’s early history
- Wilton Abbey
- Wilton and Salisbury
- The Herbert Family, the Earls of Pembroke, and Wilton House
- The Women of Wilton
- George Herbert
- Victorian Wilton
- Modern Wilton
- Future Directions of Wilton
We look forward to seeing you in September!
Dr Rebecca Lyons, Festival Director