4 - 7 July 2024, Chester

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Booking for Event Tickets will Open On May 20th 2024.

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Some events require no booking and this is indicated in the details of the events.

11.00 AM – 4.00 PM
Exhibition
Migration Stories Northwest

Migration Stories North West – Touring Exhibition

Migration Stories North West (2021-24) is a National Lottery Heritage Fund project mapping histories of migration in and out of the North West of England from the Roman period to the present day. The project is led by five North West partners and supported by historians and heritage organisations from around the region and beyond. This exhibition tells stories of individual women, men and children who have migrated in and out of the North West from other parts of the British Isles and other parts of the world as a result of conflict, colonialism and trade, as well as in search of work, educational opportunities or a better life. Together, the stories reveal the region’s long history of migration and ways in which it has shaped and continues to shape our social landscape. Migration Stories NW exhibition will be held in Chester Town Hall across the four days of the festival 11am-4pm, no need to book, just drop in and visit!
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11.00 AM – 2.00 PM
Thomas Pickles and Katherine Wilson

Historic Towns Trust Historical Map and Atlas of Chester – Public Consultation

Come and tell us what aspects of Chester’s past should be presented to the public!
Together the Historic Towns Trust (HTT), the University of Chester, and Chester Archaeological Society are producing an Historical Map of Chester and working towards an Historical Atlas of Chester.
Peruse the draft Historical Map and tell us which sites we have missed.
Consider the proposed time periods for the Atlas and tell us about your favourite historic places in Chester that should be included.
Sign up to help draft the Atlas.
No booking is required for this event, just drop in to Chester Town Hall Foyer to find us, Katherine Wilson and Tom Pickles.
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12.00 PM – 1.00 PM
Public Talk
James Holt, University of Chester

The Emperor’s new clothes: voices from the margins

Within all elements of society there are voices that are prioritised because of their size. With a focus on the loudest and the largest it is possible to miss the voices from the margins with their myriad of new ideas and ways of thinking. Although this extends to all areas of society, in this talk James Holt, author of Beyond the Big Six Religions, will explore the value of including the voices of those ‘on the margins’ of religion and belief in our public discourse and legislation. It has been suggested that as those with little power are ignored, there is less appetite for people to become involved or even to raise their voices. Using examples from his career in Religious Education and inter-faith, James will highlight the strength that this inclusive civil discourse can bring to our personal, professional and societal relationships.  
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1.00 PM – 2.00 PM
Public Talk
Sharon M. Varey and Graeme J. White

We look but do we really see? … exploring and understanding local landscapes

Have you ever stopped to consider or ask questions about where you live, work, or places you like to visit (a house, building, village, town, forest)? Often we rarely notice something that is right in front of us as we go about our daily lives: the lion on top of a Chester car park, the architecture within some of Chester’s shops, the façade of the railway station, an inscribed sandstone block opposite a Boughton school. Landscape History is about asking questions of what we see and then trying to make sense of what lies before us. Looking at features in the landscape, finding out about them and trying to explain how, why and when these features appeared and when changes took place.

In this talk, Sharon Varey and Graeme White, Emeritus Professor of Local History, University of Chester (Landscape Historians, members of the Chester Society for Landscape History, editors of Cheshire History and a trilogy of landscape history books) will show how an interest in the landscape around us inspired study and research, the foundation of a successful local society, the publication of a number of short booklets and ultimately to three major publications: enriching the lives of many local people along the way.

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2.00 PM – 3.00 PM
Public Talk
Claire Chatterton, Open University

Beyond Nightingale – examining the contributions of three local women to nursing in the Crimean War

2024 sees the 170th anniversary of British and Irish nurses arriving in the Crimea to nurse the wounded. As the Crimea is once again beset by war and conflict, it is timely to explore the impact of this earlier conflict on the development of nursing practice and to mark its place in nursing history.

This talk by Claire Chatterton will examine the contribution of three British women to that conflict, two of whom went out to nurse in the Crimea and one who worked from home to support nursing efforts. Florence Nightingale and Mary Seacole are well known but the contributions and even the names of many other women who nursed in that conflict are not.

The two nurses with local connections who went to the Crimea are Mary Stanley from Alderley and Betsi Cadwaladr from Bala. Just as many conflicting stories and myths surround Nightingale and Seacole, so do they in relation to Stanley and her relationship with Nightingale and Cadwaladr’s contribution to nursing practice. In addition, the contribution of women who supported those nurses in the Crimea by fundraising and using their organisational and networking skills from the UK will be explored through the example of Catherine Gladstone of Hawarden.

 

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3.00 PM – 4.00 PM
Public Talk
Sheena Evans, Independent Scholar and Biographer

Forgotten But Not Lost. How a great medical pioneer, once lost from the collective public memory, was rediscovered

This talk will explore the great story of a remarkable woman.

Janet Vaughan lived from 1899 to 1993. One of the few women to qualify as a doctor in 1925, within 10 years she published a classic book on the anaemias and was teaching in the British Postgraduate Medical School at Hammersmith. She was seventh female fellow of the Royal College of Physicians from 1939, and first female Councillor from 1943.Vaughan campaigned to improve the nutrition of the poor, and from 1936 worked for Spanish Medical Aid to relieve suffering during the Spanish Civil War. During World War Two she helped run the blood transfusion service and plan the reform of medical education, and served on the 1944 Royal Commission on Equal Pay.

Principal of Somerville College Oxford from 1945, she became a Dame in 1957. Research continued: she was soon a world authority on the effects of plutonium on bone, then Fellow of the Royal Society. But by 1993 she had slipped from public memory. Her biographer will explore the reasons for this, and how it proved possible to research and write the story of her action-packed life in in Bloomsbury, Belsen, Oxford: Janet Vaughan – Medical Pioneer.

 
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6.30 PM – 8.30 PM
Discussion Panel
Chester Cathedral

Assemble at Chester Cathedral

Chester Cathedral is many things to many people and we want to be a place where people gather to discuss the BIG topics. Assemble is an invitation to come and hear engaging speakers on topics that are relevant in our modern world. Our second Assemble will explore the role of AI in our society: can engaging with AI be good for humanity? A panel of speakers who work in or engage with AI in a range of ways will explore this question with opportunities for questions from the public to shape the discussion. Join us to explore this engaging topic. Please book through the event website link.
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7.00 PM – 9.00 PM
Awards Evening
Livi Michael

The Cheshire Prize for Literature Awards Evening with guest speaker Livi Michael

The Cheshire Prize for Literature Awards Evening is an annual event where the winners of this year’s competition are announced. We will also hear from guest speaker Livi Michael, British Fiction Writer, who was born in Cheshire. She has written 20 novels for adults, young adults and children, many of which have won or been shortlisted for awards. Her most recent novel, Reservoir, was published in March 2023 by Salt. Her play, Singers Not Sinners was performed in Oldham in 2022. Her short stories have been published in various places including Granta, The Lonely Crowd and the Manchester Review, and have been long listed for the BBC National Short Story Award. She has judged several short story competitions including, the Arc Short Story Competition, the National Writing Competition Botswana 2007, the National Writing Competition You Can Foster 2017, and The Manchester Fiction Prize 2019. She runs a podcast series Small Pleasures, about the short story with the Francophone writer and translator Sonya Moor. She has taught creative writing in various universities and for the Arvon foundation and was Programme Leader of the MA in Publishing at Manchester Metropolitan University. A complimentary drink will be provided on arrival. All are welcome. Booking is open for this event through the weblink.

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10.00 AM – 5.00 PM
Chester Art Beat

Chester Art Beat

Come and immerse yourself in creativity this summer as Chester Art Beat returns from July 5th to 7th 2024. The vision at the heart of Chester Art Beat is to celebrate and support the diverse artistic talent from the colourful communities of Cheshire. From seasoned professionals to budding newcomers, our event offers a vibrant platform for artists of all disciplines to shine while showcasing the rich tapestry of our beloved city in over 15 captivating venues.  Putting 30+ talented local artists in the spotlight, Chester Art Beat promises to be an unforgettable experience for art enthusiasts of all ages. Click here to go to the 2024 Trail Map
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11.00 AM – 12.00 PM
Discussion Panel
University of Chester Panel

Connecting Ideas: Shaping the Future City

This panel discussion will provide a platform for discussion about the ways we can shape the city of Chester for the future. The event will bring together a range of experts in sustainability, transport and politics to connect and develop ideas on strategies to ensure a prosperous, healthier, greener and fairer future for all of Chester’s people.
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11.00 AM – 4.00 PM
Exhibition
Migration Stories Northwest

Migration Stories North West – Touring Exhibition

Migration Stories North West (2021-24) is a National Lottery Heritage Fund project mapping histories of migration in and out of the North West of England from the Roman period to the present day. The project is led by five North West partners and supported by historians and heritage organisations from around the region and beyond. This exhibition tells stories of individual women, men and children who have migrated in and out of the North West from other parts of the British Isles and other parts of the world as a result of conflict, colonialism and trade, as well as in search of work, educational opportunities or a better life. Together, the stories reveal the region’s long history of migration and ways in which it has shaped and continues to shape our social landscape. Migration Stories NW exhibition will be held in Chester Town Hall across the four days of the festival 11am-4pm, no need to book, just drop in and visit!
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1.00 PM – 2.00 PM
Public Talk
University of Chester Speaker

Floella Benjamin: Facing Adversity With A Smile

In this free public talk, Floella will tell of her childhood journey to England as a ten year old girl, a story which she wrote as a best selling book ‘Coming to England’. She will go on to talk about her transition from trainee bank clerk to actress. Occasionally Floella will use song to describes this eventful period of her life. Of course Floella is best know for her appearances on children’s television in programmes such as the legendary Playschool and Playaway and she will also offer to take the audience through the ‘round’, ‘square’ or arched window. Floella will talk about how she overcame many adversities and obstacles by having a positive attitude and learning to face them with a smile and her philosophy of life her 3 C’s. This talk will take you on an inspirational journey by showing how you too can make a difference and change the world for children and young people, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds.  Through her charitable work including her media appearances and life in Parliament she explains her mission to get everyone to focus on the important fact that ‘Childhood lasts a Lifetime’.  
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1.30 PM – 2.30 PM
Public Talk
Liz Montgomery, Senior Curator, West Cheshire Museums

Georgian Chester

An introduction to Chester in the fashionable Georgian period, exploring the architecture, notable people, fashion and places to be seen using the West Cheshire Museums’ art, archaeology and costume collections. This lecture is a lead in to our major summer art exhibition on George Cuitt: Chester’s Piranesi.
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3.00 PM – 4.00 PM
Public Talk
Ian Dunn

George Cuitt (1779-1854): Chester’s Greatest Regency Artist

George Cuitt resided in Chester from 1804 to 1821. Here he launched his remarkable career as artist and etcher being called “one of the finest, in his chosen line the very finest, of our native etchers.” His published plates were judged to “have no equal in Britain and no superior in the similar school of any nation.” His depictions of the ancient buildings of Chester display a unique approach and a superb technique, bringing a quality and romantic atmosphere to the pictures of Chester unknown before his time. Alongside these labours he built up an extensive and popular practice as the foremost teacher of drawing in the city and its surroundings.

The talk by Ian Dunn, Former County Archivist of Cheshire, will expand on the theme of the vital role of the drawing master in the age before photography and the social milieu in which it flourished. The means by which Cuitt was able to earn a modest fortune in an age when provincial artists have commonly been perceived as struggling to eke out a meagre existence, will also be explored. It will be shown that Cuitt made considerable sums both from his published etchings and from his profitable teaching before retiring back to his native Yorkshire for the last thirty-three years of his life.

 
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10.00 AM – 5.00 PM
Chester Art Beat

Chester Art Beat

Come and immerse yourself in creativity this summer as Chester Art Beat returns from July 5th to 7th 2024. The vision at the heart of Chester Art Beat is to celebrate and support the diverse artistic talent from the colourful communities of Cheshire. From seasoned professionals to budding newcomers, our event offers a vibrant platform for artists of all disciplines to shine while showcasing the rich tapestry of our beloved city in over 15 captivating venues.  Putting 30+ talented local artists in the spotlight, Chester Art Beat promises to be an unforgettable experience for art enthusiasts of all ages. Click here to go to the 2024 Trail Map
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11.00 AM – 4.00 PM
Exhibition
Migration Stories Northwest

Migration Stories North West – Touring Exhibition

Migration Stories North West (2021-24) is a National Lottery Heritage Fund project mapping histories of migration in and out of the North West of England from the Roman period to the present day. The project is led by five North West partners and supported by historians and heritage organisations from around the region and beyond. This exhibition tells stories of individual women, men and children who have migrated in and out of the North West from other parts of the British Isles and other parts of the world as a result of conflict, colonialism and trade, as well as in search of work, educational opportunities or a better life. Together, the stories reveal the region’s long history of migration and ways in which it has shaped and continues to shape our social landscape. Migration Stories NW exhibition will be held in Chester Town Hall across the four days of the festival 11am-4pm, no need to book, just drop in and visit!
More information
11.00 AM – 12.00 PM
Public Talk
Liz Montgomery, Senior Curator, West Cheshire Museums

Minted: Making Money and Meaning The Coins in West Cheshire Museums’ collection

West Cheshire Museums’ care for an amazing money collection containing coins, jettons and paper money. It not only charts the history of people’s interaction with wealth, but documents political issues, cultural attachments and even fashion. This lecture examines how money was made, how it was used by those who created it, and what it meant to the people who owned it, with highlights from the collection.  
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11.00 AM – 1.00 PM
Workshop
University of Chester, Chester Cathedral

Virtual Reality Testing: Explore Medieval St John’s Church

Members of the public are invited to test and give feedback on a prototype Virtual Reality experience of fourteenth century St John’s Church in Chester. Wearing a Virtual Reality headset you will feel what it was like to walk around St John’s in the fourteenth century! This work has been developed as part of the Arts and Humanities Research Council research project Mobility of Objects Across Boundaries 1000-1700 (MOB), led by Katherine Wilson and based at the University of Chester. We are interested in hearing your views about the prototype and how you think Virtual Reality reconstructions might be developed and used in other settings for the public, for example at Chester Cathedral. This Virtual Reality test event will be held on Saturday 6th July 11am-1pm in Chester Cathedral as part of Chester Festival of Ideas. It is suitable for ages 12+.  
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11.00 AM – 12.00 PM
Public Talk
Gyles Brandreth

The Idea of Happiness-And How to Achieve It

It was the American Declaration of Independence that introduced the idea of “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness” as unalienable rights.  4th July 1776 is the date when the modern idea of a right to happiness was born – and this talk by Gyles Brandreth will explore the idea of happiness as it has developed across the centuries and introduce his 7 Secrets of Happiness.

What is happiness? Who gets to be happy? And how? Research shows that happy people live up to ten years longer than unhappy people. This is a talk that won’t simply enhance your life: it may well extend it.

 
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1.00 PM – 2.00 PM
Public Talk
University of Chester Speaker

Dr Louise Newson: Female hormones and health – why do we need to talk about perimenopause and menopause?

For far too long, the menopause has simply been considered as a condition which either affects periods or fertility. Few people have thought about the important role of oestrogen, testosterone and progesterone in our bodies. These hormones can have very beneficial effects and when the level of these hormones reduce, many symptoms can occur and there is also an increased risk of diseases including heart disease and dementia.

I will talk about what perimenopause and menopause are, how to be diagnosed, treatment choices and how to have a healthy menopause. HRT myths will be debunked too. I hope this talk will enable people to think about female hormones in a different way so that more women will be able to receive the advice, care and treatment they deserve to improve their mental and physical health.

 
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2.00 PM – 3.00 PM
Public Talk
Dan Edmonds, Cheshire Archives and Local Studies

Journeys to Cheshire

This event is an opportunity to learn more about two projects which are sharing stories of people crossing borders and building new lives in Cheshire and across the North West.

Daniel Edmonds of Cheshire Archives will introduce the Journeying to Cheshire project launched by the archives in partnership with Cheshire Halton and Warrington Racial Equality Centre (CHAWREC). They are working together to produce a series of oral histories with members of new and emerging communities across Cheshire, creating resources for researchers and public display boards.

Heather Swainston, Project Worker for Cheshire at Migration Stories NorthWest, will talk through some of the choices and stories that went into the display, which can be visited through the course of the Festival of Ideas.

If you want to learn more about why people have made Cheshire their home, and to hear about their experiences, then please join us for this discussion.

Both these projects have been made possible with funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Booking for this event will open early in May.

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6.30 PM – 7.30 PM
Discussion Panel
Carole Cadwalladr

AI and Democracy – Carole Cadwalladr in conversation

In 2018, Pulitzer-nominated journalist Carole Cadwalladr exposed the Cambridge Analytica data scandal. As the UK & US go to the polls again she discusses what impact the next wave of tech disruption – generative AI- could have on democracies across the world. Book through the event website link below
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11.00 AM – 4.00 PM
Exhibition
Migration Stories Northwest

Migration Stories North West – Touring Exhibition

Migration Stories North West (2021-24) is a National Lottery Heritage Fund project mapping histories of migration in and out of the North West of England from the Roman period to the present day. The project is led by five North West partners and supported by historians and heritage organisations from around the region and beyond. This exhibition tells stories of individual women, men and children who have migrated in and out of the North West from other parts of the British Isles and other parts of the world as a result of conflict, colonialism and trade, as well as in search of work, educational opportunities or a better life. Together, the stories reveal the region’s long history of migration and ways in which it has shaped and continues to shape our social landscape. Migration Stories NW exhibition will be held in Chester Town Hall across the four days of the festival 11am-4pm, no need to book, just drop in and visit!
More information
11.00 AM – 12.30 PM
Workshop
Liz Montgomery, Senior Curator and Julie Edwards, Archaeological Officer, West Cheshire Museums

Beneath our Feet: Archaeological finds from Chester’s Northgate

Join curators from West Cheshire Museums to take a look at fascinating multi-period archaeological finds from the very heart of the city in Chester Market. Get up close to artefacts from the Old Market Hall, Hamilton Place and the most recent Northgate excavations. No need to book-just drop in!
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11.00 AM – 4.00 PM
Chester Art Beat

Chester Art Beat

Come and immerse yourself in creativity this summer as Chester Art Beat returns from July 5th to 7th 2024. The vision at the heart of Chester Art Beat is to celebrate and support the diverse artistic talent from the colourful communities of Cheshire. From seasoned professionals to budding newcomers, our event offers a vibrant platform for artists of all disciplines to shine while showcasing the rich tapestry of our beloved city in over 15 captivating venues.  Putting 30+ talented local artists in the spotlight, Chester Art Beat promises to be an unforgettable experience for art enthusiasts of all ages. Click here to go to the 2024 Trail Map
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1.00 PM – 2.00 PM
Public Talk
University of Chester Speaker

History and the History Wars: David Olusoga

History is now front-page news, contested as never before. Statues have fallen and the reputations of great men called into question. In this talk, Professor David Olusoga examines the causes of the ‘history wars’ and asks where they might lead us.
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2.30 PM – 3.30 PM
Public Talk, Workshop
Cellan Harston (Director Roman Tours)

Auxilia – Rome’s Cutting Edge: Diversity and Culture in the Roman Army

Roman auxiliary soldiers were an essential and formidable part of the invincible Roman Army. Their specialist military skills held back the hostile barbarian hordes especially along the frontiers of the Empire such as in Roman Britain. But what exactly do we know about them?

With insights about the latest research and archaeological finds, experts from Roman Tours reveal the fascinating diversity and culture of these tough and adaptable men – and women – many thousands of whom came from tribes as far away as the Eurasian Steppes to serve in the northern military zone here in Chester and along Hadrian’s Wall.

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3.00 PM – 4.00 PM
Performance
Company Carpi

Disunited Jukebox – A 21st Century Opera

Company Carpi: composer Gary Lloyd & choreographer Bettina Carpi

Presenting: Disunited Jukebox – A 21st Century Opera  A discussion about where ideas come from with the creators of Disunited Jukebox featuring smaller-scale extracts from the opera in an exclusive live performance specially created for the Festival of Ideas 2024. Disunited Jukebox is a brand new opera, with dance, about the bewildering state of the modern world.  It spans diverse topics from artificial intelligence, nature & climate, witchcraft, political landscape, neuroscience, refugee crises, technological progresses, our hopes & fears for the future… to mental health & conspiracy theories. Highly celebrated writers Mary Talbot, Neil Gaiman, Audrey Schebat, Brian Catling and many others have created the specially written libretto for the opera, alongside new writing talent such as Marissa Landy, and featuring youth and community input. Information on the photograph image for this event: L to R: Company Carpi opera singers Olivia Carrell, Isabelle MohanNaomi Rogers & Luca Wetherall. The musicians for Disunited Jukebox are drawn from the best orchestras in the UK and are joined by a cast of contemporary dancers.

Photography: Brian Hickey Simon Bubb

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