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Plymouth History Festival 2019

Plymouth History Festival 2019 is now over. Huge thanks to everybody who made it possible, from the organising teams to the many expert event providers, and especially to everyone who came and took part.

We’ve enjoyed the sounds and sights of Plymouth’s past to their fullest over the last month. The feedback we’re getting back from visitors is overwhelmingly positive and our most frequent comment is “More of the same, please!”

Stay in touch if you have any ideas or would like to be involved in next year’s festival in any capacity – we look forward to hearing from you at In the meantime, here are some images to remind you of the great times we’ve had in 2019. Click on them to scroll through at a larger size.



Week One in Pictures

If you’ve been to any of the Festival’s events so far, you’ll know that it’s been a fantastic first week. From stained glass to sailing voyages, experts have filled our senses with the intricacies of the City’s stories, both inside and out in the (occasional) glorious sunshine.

Here are some photos from the team, from just a few of this week’s events.

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Local Studies Day
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The Heritage of Central Park
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Number 1 Depot Company
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Mount Batten Open Day
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The Heritage of Central Park
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Number 1 Depot Company
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Reimagining an ‘At Home’
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Mount Batten Tower Open Day
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Neogeographies Talk
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Voyage of the Mayflower
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Reimagining an ‘At Home’
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A General History of Ears

There’s so much more to enjoy. Check out our diary for a full line-up of the events that are coming up, and let us know your thoughts on them and the festival as a whole. You can pick up an evaluation form at any of our events, or send an email to


Elizabethan House Survey

The Elizabethan House on the Barbican is currently undergoing some essential restoration and reinterpretation.

Would you like to help shape the future of this historic Plymouth property?

Peoples’ view on the ideas and proposals that are being developed are currently being sought.

If you’d like to provide some feedback (and be in with a chance of winning £50 of shopping vouchers), please take a few minutes to complete the online survey here.


Get ready for Plymouth History Festival

The seventh Plymouth History Festival begins this Saturday, opening up the city’s buildings, parks and streets with talks, workshops, exhibitions and special events. It runs until 31 May.

Throughout the month theatrical productions and re-enactors will bring the spirit of the past to life, while expertly guided tours and walks will take visitors down routes once populated by Plymouth’s most famous and infamous figures.

This year the Festival explores a range of topics, some of which are based on the themes of ‘Empowerment’, ‘Journeys’ and ‘The Great Outdoors’.

Talks and panel discussions will highlight stories as diverse as Quaker pacifism, the voyage of the Mayflower and the legacy of figures such as Nancy Astor and William Snow Harris.

As well as looking into other peoples’ lives, there are opportunities for those who want to discover more about their own place in Plymouth’s past, with a number of workshops based on family history at libraries around the city. Like many other activities, from eating medieval food to writing poems inspired by the city’s heritage, these can be enjoyed by adults and children alike.

As well as familiar locations like the Athenaeum, Synagogue, Smeaton’s Tower and Devonport Guildhall, there’s a host of buildings, parks, cemeteries and landmarks to explore. Mount Batten Tower will be open for self-guided tours on 6 and 29 May while Plympton will be running a whole week of activities dedicated to its history from 13 to 19 May.


Grab a Brochure!

You may have seen our fantastic 2019 brochures while out and about in the City, but if you haven’t they can be found at the Tourist Information Centre, The Box’s community hub on floor 5 of House of Fraser and in your local library.

Inside you can find all the information on this year’s events, with a handy diary section (rather like this site’s one here) and booking details for all our event providers, allowing you an easily browse-able resource for planning your Festival experience to its fullest!

If you’d like to stock some copies in your establishment, just email festival administrator Tricia.



Plymouth History Festival 2019 Trailer

Plymouth History Festival is only a month away, and we’re starting to get really excited! Our promotional video is out, so what better opportunity to take a look at some of the events that are featured in it…

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New Perspectives on Cook’s Voyages of Discovery
The dark pair that you can see facing the sea in the video are seen here wearing artist Helen Snell’s intricate paper designs. Helen will be giving a talk on 7th May at Plymouth Athenaeum, discussing her project “Neogeographies”, a response to prints and images that documented Captain Cook’s three voyages during the 1700s.

'The Eddystone Lighthouse', by William Daniell (1769-1837)

Keeper of the Light
Throughout 24th May there will be performances of between 10 and 30 minutes in Smeaton’s Tower, conjuring its spirit through “The Keeper of the Light”. Entrance to the tower is included with each performance, and early arrival is recommended to avoid disappointment.


Prince and Pilgrimage
Medieval re-enactment group Age of Chivalry will be present throughout Historic Plympton Festival (13 to 19 May), recounting the stories of pilgrims, princes, noblemen and ladies who lived in and passed through the area. Each day will end with an outdoor tournament between the Knights.

Double rainbow at MBT

Mount Batten Open Days
On Monday 6 May and Wednesday 29 May you can nose around one of Plymouth’s oldest and historic landmarks in a self-guided tour. Make sure you book in advance, and be sure to head to the top of the tower to take in breathtaking 360 degree views of Plymouth.