Victoria Glendinning, June 6

THE splendid ballroom of the Bear Hotel was the setting for the Devizes Arts Festival talk from the biographer and author Victoria Glendinning.

Victoria had the audience in thrall with her fascinating talk on her new book The Butcher’s Daughter with a focus on the research that is required for this type of historical novel where characters are based within a factual framework.

The novel is set in the Reformation period and follows the story of a nun in Shaftesbury who, like many, was cast adrift with the dissolution of the monasteries.

Victoria was able to give the audience a real flavour of the terrible challenges of that period and the impact on these highly successful and influential institutions as well as the human impact on the largely innocent nuns and monks.

After a lively question and answer session, Victoria signed copies of her book.

Jean Edwards

Crime Scene Improvisation, Saturday, June 9
CEDRIC Fortescue, a rat catcher, is murdered by a stapler – his body has been stapled to the ceiling and there are four likely suspects, all with their own sinister motives. 

Could it be the owner of the rat factory who has released all of the rats in a dastardly plan to spread the plague and open his own plague hospital? Or Jennifer 2 who hails from dirty Trowbridge? Or Baby Fortescue, brother of the murder victim, who keeps a rat called Kevin in his beard?

Or even Jennifer 1 the evil stapler fetishist? All of this and more to be solved by cunning Detective Evan Evan with a most enthusiastic audience.

CSI brought mayhem, madness and mirth to the Merchant’s Suite on Saturday night. Playing to a packed out crowd, who clearly threw themselves into the spirit of the evening, the performers from London gave us a hilarious evening.

Fresh from their sold out shows at the Brighton Fringe Festival in May, CSI’s whacky madcap murder mystery show was silly, funny and absurd. 

Elaine Gale

Explorer Dome, June 9
GREAT fun was had by all when Explorer Dome visited Southbroom Infants School. 

The first show focused on the wonder of space and with lots of audience participation from both the children and grown-ups!

Everyone was able to explore the solar system, learning about the planets and the sun before getting a tour of the constellations within this wonderful mobile planetarium.

The second show, Disgusting Digestion, was described as a journey from plate to poo and didn’t disappoint.

This time many volunteers from the younger members of the audience were needed to demonstrate how digestion occurs.

Maybe not for the faint-hearted but all the children loved it.
Jean Edwards

Lucinda Hawksley, June 8
TEA with the Dickens speaker and author Lucinda Hawksley gave an entertaining and thoughtful talk in the Town Hall on Friday afternoon. 

Lucinda is the great, great, great granddaughter of Charles Dickens and his wife Catherine and has carried out extensive research into the lives of both Charles, his siblings and extended family, including the 10 children born to Charles and Catherine.

Her research has taken her various countries in search of her ancestors.

As well as being the great writer, Charles Dickens had a large family of eight siblings, many of whom led both wild and colourful lives.

Charles repeatedly bailed out his erstwhile relatives, rescuing their families from bankruptcy and poverty.

We heard about his daughter Katie, an artist of great talent, who attended Bedford College at a time when women were not allowed to enter university.

Lucinda gave us a lively and entertaining brief history of the family, their lives and loves.

A thoroughly enjoyable afternoon with tea and specially baked cakes of the period supplied by the afternoon’s sponsor Peter Vaughan of Vaughan’s Kitchen.

Lucinda is also a broadcaster and award-winning travel writer. We were delighted to have her.
Elaine Gale