Doncaster Heritage Festival uncovers borough’s rich history

If you love history you are in for a treat as the annual Doncaster Heritage Festival is back for 2019.

By Nigel Booth
Wednesday, 17th April 2019, 3:54 pm
Updated Wednesday, 17th April 2019, 4:19 pm
Friends of the Grand Theatre at the festival in 2018
Friends of the Grand Theatre at the festival in 2018

This year’s Heritage Festival runs from Saturday May 4 to Sunday May 19 and is bigger and better than ever. 

Featuring events such as Anglo-Saxon royalty to the larger than life actor behind Blackadder’s King Richard IV – there really is something for everyone at this year’s festival at a variety of times and venues across the borough.

Alan Radford, of the Leeds Waits, pictured performing at the festival in 2018

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Heritage Doncaster and community partners have put together an exciting programme of enthralling talks, workshops, walks and events exploring the history of the borough and beyond.

Events are taking place at venues across Doncaster and many are free to attend.

The festival begins on Saturday 4 May with two fascinating talks about England’s medieval royalty. 

Local historian Helen Cox examines the claims surrounding the paternity of the 15th century monarch King Edward IV in an illustrated talk at Doncaster Museum at 11am.   

Festival 2018 (From left) cousins Jamie-Leigh Howarth, Billy Bartho and Jessie Bartho

Later on Saturday, historian and broadcaster Michael Wood visits Doncaster Mansion House to present the annual David Hey Memorial Lecture.  Michael will explore the Anglo-Saxon roots of the English state in his talk King Athelstan and the Making of England at 2.30pm. 

Tickets for both events are available in advance from Doncaster Local Studies in the Central Library.

There is also May Day at Cusworth Hall on Sunday May 5, 1pm to 4pm at Cusworth Hall and Park, entry free, where you can try a host of May events.  Booking is essential .

On Wednesday May 15 at 2.30pm there is Uncovering Doncaster's Food History – Dreambakes (£7.50) Meryl White, author of Grandma Abson’s Traditional Baking, joins forces with Dreambakes to present an afternoon of Doncaster-inspired recipes.

Richard Bell, Chairman of Trustees The Sand House charity, 2018

The talk will reveal Doncaster’s culinary past from Doncaster-born Elizabeth Raffald’s 1769 cookbook and its Georgian baking to the town’s famous Butterscotch, right up to the present day markets.  This event also features a food and drink tasting provided by Dreambakes.

Book via Dreambakes, based at 3 Priory House, Priory Walk, Doncaster DN1 1TS. For details call 07734 360237.

Coun Nigel Ball, cabinet member for culture, said: “This is the ninth year the heritage festival has been held and it’s bigger and better than ever. The festival provides a fantastic opportunity for everyone to find out more about our town’s rich, varied and fascinating history.

“We’re looking forward to welcoming some fantastic guest speakers again this year and exploring local life through the ages through family activities, guided walks, talks, exhibitions and workshops. The events are being held at various times across the borough, so get involved and celebrate Doncaster’s history with us.”

Some of the many other Heritage Festival highlights include: The King’s War: A Commoner, The Crown and Britain’s Greatest Struggle.

Mark Logue, co-author of The King’s Speech, follows the relationship between his grandfather, speech therapist Lionel Logue, and King George VI through the dark days of the Second World War and beyond. 

It takes place on Tuesday May 7 from 1pm at The Point.  Tickets are £4 and available from the Local Studies Library.

Also, there is the Misdemeanours and Justice Through the Years event where you can go along and hear examples and amusing anecdotes of local cases held in the Conisbrough manorial court hundreds of years ago.  This takes place on Thursday May 9, 2.30pm at Doncaster Museum. This is a  free event – tickets can be booked in advance via Local Studies.

Another highlight is the Sand House poetry workshop.

This is a poetry writing workshop with poet Ian Parks,  based on visual images of the Sand House. It takes place on Thursday May 16, 10am to 1pm  at the Boughen Centre.  This is a free event and tickets can be booked in advance via Local Studies..

In addition there is an audience with larger than life character, Brian Blessed.

The larger than life special guest joins this year’s Heritage Festival to share his stories and anecdotes from a spectacular career performing in Flash Gordon, Black Adder and many more excellent stage and screen productions. It takes place on Friday May 17 at Cast Theatre. Tickets are £21 and go on sale from April 22 from Cast.

For further details of the events already mentioned, along with a full list of what’s on, visit website. You can also contact Doncaster Local Studies on 01302 734307 to get further details.