CHEPSTOW’S long and colourful history is being celebrated with a weekend festival to mark 75 years of the town’s history society.
Historical re-enactments and fairs will take place in and around the castle, and film and theatre shows, lots of stalls from local history groups and displays of old photos will be housed at the town’s Drill Hall.
The Chepstow Society, which is the town’s local history and amenity society, hopes the events will stimulate residents’ memories of the town.
The festival kicks off at the Drill Hall today (Wednesday, May 17), with films and talks about historic activities on the Wye and Severn.
Tomorrow (Thursday, May 18), stage and screen actor Rosamund Shelley is presenting a one-woman show, supported by the Wales Night Out Scheme, about the lives of Cardiff-born dramatist and entertainer Ivor Novello and his mother.
On Friday, May 19, there will be films of the ‘son et lumière’ shows featuring local residents that were presented in the castle some 20 years ago, introduced by the shows’ producer, Ned Heywood.
On Saturday, there will be displays by local history groups inside the Drill Hall.
Then on Sunday (May 21), families are invited to a re-enactment of life in Norman times, within the walls of Chepstow Castle itself.
Outside the Castle, in another re-enactment, there will be activities by The Guild, a group of 17th century soldiers.
Also on Sunday, the Chepstow Society will start a process of capturing the memories of those who lived in the town in the 1950s, 60s and 70s.
Residents who remember those times are invited to the Drill Hall, to look at old photographs of the town, and perhaps contribute their own pictures and memories.
Guy Hamilton, who chairs the Chepstow Society, says:
“We all know that Chepstow is a historic town, and for the last 75 years the Chepstow Society has been in the forefront of informing people about its history and the importance of protecting its unique environment.
“With this Festival, we hope to involve many more people in the town, in discovering more about the area’s heritage – and we also hope that they will make their own contributions, in recalling the town as it used to be.”
The Chepstow Society - a small voluntary charity organised by local residents - was set up in 1948 by teacher and historian Ivor Waters and others. It established the town’s first museum, and published many books and booklets about the town, as well as setting up the trail marked by many plaques explaining Chepstow’s history.
The Society now holds regular monthly meetings and talks in the Drill Hall - open to all – and arranges social excursions, and walks around the historic town centre in the summer months.
Volunteers to help out are always welcome – and those who join the Society (£12 per year) will receive regular updates, discounted entry to our monthly talks, and – new this year – discounts on membership of Cadw.
To view a full programme of the weekend’s events, go to www.chepstowsociety.co.uk.