The Pick - Voewood Festival

August 25, 2011



Credit: Getty
The Dandy Highwayman: Stuart Goddard, also known as Adam Ant


Voewood Festival

High Kelling, Norfolk

Voewood, later known as Home Place, is a celebrated Arts and Crafts residence built between 1903 and 1905. It is described in Sir Nikolaus Pevsner's The Buildings of England as "by far the most interesting building in this part of Norfolk...a violently idiosyncratic house reminiscent of Gaudi".

Over the years it has been pressed into service both as a boys' school and as a rest home, but it has recently been restored by rare-book dealer Simon Finch and will serve as the venue for the first Voewood Festival (www.voewoodfestival.com) over the bank holiday weekend, to 29 August. Five tents will be erected to host most of the events for what the organisers hope will be "the literary garden party of the year".

The festival opens on the morning of August with Mark Logue and Peter Conradi telling the story behind the film The King's Speech. Allison Pearson will recount the process that turned her best-selling novel, I Don't Know How She Does It, into a forthcoming Hollywood film starring Sarah Jessica Parker and Pierce Brosnan. Other sessions will consider everything from the story of MI6 to the history of broken hearts, the Peninsular War, American heiresses and Russian criminal tattoos.

Masterclasses aim to help aspiring writers to "find a voice" or come up with a great thriller plot by "throwing rocks at narrative". Walks will be led by garden historian and Arts and Crafts expert Wade Graham, and by Bridget Nicholls, currently the artist in residence at London Zoo.

"Get into Bed with David Whitehouse" will involve him reading from his prizewinning novel Bed from beneath the sheets. Finch himself will be involved in a conversation "in praise of older books" and will offer a reading from his forthcoming memoir. He will also interview the "land artist" Richard Long. Musical events will feature Adam Ant, Beth Orton and Glen Matlock of the Sex Pistols.

Although Voewood is the new kid on the block, there are a number of other, mainly musical, festive possibilities for the bank holiday. Liverpool's Mathew Street Festival promises over 80 hours of live outdoor music courtesy of performers from as far away as Argentina, Brazil, Germany and Norway, in Europe's largest annual free music festival.

Like Voewood, the Leeds Festival takes place in the grounds of a historic house, Bramley Park near Wetherby. Since 1999, it has formed part of the joint Reading and Leeds Festivals, which share a line-up. (The original Reading Festival dates back to 1971 and claims to be the world's oldest surviving pop music festival.) Well-known acts on the bill include Muse, Pulp, Interpol, 2ManyDJs, Liam Gallagher's new band Beady Eye, Elbow, Crystal Castles, Anna Calvi, Seasick Steve and the Strokes.

Also going ahead, despite calls for a ban during London's recent episodes of rioting and looting, is the Notting Hill Carnival, a fixture in the August bank holiday calendar for more than 45 years.

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