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Programme 2014

All sessions should last an hour, to allow plenty of time to get to the next session — with perhaps a coffee or a snack from the school canteen on the way.

Please note that some events may have to change or be cancelled at short notice -  we aim to minimise any alternations of course and will give you as much notice as possible.


18:30 Celebratory drinks before...
19:15 Festival Gala Dinner    SOLD OUT

Join us for a sumptuous three course Gala Dinner with wine, hosted by the Bishop of Oxford. Then move through to the Great Hall for an Evening with Carol Ann Duffy with music by John Sampson.  Read more

Sponsored by Bodegas Marques de Caceres

21:00 An Evening with Carol Ann Duffy with Music by John Sampson
  Carol Ann Duffy & John Sampson     Great Hall

Mesmerising words and atmospheric music combine in this collaboration between poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy and musician John Sampson.  Read more

(This event is included in the price of the Festival Gala Dinner. Separate tickets are available at £20 each.)


10:00 The Sound of Silence
  Lucy Winkett & Graham Turner     Great Hall
  The Revd Lucy Winkett, author of Our Sound is our Wound: Contemplative Listening to a Noisy World and Graham Turner, author of The Power of Silence: the riches that lie within, discuss the search for silence in an increasingly noisy world.  Read more
10:00 William and Catherine: The love story of the founders of the Salvation Army
  Cathy le Feuvre     VLR (Library)
  When William Booth met Catherine Mumford in 1852, it was the start of a story that would change the lives of millions of people across the world. Author Cathy Le Feuvre tells the fascinating personal story of the couple who founded a radical Christian movement and church which today is still impacting lives. Read more
10:00 The Sky is Always There: Surviving a Kidnapping in Chechnya
  Camilla Carr & Jon James     Liddon Chapel
  In April 1997-98 Camilla Carr and Jon James set off as volunteers in a £500 Lada stacked high with toys, games, footballs, paints and a parachute. Their destination was Chechnya and their aim was to work with children who had been traumatised by war. Two months later they were kidnapped by Chechen guerrillas. There followed fourteen months of incarceration. They tell their extraordinary story of fear and survival.  Read more
11:30 The Book of Forgiving
  Mpho Tutu     Recital Room
  How do we forgive? How do we heal the harm we have caused others? And how do we forgive ourselves? The Rev. Mpho Tutu talks to the Bishop of Oxford about her latest book, written together with her father Archbishop Desmond Tutu.  Read more
11:30 Woodbine Willie: Unsung Hero of World War One
  Bob Holman, Andrew Studdert-Kennedy & Martin Poll   Great Hall
  'Woodbine Willie' was the affectionate nickname of the Revd Geoffrey Studdert-Kennedy, an Anglican priest who volunteered as a chaplain on the Western Front during the First World War and won the Military Cross for his courage. Hear the author Bob Holman in conversation with the Revd Andrew Studdert-Kennedy, Woodbine Willie's grandson, and the Ven. Martin Poll who was until 2012 Principal Anglican Chaplain and Archdeacon for the Royal Navy. Read more
11:30 The Friday Gospels
  Jenn Ashworth with Andrew Tate     Liddon Chapel
  It’s Friday in the Leeke household, but this is no ordinary Friday: the Leekes are Lancastrian Mormons and tonight they will be welcoming back their son Gary from his two-year mission in Utah. His mother, Pauline, wants his homecoming to be perfect. Unfortunately, no one else seems to be following the script. Jenn Ashworth reads from her darkly comic third novel, and discusses its themes with Andrew Tate.  Read more
11:30 Peace of Mind: An Introduction to Mindfulness   NEW EVENT
  Chris Cullen     VLR (Library)
  More and more people are embracing mindfulness as way to keep sane in an increasingly frenetic world. Studies have shown that mindfulness is highly beneficial as a way of countering depression and emotional distress, and promoting well-being and flourishing. But what is it all about? Chris Cullen, a mindfulness teacher and psychotherapist, offers an introduction and taster session.  Read more
14:00 Choose Your Weapons: Intervention or Diplomacy?
  Richard Harries & Douglas Hurd     Great Hall
  Douglas Hurd's 2010 book Choose your Weapons: The British Foreign Secretary was subtitled '200 years of Argument, Success and Failure'. In this session, you can hear the former Foreign Secretary and author in conversation with the former Bishop of Oxford Richard Harries on navigating the choppy waters between war and peace.  Read more
14:00 A Song Among the Stones
  Kenneth Steven & John Maksinski     Recital Room
  In the sixth century, Celtic Christian monks are thought to have made dangerous and difficult journeys from the west coast of Scotland to seek solitude in Iceland. Poet Kenneth Steven reads from his evocative, pared-down sequence of poems telling their remarkable, little known story of faith, courage and determination.  Read more
14:00 Peace of Mind: An Introduction to Mindfulness   SOLD OUT (tickets available for 11:30 session)
  Chris Cullen     VLR (Library)
  More and more people are embracing mindfulness as way to keep sane in an increasingly frenetic world. Studies have shown that mindfulness is highly beneficial as a way of countering depression and emotional distress, and promoting well-being and flourishing. But what is it all about? Chris Cullen, a mindfulness teacher and psychotherapist, offers an introduction and taster session.  Read more
15:30 Was It For This The Clay Grew Tall?
  Stephen Raw     VLR (Library)
  Artist Stephen Raw talks about his extraordinary exhibition inspired by the poetry of soldier-poet Wilfred Owen which Benjamin Britten used in his 'War Requiem'. Stephen's artwork will be on display throughout the Festival weekend.  Read more
15:30 Everyman at War: The Secret Story of a War Memorial
  Clive Aslet     Recital Room
  Who were the men and women whose names are commemorated on war memorials around the country? Where did they live - and how and why did they die? Award-winning journalist and former Editor of Country Life Clive Aslet unravels the story of one war memorial, in the Dartmoor village of Lydford.  Read more
15:30 Seeing the War Differently: Stanley Spencer and David Jones
  Richard Harries     Great Hall
  Richard Harries, the former Bishop of Oxford and author of many books including The Image of Christ in Modern Art, discusses the work of the artist Stanley Spencer, and the painter-poet David Jones.  Read more
17:00 In Good Faith
  Michael Arditti & Richard Harries     Recital Room
  In an article in the Guardian last year (26 July 2013) author Michael Arditti asked why so few contemporary novelists write about faith. Why not? and does it matter? He discusses this with the former Bishop of Oxford, Richard Harries, and reads from his latest novel, The Breath of Night.  Read more
17:00 Soundings and Stories: The Poetry of Witness and Resistance
  Pádraig Ó Tuama & Malcolm Guite     VLR (Library)
  Pádraig Ó Tuama and Malcolm Guite read poetry arising from both the experience of war and the arts of peace, sounding sorrow but also celebrating the resilience of the human spirit.  Read more
18:30 Trench Humour? The Hell Where Youth and Laughter Go
  James Cary & Simeon Courtie     VLR (Library)
  War and comedy have enjoyed a partnership dating back to the time of Aristophanes, and continuing to the present day via 'The Wipers Times'  and M*A*S*H. But are there any limits? Comedy writer James Cary, co-writer of BBC Three 2013 series 'Bluestone 42' about a bomb disposal unit in Afghanistan, discusses why war provides such a rich comic material with broadcaster and author Simeon Courtie.  Read more
18:30 Spying, Seduction and Survival: Women as Undercover Agents
  Elizabeth Buchan & Jane Thynne      Recital Room
  From the heroines of Ian McEwan’s Sweet Tooth and William Boyd’s Restless to Homeland and Zero Dark Thirty on the screen, the female agent and spy is currently enjoying a boom. Elizabeth Buchan and Jane Thynne have novels out in 2014 which feature female agents during the Second World War. Are women better equipped for espionage? Come and find out.  Read more
19:00 Rambert School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance     Great Hall
  The world-renowned dance school presents ‘Atonement’, a three-movement work based on Psalm 22, Ruth, and Ecclesiastes; and other pieces.  Read more
20:30 Words and Music on War and Peace
  North Cotswold Chamber Choir with Martin Warner & Eleanor Zuercher     Recital Room
  Music and poetry on the Festival theme of War and Peace performed by the North Cotswold Chamber Choir. Musical items selected by Rachel Slade and Peter Hunt.  Readings chosen by Martin Warner with the assistance of Philip Smith; read by Eleanor Zuercher and Martin Warner.  Read more
21:00 Tenx9 Storytelling
  Pádraig Ó Tuama     Liddon Chapel
  Especially for Bloxham, join Pádraig Ó Tuama for a unique experience of storytelling on the theme of conflict. Tenx9 is a storytelling format, that began in Belfast, where nine people have up to ten minutes to tell a real story from their lives. The results are breathtaking. Read more


09:30 Parish Communion at St Mary's Church, Bloxham
11:00  The Aftermath
  Rhidian Brook     Recital Room
  Hamburg, 1946. Thousands remain displaced in what is now the British Occupied Zone. Charged with overseeing the rebuilding and de-Nazification of this defeated city, Colonel Lewis Morgan requisitions a fine house on the banks of the Elbe. But rather than force its owners to leave their home, he insists that the two families live together. Rhidian Brook, author and Thought for the Day regular, discusses his latest novel and its themes of betrayal, conscience and forgiveness in post-war Germany.  Read more
11:00 Boy Soldiers of the Great War
  Richard van Emden     VLR (Library)
  The youngest soldier who fought in the Great War is believed to have been just twelve years old. How and why so many under-aged boys were able to get to the battlefields is a complex mystery of World War I. Through a unique collection of personal testimonies and hitherto unpublished diaries and letters, First World War expert Richard van Emden tells their stories of heroism and sacrifice.  Read more
12:30 Jane Austen’s Clergy
  Elizabeth Proudman     Recital Room
  Jane Austen’s father was a clergyman, as were her brothers James and Henry. Little surprise, then, that so many clergymen appear in her novels. Elizabeth Proudman, the chair of the Jane Austen Society, introduces us to them all.  Read more
12:30 Public Schools and the Great War
  David Walsh     VLR (Library)
  The First World War consumed about a fifth of all the public schoolboys who fought, while the survivors were scarred by the loss of their friends. In his book (co-written with Anthony Seldon, the Master of Wellington College) David Walsh draws upon source material from school archives and histories to tell the stories of those young men and assesses the lasting impact the War had upon our public schools.  Read more
12:30 So A Comedian Walks Into A Church: Confessions of a Kneel-Down Stand-Up
  Paul Kerensa     Liddon Chapel
  Comedian and writer Paul Kerensa is a church hopper. He takes the stage each Saturday, and communion each Sunday, wherever his trusty satnav has sent him. Far from home, you can find comedy and God in a whole host of places, from Charismatics to Catholics to cafés to chapels on cruise-liners. It’s a tale of two circuits, of comedy clubs and churches.  Read more
14:30 Within the Eye of a Storm
  Rami Elhanan & Bassam Aramin     Recital Room

Rami Elhanan is Israeli, Bassam Aramin Palestinian. Both grieve for daughters killed in the conflict. They are both members of The Parents Circle Families Forum, a joint Palestinian/Israeli organisation of over 600 families, all of whom have lost a close family member in the fighting. Hear the remarkable story of their unlikely friendship and determination to campaign for peace in the Holy Land.  Read more

Sponsored by Lightline Pilgrimages & Christian Aid

Lightline Pilgrimages    Christian Aid

14:30 In Defence of War
  Nigel Biggar & Major General Tim Cross     Great Hall
  Pacifism is popular. Many hold that war is unnecessary, and that peaceful means of resolving conflict are always available if only we had the will to look for them. But peace is not that simple or straightforward. What was peace for the West in 1994 was not peace for the Tutsis of Rwanda, for example. In his book 'In Defence of War' Regius Professor of Moral and Pastoral Theology, Nigel Biggar, argues against the virus of wishful thinking, anti-military caricature, and the domination of moral deliberation by rights-talk and asserts that belligerency can be morally justified, even if tragic and morally flawed. Hear the author in conversation with retired Major General Timothy Cross, CBE.  Read more
14:30 High Minds: The Victorians and the Birth of Modern Britain
  Simon Heffer     VLR (Library)
  Britain in the 1840s was a country wracked by poverty, unrest and uncertainty. By the 1880s it was a confident nation of progress and prosperity. That it should have changed so radically was very largely the work of an astonishingly dynamic and high-minded group of people - politicians and philanthropists, writers and thinkers, many of whom were motivated by their Christian faith. Hear the author in conversation with the Revd Dr Edmund Newell, Principal of Cumberland Lodge.  Read more
16:00 Tea at St Mary's
  Provided by the Friends of St Mary's Church
17:00 Songs of Praise at St Mary's
  Choirs of St Mary’s Church & Bloxham School with Hook Norton Brass Band
  Free event - no need to buy a ticket, just come along and join us at St Mary's Church.