Words take centre stage at Arundel Festival

Words are a theme running throughout this year’s Arundel Festival with a range of events.

August 19. Dickens. £15 to include wine and canapés. 1844: an 18 year old pianist catches the eye of Charles Dickens. His brief infatuation results in two marriages, one happy, one sad: his friend Thomas Thompson to the pianist, Christina Weller, and his feckless brother Fred to her sister Anna. Oliver Hawkins describes the events which brought his great-great-grandparents together, and applauds Dickens’s role in the affair. James McKay will read Dickens’s journalism, and show images of the places the writer describes, and there will be readings from the novels..A celebration in aid of St. Nicholas Church Restoration Fund. 77 Maltravers Street, 7pm.

August 20. From Sand Dunes To Chalk Downs. £10 to include wine. An illustrated talk by Martin Duncan. Martin is a horticulturalist and garden designer. He was landscape designer to the Jordanian Royal Palaces and senior superintendent of the Botanical Gardens and Parks in Bermuda. In this country he was head gardener at Audley End for English Heritage and, subsequent to that, redesigned a 230-acre private estate in Hampshire. He is currently head gardener at Arundel Castle. 57 Maltravers Street, 6pm.

August 23. Toffs and Turnips. An illustrated talk by John Godfrey. £10 to include wine. John is a landscape historian, a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and the Society of Antiquaries of London. He is a member of the National Trust’s regional advisory board for London and South East England. He is also vice-chairman of the trustees of the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum at Singleton and a trustee of the Sussex Heritage Trust and the South Downs Society. His research interests centre on land ownership and farming on the South Downs between 1750 and 1950, which he will explore in the company of three outstanding individuals who, in their different ways, made significant contributions to the agricultural scene during this period: George, 3rd Earl of Egremont (1751-1837); Henry, 15th Duke of Norfolk (1847-1917); and W. D. Passmore (1890-1967). 57 Maltravers Street, 6pm.

August 24. Hero Of Rorke’s Drift. £10 to include wine. A Doctor’s Story. An illustrated talk by Charles Wright. Charles, a retired gynaecologist, worked in Zululand as a medical student in the 1960s. While there, he visited the sites of the two epic battles of the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879: Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift. Thus began a lifelong interest in the history of these two battles and the stories of the men involved. He will tell the story of the battle of Rorke’s Drift and reveal the links between his own life and that of the surgeon present at Rorke’s Drift – James Henry Reynolds. 57 Maltravers Street, 6pm.

Tickets and more details on www.arundelfestival.co.uk.