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Chance to see a Spitfire fly-past as part of two day history festival

today28 June 2022

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A Leicestershire village is offering visitors a chance to step back in time as part of a new festival celebrating history. Desford Heritage Festival will feature nine different theme zones such as Medieval and World War 2.

Visitors will have the chance to see a Spitfire flypast and a Tiger Moth perform an aerobatic display. The festival is set to take place on Saturday, July 2 and Sunday, July 3 with 16 boards telling stories of the village’s history. The residents of the village fundraised to collect £12,000 to create the boards.

History teacher and local resident, Kate Twitchin, hosts heritage walks around the village, shared with LeicestershireLive how the festival plans began. She said: “I drew on a piece of paper this idea of dividing the village into time zones so we could really showcase how far Desford goes back.

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“I pitched it to some people from the village – who thought I was insane – but said they would back it. We ended up with 16 people who bought into this idea and wanted to make it happen,” she said.

“My ‘phone does not stop ringing, with people wanted to get involved. The day we got Desford Colliery Band was unbelievable, and the day the RAF got in touch about doing a fly-past was amazing.

She added: “I never dreamed we would get to this stage. Now, as well as launching the trail, we’re putting on the biggest party this village has ever seen.

The nine-time zones that people will be able to walk around are WW2, WW1/Edwardian, Stuarts/Civil War, Mining, Framework Knitting, Victorian, Tudor, Medieval and Desford Walk of Fame.

“In each time zone, we’ve brought in actors, musicians, vehicles, food vendors, re-enactment groups – a whole host of entertainment that will hopefully bring each zone to life. As you move around, you’ll get a flavour of what Desford, or indeed any village in the country, would have been like.

“It will be an immersive, interactive and educational experience. To our knowledge, nobody’s ever done anything like this before. We’ve got people from all over the country taking part – including 500 re-enactors.

“What we’re particularly proud of us that we’ve made it as inclusive as possible. A family can buy a programme for £5 and that is their all-access pass to the festival. The only additional cost they could incur is if they choose to buy food – everything else is included with the programme,” said Kate.

There will be WW1 and WW2 barracks, medieval encampments, military re-enactment groups, Tudor sports, costumed entertainers and vintage funfair rides.

You’ll also be able to take part in a Victorian school life experience, enjoy maypole and morris dancing, see a collection of vintage vehicles, and pay a visit to the pop-up Desford Museum.

Members of Gloriana Historic Dance and Living History getting ready for the July 2 and 3 Desford Heritage Festival
Members of Gloriana Historic Dance and Living History getting ready for the July 2 and 3 Desford Heritage Festival

The Spitfire flypast, by the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, is sure to be an incredible sight, as will the Tiger Moth acrobatic display, featuring nine Tiger Moths. These specific models have been chosen for the event due to their connection to the village, as Kate explained.

She said: “Desford used to have an aerodrome, which is now the site of Caterpillar, and that started off as an RAF training area for pilots. That aerodrome trained over 15,000 pilots, who went on fly in things like the Battle of Britain, and what they trained in was Tiger Moths.

“It was a repair and assembly aerodrome, and we assembled over a thousand Spitfires which went off to be used in the RAF in battle. I hope that people will realise that we very deliberately picked the planes that resonate most strongly with our history.”

According to Kate, it is also a coup to have the Desford Colliery Band – who haven’t played in the village for more than 40 years. The band has performed all over the world, including at the Royal Albert Hall and the Sydney Opera House – and now, for the Desford Heritage Festival, they will be returning to the place where it all began.

There will be plenty of food and drink available, with Victorian tea rooms complete with period actors, a 1940s cafe, and themed menus at local pubs. At The Lancaster Arms, you can take your pick from a menu that made history – a medieval feast for Henry VIII as organised by Cardinal Wolsey in 1526.

This will include filled manchets with fresh crab meat with orange zest and Dijon mustard or beef (sirloin strips) with pan-fried onion, fillet aloes – three thin sliced and rolled fillet steaks with finely chopped egg and onion filling, manchet and Bungay butter, ‘jelly hippocras’ – cinnamon and ginger jelly, or ‘dysschful of snowe’ – strawberries and cream.

The Desford Heritage Trail will be officially launched on the Saturday morning, with guests including Luke Evans MP and Desford’s oldest resident.

Kate continued: “The boards are a snapshot of what I talk about on the heritage walks. What we’ve tried to do is to bring history to life, with images, a small amount of text and anecdotes, so you’ve got that personal element as well.

A closing ceremony will take place at 7pm on Sunday evening, on the Church green. All residents are being invited to go along and toast Desford past, present and future.

Festival programmes, outlining the attractions and timed events on offer, are now available for £5 each from Desford Library and will be available at the car parks on the event days. Two car parks will be available – the main one at Caterpillar, Peckleton Lane, and a second one at Bosworth Academy, Leicester Lane.

Shuttle buses will run approximately every 10 minutes, with four stops – Caterpillar, The Bluebell Inn, The Lancaster Arms and Bosworth Academy. Visitors are asked not to drive into the centre of the village.

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Written by: thehitnetwork

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