Spitfire flies over one of the many incredible attractions at the village’s 2-day history festival

Visitors to a Leicestershire village will step back in time this summer as an exciting festival celebrating its history takes place for the first time. The Desford Heritage Festival will feature nine themed areas, including Medieval and WWII – and you’ll even get the chance to see a Spitfire flypast and a Tiger Moth aerobatic show.

The festival, which will take place on Saturday July 2 and Sunday July 3, was originally intended to be a launch event for the new Desford Heritage Trail. The attraction will feature 16 panels telling the stories behind key moments in the village’s history.

Residents have been fundraising for years to raise the £12,000 needed to produce the boards. However, we then began formulating a plan for something special to announce the track to the world.

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Resident and history teacher Kate Twitchin, who leads heritage walks in the village, told LeicestershireLive how the plan came to life. She said: “I drew on a piece of paper this idea of ​​dividing the village into time zones so we could really show how far back Desford goes.

“I introduced it to some people in the village – who thought I was crazy – but said they would support it. We ended up with 16 people who bought into this idea and wanted to make it happen,” said Kate said.

Now, 18 months later, she is amazed at the scale of the event. “My phone keeps ringing, with people wanting to get involved. The day we had the Desford Colliery Band was amazing, and the day the RAF got in touch to do a flyover was amazing.

“I never imagined we would get to this point. Now, in addition to kicking off the trail, we are having the biggest party this village has ever seen.

“All community groups are involved, they are all valued. Desford has a lot to offer residents and visitors alike.”

The nine time zones people will be able to travel through are WW2, WW1/Edwardian, Stuarts/Civil War, Mining, Framework Knitting, Victorian, Tudor, Medieval, and Desford Walk of Fame.

82nd Airborne Reenactment Group

“In each time zone, we’ve brought in actors, musicians, vehicles, food vendors, re-enactment groups – a wealth of entertainment that will hopefully bring each zone to life. As we go as you move around, you’ll get a taste of what Desford, or indeed any village in the country, would have looked like.

“It will be an immersive, interactive and educational experience. To our knowledge, no one has ever done anything like this before. People from all over the country are participating, including 500 re-enactors.

“What we’re particularly proud of is that we’ve made it as inclusive as possible. A family can buy a program for £5 and that’s their full access pass to the festival. The only additional cost they could incur is if they choose to buy food – everything else is included in the program,” Kate said.

There will be WW1 and WW2 barracks, medieval encampments, military re-enactment groups, Tudor sports, costumed performers and vintage fairground rides.

You can also take part in a Victorian school life experience, enjoy maypole and morris dancing, see a collection of vintage vehicles and visit the pop-up Desford Museum.

Gloriana Reenactment Group
Gloriana Reenactment Group

The Spitfire flypast near the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight is sure to be an incredible sight, as will the Tiger Moth aerobatic show, featuring nine Tiger Moths. These specific models were chosen for the event because of their connection to the village, as Kate explained.

She said: “Desford had an airfield, which is now the site of Caterpillar, which started out as an RAF training area for pilots. This airfield trained over 15,000 pilots, who flew in things like the Battle of Britain, and what they trained in was Tiger Moths.

“It was a repair and assembly airfield, and we assembled over a thousand Spitfires which left for use in the RAF in combat. I hope people will realize that we deliberately chose planes that most resonate with our history.”

According to Kate, it’s also a coup to have the Desford Colliery Band – which hasn’t played in the village for over 40 years. The band have performed all over the world, including the Royal Albert Hall and the Sydney Opera House – and now, for the Desford Heritage Festival, they’ll be returning to where it all began.

There will be plenty of food and drink available, with a Victorian tea room with period actors, a 1940s cafe and themed menus from local pubs. At the Lancaster Arms, you can choose from a menu that made history – a medieval feast for Henry VIII hosted by Cardinal Wolsey in 1526.

A 1940s coal truck
A 1940s coal truck

This will include fillets stuffed with fresh crabmeat with orange zest and Dijon mustard or beef (sirloin strips) with fried onions, aloe fillet – three thinly sliced ​​tenderloin fillets and rolled with a filling of finely chopped egg and onion, a manchet and bungay butter, ‘jelly hippocras’ – cinnamon and ginger jelly, or ‘dysschful of snowe’ – strawberries and cream.

The Desford Heritage Trail will officially launch on Saturday morning, with guests including MP Luke Evans and Desford’s oldest resident.

Kate continued: “The panels are a snapshot of what I talk about on heritage walks. What we’ve tried to do is bring the story to life, with images, a small amount of text and anecdotes, so you have that personal element as well.

A closing ceremony will take place at 7 p.m. on Sunday evening, on the Place de l’Eglise. All residents are invited to come and toast Desford past, present and future.

Festival programmes, outlining the attractions and scheduled events on offer, are now available for £5 each from Desford Library and will be available in car parks on the days of the event. Two car parks will be available – the main one at Caterpillar, Peckleton Lane, and a second at Bosworth Academy, Leicester Lane.

Shuttles will run approximately every 10 minutes, with four stops: Caterpillar, The Bluebell Inn, The Lancaster Arms and Bosworth Academy. Visitors are asked not to drive into the center of the village.


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