Video by John Dakin

The Deputy Mayor opened the Wimborne History Festival on Saturday Morning along with distinguished members of Wimborne’s Georgian notables.

Launching the Festival with the Deputy Town Mayor – image by Tom Scrace

Georgian Military displays and encampments

A view of Willow Walk encampments – image by Richard Frewer

Audiences met Soldiers from the period, representing a number of regiments (and sides!) they set up an encampment and provided activities and demonstrations of military and camp life, including; drill parades, musket firing, cooking and food preparation, soldiers and officers tents, cameos, roll calls and pay parades, to illustrate the period and the military conflicts in which Britain fought.  At this site people could wander and learn about life for Napoleonic military families.

Gun cleaning

2nd Battalion 95th Rifles

Since its formation in 1998 the group’s aim has been to represent the riflemen of Wellington’s army just as they would have been whilst on active service during the Peninsular War (1808-1814) and the Waterloo Campaign of 1815.

The Piper

The uniforms and equipment are based on examination of original examples, research into the uniform regulations and study of contemporary images in order to create as accurate an image as possible. Drills and tactics are also taken from extensive research into, and experimentation with, the drill manuals of the time.

Living history displays will demonstrate the way of life of women and children of the unit through living history re-enactment you will see for yourself the way of life for a family of a Napoleonic soldier. Meals are based upon period recipes and cooked over an open fire, which is at the heart of the camp.

Arena Demonstrations
Arena Demonstrations
action from the main arena on Willow Walk

The 95th Rifles become quite famous in the public eye through the popular television series ‘Sharpe’ starring Sean Bean in 1993, which was based upon novels by Bernard Cornwell.

Society of King George the Third

The society of King George the Third aspires not only to recreate the look, dress and lifestyle of the late 18th century Royal Navy. They bring to life some of the aspects of 18th century life with a focus on The Queens Rangers. At their encampment there will be talks, and tactile learning and in particular you can hear about the gory subject of surgery of the period. You will be able to watch their static drills in the arena.

32nd (Cornwall) Regiment of Foot

First raised in 1702 by Colonel Edward Fox as ‘Edward Fox’s Regiment of Marines’ to fight in the War of Spanish Succession, the regiment was renamed as the 32nd Regiment of Foot in 1751.  During the Napoleonic period, from 1808 to 1814, the 32nd Regiment was heavily involved in the Peninsular War, fighting in a number of key battles including Salamanca.  In 1815, two days after helping to halt the French advance at the Battle of Quatre Bras, the regiment was stationed in the centre of Wellington’s army at the Battle of Waterloo.  They fought stoically, eventually helping to defeat Napoleon’s troops, but suffered the heaviest loss of any British regiment; starting with 647 men of all ranks on 16th June 1815, after two days of fighting reportedly just 131 men were left standing.

action from the arena

Association of Crown Forces

Formed in 1982, following several years of in-depth research, the Association of Crown Forces (1776) became the first UK re-enactment society to specialise in the American War of Independence. Over the years they have visited just about every English Heritage site, many of the National Trust, county shows and individual historical venues such as Portsmouth Historic Dockyard and the national Army Museum. Television opportunities have also presented themselves with such programmes as ‘The Border Country’, Richard Holmes excellently presented ‘War Walks’ and Simon Schama’s documentary ‘Rough Crossings’.

The group portrays the flank companies of the Coldstream Guards, the light infantry and grenadiers, as they appeared at the start of the American War of Independence and also have a number of members who portray the non-combatant camp followers and families in their living history encampment.

Napoleonic Redcoat Soldiers

British Soldiers from a number of regiments will set up a series of Napoleonic encampments and provide activities and demonstrations of military and camp life, including; recruiting for King George and taking the King’s shilling, drill parades, musket firing, cooking and food preparation, soldiers and officers tents, cameos, role calls and pay parades, to illustrate the period and the military conflicts in which Britain fought.   The weekend included a look at life on campaign, a Soldier’s Wife’s story, the opportunity to meet the soldiers and camp followers and a full timetable of arena displays.

With the Deputy Town Mayor

HMS Royal Marines

Audiences can witness Musket displays and drill demonstrations. Meet Admiral Nelson’s Jacktars and the Royal Marines of the late 18th Century, and find out about life on board in the times of Trafalgar and Waterloo!

Image by David Marshall

Georgian Trades & Crafts

Pole-lathe Turning

Watch our professional pole-lathe turner make furniture of the period using a man-powered pole-lathe, an exciting and visual method of working.  Find out about furniture of the era and the cost of producing chairs and tables in the Georgian period.

Georgian Dyer

We were pleased to have a Georgian dyer who chatted to people about dying clothes and other items during the Georgian period.  Audiences could find out about the use of various plant dyes and minerals to dye cloth.  She prepared various colours and the variety of colours available during the period.  An amazing display that educated and entertained visitors.

Georgian Dyer by Tom Scrace


The 18th century was a particularly exciting time for studying the cosmos, as Isaac Newton had finally settled that the earth circles the sun!

Early in the century Edmund Halley, the Astronomer Royal, had predicted that a strange comet seen several times in history would return in 1758 – Halley died in 1742, would his prediction come true?   Meanwhile a common clockmaker called Harrison had proposed to the Royal Astronomical Society that one of his clocks could solve the difficult problem of measuring longitude at sea! Naturally the Society was scornful of this idea, believing that only learned astronomers could solve the problem, so they refused to take him seriously. Who will turn out to be right?

Astronomer – image by David Marshall

The Square Programme

By the beginning of the 18th century, the influence of British naval power had opened up trade routes across the known world, merchants and traders often became very wealthy by using these routes to import new, luxury goods into England.

The cost of protecting this trade fell to the Navy, and thus to the British government. It seemed obvious that those who were profiting from international trading should contribute to the cost of policing it. So a list was drawn up of luxury items that would be subject to import tax. By 1760 this list numbered over 800 items. This, plus the Excise Duty, which had been introduced during the English Civil War in order to offset the cost of the conflict, (which still exists today as VAT!), meant that a large proportion of the cost of most luxury items, were taxed!

The opportunity for making money from smuggling was great and provided the perfect venue for “free traders” to operate in.

Isaac Gulliver – King of the Smugglers

Wimborne’s famous, or infamous, smuggler made an appearance out about his life and adventures! Audiences could discover about smuggling gin, silk, lace and tea and all dressed in Georgian smock clothing.

The Smuggling Boat on display was a 27ft long Georgian Smuggling Boat which took centre stage on the Square, the boat would have been used to ferry smugglers, like Isaac Gulliver, and his supplies from ship to shore to gain access to the small coves on the Dorset coastline and avoid detection by the Royal Navy and Customs & Exercise men.

There were interactive displays, talks and demonstrations with the smuggling crew on hand throughout the day to tell you all about navigation, seafaring, sea-cooking, net and rope making, trade and life on board ship during the period.

Children’s Pirate Cannon Game children kept Isaac Gulliver playing with a mock cannon and learnt all about the role of smugglers!  Great fun and no loud bangs!

The Minster Green Programme

Georgian Puppet Show

Punch and Judy, but as you have never seen them before.  Mr Punch was confronted by the Duke of Wellington who proposes to enlist him into his army to fight against Napoleon!  Bring a blanket and enjoy the show. Children packed out the Minster Green throughout the weekend enjoying Mr Punch’s antics.

audiences enjoying Georgian Puppet Show – images by David Marshall

Children’s Georgian Pottery Making Workshop

The Georgian period saw a growing trend for tea drinking with its accompanying pottery, and also the very first Toby jugs appeared for the amusement of beer drinkers, where the fashionable tricorne hat worn by the pottery figure provided a perfect lip for the jug.

Children’s Georgian Games

Children were able to try out traditional game played during Georgian times– play with ball and cup, quoits, peg dolls and hobby horses, and discover nine mans morris and post-mills and explore the Museum kitchens and make some Georgian food.

Museum of East Dorset – image by Richard Frewer

The Museum of East Dorset Programme

The Museum was open and had free entry all weekend, with a great opportunity see the amazing transformation that has taken place at the Museum of East Dorset.

Georgian Surgeon (Medicine)

Learn about health and disease from our Georgian Surgeon, demonstrations will show how wounds and diseases were treated, using traditional methods and practices of the period.  Discover blood letting – great fun for all the family!

Dr Coffin at the Museum

local Wimborne Doctor and Surgeon demonstrated in the Museum gardens – Dr Coffin enthralled audiences throughout the weekend to answer gruesome question about medicine during Georgian times.

Image of Dr Coffin by David Marshall

Dandy Bikes

Thank you to the Dandy Bikes for making an appearance informing curious audiences about the history of the bikes.

Dandy Bikes -image by Neil Davidson

Allendale House – East Dorset Heritage Trust

Georgian Pastimes, Hobbies, Games and Handicrafts were on display throughout the weekend

How did people while away their time in Georgian days?  Visitors could find out what card games were fashionable, about the stitching ladies did, the secret language of fans and more.

Image by David Marshall

18th Century Tea Making

How much did tea cost, how was it sold and what was the etiquette for making, serving and drinking? Fascinating demonstrations of this time-honoured tradition in the Georgian era was made throughout the weekend in the setting of Allendale House a Georgian Manor House built by Charles Castleman.

Tea drinking -Image by David Marshall

18th Century Food & Diet

Learn about Georgian recipes learn about the ingredients and who would have enjoyed the treats on offer.

Georgian ‘Fashion Show with the Mannered Mob

 We had two fashion shows with a difference as they parade the fashion’s of the Georgian era. Seating is limited for this free event, so to ensure your place please register using the links below.

Allendale Centre Programme

Longsword and Maypole Dancing

Photo by Chris Wales providing music for the Maypole Dancing

Longsword dancing is a little know English dance tradition that have been performed in England for over 300 years.  It’s a complex dance in which the swords are woven into different patterns. Historically, swords were made from many things: miners drills, old saw blades, barrel hoops, ‘scutching’ knives, etc, as real swords would have been too expensive for most people. Longsword dancing at the History Festival is performed by Southern Star Longsword Dancers.

Longsword Dancing

Maypole dancing for everyone

Free sword dancing workshops were available on request at the Allendale Centre , with magical tales and legends with Storyteller Madeleine.

Maypole dancing – image by Richard Frewer

Storytelling for children with Madeleine Grantham

Local storyteller told stories of Georgian times.

Walford Mill Programme

Bread Making and Corn Grinding Demonstrations

Corn grinding and bread making demonstrations took place Walford Mill on the river Allen – Walford Mill was once one of the towns many working Mills but is now a delightful open studio for resident Makers and Artists.

Street Scenes with our Georgian Wimbornians by State of Play Arts

Three characters stepped into the future from Georgian Wimborne: widow, Mrs Elizabeth King, silk merchant and owner of Priest’s House,  William Castleman, solicitor and owner of Allendale House, and Gerald  Rowe, Guardian of the Wimborne and Cranborne Workhouse. They visited Walford Mill for an hour each day giving insight into their lives and times to anyone who stopped to listen to them. They performed at Allendale House, The Museum, Walford Mill, Willow Walk and the Model Town throughout the weekend. This project was funded by Dorset Council cultural funding and produced and directed by State of Play Arts.

As part of the Festivals Community programme Magnificent Mills we held a family workshop to Create the Ghost of Walford Mill with Emerald Ants artist Sarah Butterworth.

Children and families were invited to join Emerald Ant on Sunday at one of two craft workshops which is part of a WHF project ‘Magnificent Mills’ to learn about the heritage of the Mill through craft. (Arts Council England funded)

Wimborne Model Town programme

Georgian Jester and Juggler

Tom Fool from Tingtang Theatre Company

entertained visitors to Wimborne Model Town with greet sillyness throughout the day and three fire show on stilts and an amazing apple feet – called “napple on the numbskull

Performances of Napple on the numbskull were performed at the Model Town

Tom Fool from Ting Tang Company – image by Chris Wales


Huge thanks to Wimborne Camera Club photographers for taking images on the day and to photographers Tom Scrace and Andrew Chorley.