The following speakers are confirmed at the 2019 Wilton History Festival:

William Herbert, the 18th Earl of Pembroke

Festival Patron

The first Wilton History Festival was enthusiastically supported by William Herbert, the 18th Earl of Pembroke, who is reprising his patronage for the 2019 event.

Dr Rebecca Lyons

University of Bristol

Rebecca is the Wilton History Festival’s Director. She holds a permanent academic position in the Department of English at the University of Bristol, where she completed a PhD in 2017 on women’s ownership and readership of Arthurian literature in late medieval and early modern England. She moved to Wilton in 2015 and was inspired by its rich history (especially the feisty St. Edith of Wilton!) to organise the inaugural Wilton History Festival in 2017, and is reprising her role as director for the 2019 festival.

Rebecca says:

‘We received such wonderful support from Wilton’s local groups and communities with the first festival, and I was delighted at the enthusiastic response from everyone that attended the events, which were all fully-booked! Before the 2017 festival had finished, I was being asked when the next one would be, and I am very proud to be directing the second iteration of this fantastic event in 2019. It really does represent a communal effort, and I am hugely grateful to all the groups, volunteers, and interns involved for helping to bring this festival together again; to Wilton Town Council for providing funding; and to our patron, Lord Pembroke for his continued support. The festival is an educational and charitable non-profit event with the aim of giving back to the local community, with all funds raised being donated to local charities and causes. This year I am proud to say that all events are free (unless otherwise stated). We are inviting donations from event attendees, rather than charging for tickets, in order to ensure that all events are as open and accessible to everyone as possible. Please join us again in September as we celebrate Wilton’s fascinating past and bright future!’

Dr John Chandler

Victoria County History, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire

John Chandler BA PhD FSA is consultant editor to the Victoria County History in Gloucestershire and Wiltshire, and a local publisher (Hobnob Press). He has been researching, lecturing and writing about Wiltshire’s history for some forty years.

Dr Russ Foster


Russ Foster is a graduate of Southampton University. Now a freelance historian, he has written well over 100 articles on subjects ranging from Alfred the Great to Margaret Thatcher. He is also the author of three books: The Politics of County Power (1990), Wellington and Waterloo. The Duke, the Battle and Posterity 1815-2015((2014), and Sidney Herbert. Too Short a Life (2019). Russ is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society.

Dr Claire Harrill

Dr Claire Harrill is a former lecturer at the university of Birmingham with a PhD in medieval literature. She now works for the education charity The Brilliant Club, training academics to share their research with gifted and talented students in state schools across the UK.

Christine Matthews

Formerly a history teacher, Christine is a Wessex Blue Badge Guide, Clerk to the Trustees for Wilton United Charites and the Parish Secretary at St Mary & St Nicholas Church, Wilton. Author of: ‘A Small Town in the Great War – Wilton’s WWI’.

Churches Conservation Trust

The Churches Conservation Trust is the national charity saving historic churches at risk. They have saved over 350 buildings, which attract almost 2 million visitors a year. Their unique collection of English parish churches includes irreplaceable examples of architecture, archaeology and art from 1,000 years of history. With their help and with your support these churches are kept open and in use – living once again at the heart of their communities. The CCT looks after Old St. Mary’s Church in Wilton.

George Herbert in Bemerton Group

The George Herbert in Bemerton Group was founded in 2002 by local resident Canon Judy Rees, on her return to Lower Bemerton after a long absence. The members of the Group cover a wide spectrum of interests, both religious and secular.

Further speakers to be confirmed soon!