Ten things to do in . . . August

Get out and about this month with our guide to the very best historical attractions


1. Watch knights dance with a lance


Event: Jousting Tournament

Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire

For three consecutive days, skilled horsemen will challenge the Duke of Marlborough for the title of jousting champion at Blenheim Palace. Plus there will be exciting bird of prey displays and opportunities to try a spot of archery.

7–9 August

08700 602080


2. Be wowed by a 12th-century transformation

Restoration: Dover Castle, Kent

Years of hard work and millions of pounds have gone into the revamp of Dover Castle’s keep, which is due to be open to the public this month. The new-look keep has been renamed the Great Tower and has been designed to resemble its appearance in the 1180s when it hosted Henry II and his entourage.

1 August

01304 211067


3. Relive the onset of war

Exhibition: Outbreak

Imperial War Museum, London

On the morning of 3 September 1939 a grave Neville Chamberlain declared to the nation that war had begun between Britain and Germany. Now, 70 years later, the Imperial War Museum is staging a major exhibition that explores the early days of the conflict through a variety of people who experienced it. Discover the stories of the first British soldier killed in action, the reporter who broke the news of the invasion of Poland and a German Jewish evacuee from the Kindertransport.

20 August–31 December (Free entry)

020 7416 5000  


4. Enter York’s historic gaol

New visitor experience: York Castle Prison

York Castle Museum, York

See for yourself the dank cells where Dick Turpin among others resided inside York Castle’s historic prison. Just opened again after a revamp, the gaol experience contains imaginative audio-visual elements that bring to life the stories of those incarcerated here. 

01904 687687  


5. Have a medieval bank holiday

Event: England’s Medieval Festival

Herstmonceux Castle, East Sussex

For the 17th year running, Herstmonceux Castle is the setting for a fun weekend of jousting, battle re-enactments, falconry and a range of living history activities. A highlight is sure to be the besieging of the fortress by 1,000 warriors in traditional attire.

29-31 August 

020 8416 0398  


6. Investigate the Ice Age

New visitor centre: Creswell Crags, Derbyshire

Archaeologists announced, in 2003, that they had found prehistoric art engraved into the rock of a cave at Creswell in Derbyshire. Until now, visitor facilities have been lacking. At the end of June though, Britain’s first national centre for the Ice Age was opened there, in a brand new building housing a permanent display about Palaeolithic Britain and a temporary exhibition space that will host archaeological gems. Plus you can take a tour round the cave and see first-hand the 13,000‑year-old engravings on its walls.

01909 720378  


7. Enjoy 2,000 years of history

Event: Sutton Hoo Through the Ages

Sutton Hoo, Suffolk

This popular annual living history event at Sutton Hoo features re-enactors from the Roman period until the Second World War. As well as watching displays, you can learn historic crafts and take part in activities. On the 70th anniversary of the famous archaeological discoveries at Sutton Hoo the event organisers promise that this year’s festival will be “bigger and better than ever before”.

8–9 August

01394 389700


8. Experience underground life with Churchill

Exhibition: Undercover

Churchill Museum, London

The Cabinet War Rooms were created in 1938, a year before the outbreak of the Second World War, which saw them become the home of central government. The secretive actions of Churchill and his entourage are now explored in an exhibition that displays documents and artefacts from the wartime years. You can see some of the prime minister’s letters and the text of a speech he made in the War Rooms. 

27 August–27 August 2010

020 7930 6961 


9. Tell your tales of fatherhood

TV opportunity: A Century of Fatherhood

A TV production company is looking for interviewees for a forthcoming BBC TV series A Century of Fatherhood. Testimony Films want to speak to men who raised children in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s as well as those who grew up in these years and would like to discuss their own fathers.

For your chance to appear on this upcoming BBC TV series please contact Pete Vance or Hazel Fearnley

0117 925 8589

Email: pete.vance@testimonyfilms.com

10. Look forward to a slice of Scotland’s past

Forthcoming conference: Scotland’s Global Impact

Eden Court Theatre, Inverness

Tickets are now available for Scotland’s Global Impact, a three-day conference in October that will explore the country’s rich history and its impact on some of the furthest corners of the globe. First Minister Alex Salmond will be opening proceedings and followed by a diverse array of expert speakers. You can take a peek at the programme on the website.

22–24 October