Georgian life revealed at new summer festival

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Elaborate wigs, delicate powder puffs and fancy silk stockings will be out in force later this month when a North Yorkshire town celebrates its Georgian heritage at a brand new summer festival.

GeorgeFest is being held in Richmond from August 17-30 and there will be a wide selection of events and activities taking place throughout the fortnight – both indoor and outdoor – with many of them free of charge.

They include street entertainment, guided walks, talks, Georgian toy-making and even the opportunity to sample Georgian food.

As well as acknowledging the fine Georgian architecture and landmarks for which Richmond is so famous, the festival will look beyond bricks and mortar to the people themselves in order to bring this fascinating period of the town’s history to life.

Supported by Richmond Town Council and Richmondshire District Council, the festival is a new initiative from the Welcome to Richmond Group, a sub-group of the Richmond and Lower Swaledale Business Association made up of the town’s key attractions and representatives of the local business community to encourage tourism.

“Events and activities will focus on everyday things, such as where people lived, what they wore, how they spent their leisure time, what toys their children played with and what they liked to eat,” said James Gravenor, Chair of the Welcome to Richmond Group.

“Aimed at all age groups, there is literally something for everyone, from Georgian toy-making and storytelling sessions for young children to guided ghost walks or gossipy trips around the Market Place in a Sedan chair,” he added.

Key events include:

Street Theatre (from August 24-27): Seasoned showman, Tony Lidington will amaze the crowds with his mobile peepshow – one of the most popular forms of street entertainment in the 18th century. Free event. This will be explored further in an extended stage performance at The Georgian Theatre Royal on Wednesday August 26.

Sedan Chair Stories with North Country Theatre (Saturday 29): People can climb aboard a Sedan chair and be taken for a ride around the Market Place while they hear snippets of Georgian gossip. Free event

Parties, Petticoats and Pox (Thursday 20): an interactive storytelling session for all ages at the Green Howards Museum, focussing on the fascinating story of the area’s scarlet-coated militia.

Toy making and dressing up at the Richmondshire Museum. Daily activities and special displays throughout the festival.

Exploring the Georgian Table (Friday 21 August): An appetising history of Georgian food with an accompanying menu of historical tasty titbits held at the Green Howards Museum.

Ladies of a Certain Age – The History Wardrobe (Thursday 27 August): A costumed narrator presents lively readings from Jane Austen’s novels and gives insights into the realities of life for women past their first blush of youth. The Station.

Tate Wilkinson’s Monarchy – The Yorkshire Theatre Circuit (Tuesday 18 August): A talk by Ian Small at The Georgian Theatre Royal.

Tate Wilkinson was manager of a number of Yorkshire theatres. This presentation reveals more about the turbulent world in which he inhabited where actors could be publicly whipped and expelled from towns.

Women and Property in Georgian Richmond (Monday 24): A talk by Joan Heggie looking at Richmond’s female movers and shakers. Town Hall.

Richmond’s Georgian Heyday (Monday 17): Local author and historian Jane Hatcher will give a talk on Richmond when it was one of the region’s leading social and commercial centres, attracting people from far and wide. Free event.

A Walking Tour of Temple Grounds (Monday 24): This guided walk explores this historic designed landscape, featuring Culloden Tower and Temple Lodge. Free event.

Guided Town Walks (19, 23, 26 August): Entertaining walking tours that reveal the town’s illustrious Georgian past.

Behind-the-scenes guided tours of The Georgian Theatre Royal will take place daily. Built in 1788, this is the oldest working theatre in the country in its original form and a fine example of a Georgian playhouse.

Special Exhibition: Riotous Assembly exploring the impact and aftermath of the Riot Acts of the 1700s. Daily at the Green Howards Museum.

If successful, it is hoped that the festival will become a permanent fixture in the town’s entertainment calendar.