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Arts & Entertainment

Marlborough's business community becomes one big art gallery

Sculptures by ceramicist and illustrator Jacqui Melhuish, whose work can be seen at The Food Gallery, High Street, Marlborough Sculptures by ceramicist and illustrator Jacqui Melhuish, whose work can be seen at The Food Gallery, High Street, Marlborough Marlborough town centre will turn into one big art gallery this week, as almost 40 shops and offices give up windows and wall space to local artists.

Windows on Art creates a diverse trail of paintings, illustrations, photographs, ceramics and even metalwork by a local blacksmith. 

The initiative – now in its sixth year – is organised by Marlborough Open Studios, and gives art lovers the chance to sample the huge array of artistic styles on offer prior to planning their visits to studios.

This year, 43 artists will be throwing open their doors in 30 locations in and around Marlborough. Galleries and studios are open on Saturdays and Sundays from June 29 to July 21.

Windows on Art venues are open during normal shop and office hours.

For more information, including art trail maps, log on to


Photographer snaps up coveted spot

Photographer James Hourd with Steve TuddenhamPhotographer James Hourd with Steve TuddenhamLandscape photographer James Hourd is used to scouting out the best spot for his pictures, so he would have been off his trolley to turn down a pitch in Marlborough's busiest shop doorway.

Around 27,000 people a week will pass five portraits by Minal-based artist James, seen on the left wheeling a six-foot long picture of the bluebells at West Woods into position, aided by Waitrose departmental manager Steve Tuddenham.

Shoppers will also be able to see his photographs of Avebury Stones and Two Mile Down in Wiltshire, and Cape Cornwall and the Bedruthan Steps in Cornwall. 

See more of James' work at

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Pete Allen treats picnickers to An Evening of Gentle Jazz

Pete AllenPete AllenWorld renowned dixieland jazz clarinetist Pete Allen performs An Evening of Gentle Jazz in the garden of Kennet House, Ramsbury on Sunday, July 28.

Allen is well known as a clarinet and saxophone soloist, band leader and vocalist, who has performed with Kenny Ball among others. He also presented a jazz programme for BBC Radio.

The concert takes place between 5.30pm and 9pm. Attendees are invited to bring their own seating and a picnic. Tickets cost £10 for adults and £5 for under 12s.

Tickets available from Ramsbury outlets, Aldbourne Post Office and Smiths Gore in Marlborough High Street.

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It’s booking time for a feast of fun and delight at next month’s Marlborough Summer School

The King's MenThe King's MenFour thousand booklets giving full details of a feast of summer entertainment open to the public at next month’s Marlborough Summer School have been distributed in the town.

They are available in retail outlets in the High Street and reveal the delights on offer, ranging from gala events given two of the UK’s famous choirs and pop stars to recitals, lectures and political debates.

“Everything is available to local residents,” Jon Copp, Marlborough College’s director of enterprise. “You don’t have to be coming to the Summer School to catch one of the concerts. We welcome everyone’s participation.”

While entry to more than 30 entertainments is all part of the fees paid by an international mix of more than 3,000 students, they are available to the public at ticket prices ranging from £5 to £20 a seat.

Highlights of this summer’s programme include concerts in the Marlborough College chapel by the Treorchy Male Choir from the Rhondda Valey in South Wales  and the arrival of The King’s Men (pictured), a close harmony choir made up of choral scholars of the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge.

Mike d'AboMike d'AboIn the world of pop Mike d’Abo (pictured), former lead singer with Manfred Mann will be appearing with his Mighty Quintet in the College’s Memorial Hall, also the venue for The Rat Pack Vegas Spectacular Show will present the music of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis junior.

Eve LoiseauEve LoiseauAnd as the 50th anniversary approaches of the death of Edith Piaf, her memorable songs will be re-created in a concert given by Eve Loiseau (pictured) with violinist Fiona Barrow and Nurray Grainger on the accordion providing the authentic French music that won Piaf international acclaim.

The world of art is represented by a lecture by Claude Rogers on the Salisbury Cathedral painting by John Constable just saved for the nation and Nick Nelson revealing the Life and Work of David Hockney.

And Roger Vitos will reveal Love Amongst the Ruins in the seductive paintings of the pre-Raphaelite painter Edward Burne-Jones, who fled London for Paris in the wake of his turbulent affair with his model Maria Zambaco.

Lectures include one on the Curious Life and Death of Rudolf Hess given by General Peter Williams, who spent six years in Berlin during the Cold War and both guarded and provided interpretation at Spandau Prison for Hitler’s deputy.

The story of Marlborough Castle – from Hunting Lodge to seat of Parliament over 200 years – will be presented by David du Croz, head of history at Marlborough College, and the theatrical career of Dame Ellen Terry will be the subject of a lecture by actress Eunice Roberts, who has been seen on TV in Casualty, Midsomer Murders and Inspector Morse programmes.

Other events include individual piano, lute, organ and

vibraphone recitals plus a performance by the Classic Buskers. There will also be a music scholars’ concert abd a finale gala event called the SingaLongaShow! With the London Pops Orchestra, two guest star West End soloists – and the audience as the chorus.

Tickets can be bought from Sound Knowledge, in Hughenden Yard, Marlborough, phone 01672 511106 and email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

And also via the Summer School – phone 01672 892388 and email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Elinor wants to raise a political laugh in aid of her riding charity

One fascinating political event will be the appearance of acclaimed Channel Four political editor Elinor Goodman, who served on the Leveson inquiry as an independent panel member, recalling the highlights of her hectic career.

That is on top of the Question Time debate with a panel of top politicians and journalists (see Marlborough’s Question Time is all geared up for a royal birth (June 8) chaired by Michael Kallenbach.

 And the added attraction of  66-year-old Elinor’s lecture is that it is a charity event aimed at raising funds for the Riding for the Disabled Association’s branch at Wilton.

The association, whose president is Princess Anne, the Princess Royal, helps some 25,000 people a year to learn to ride, not to mention show-jumping and carriage driving skills, through a network of 500 individual voluntary groups nationwide.

I am doing it in aid of the Riding for the Disabled as I am the chair of the local branch,” Elinor told Marlborough News Online. “It helps kids with special needs from local schools learn to ride. 

“My hope is that if people like this lecture, they might pay me to do it on some occasion, and that I can raise more money for the RDA.”

As to her political memories, she added: “The lecture will basically run through the highlights of my 30 year career as a political journalist -- both comical and serious, with the emphasis probably on the funny side.

“I may touch on some of the ethical issues raised in the Leveson inquiry, but the prime purpose will be to entertain.  I was political editor of Channel Four news since its inception in l983, and lived through some pretty momentous times, like the election of Mrs Thatcher, her resignation, the Brighton bomb, and then John's majors trials and the Tony Blair's reign.”

The local branch of the RDA was in fact set up by a group of horse owners 25 years ago in Wilton. It then moved to  be based at Manton Grange, thanks to the generosity of Ken Carter.

“Every Monday we now teach about 40 kids from schools like Pewsey Vale and St John's and numerous  local primaries,” explained Elinor. “What makes our branch unusual is that we take our own horses there, rather than the RDA having to buy horses and keep them at great expense.

“So horses that might have been ‘hunting’ on a Saturday or competing at a pony club event, may be plodding round the arena on a Monday. The horses seem to know they have nervous riders and calm down accordingly. 

“All the research, and anecdotes from parents, suggests that riding can be beneficial to children with special needs.  It can help the physically disabled  with their  muscle development, and balance, while children on the autistic spectrum can improve  their communications and concentration.

“It's also one of the times in the week when they can really proud of their achievements. It is deliberately not competitive, but at the end of the term I think they all feel pleased with themselves, and,  hopefully, a bit more confident.”

Tickets £7 at the door, including a glass of wine.



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Mantonfest to keep Marlborough music fans rocking

Jo PeskettJo PeskettAvebury Rocks might be gathering moss and OneFest is GoneFest – for this year, at least  – but one local festival will be keeping crowds rocking this summer. 

The organisers of Mantonfest are promising an event “bigger and better than ever before.”

Twelve acts have been confirmed, with some familiar favourites included such as the stunning voice of young Jo Peskett - who performed for the Queen when the monarch visited Salisbury on her Diamond Jubilee tour – along with the popular Skedaddle and last year’s headliners Straight Six all returning.

Fresh faces can be seen in the additions of Swindon’s finest Josie and the Outlaw, who describe themselves as a ‘rock’n roll’ package, filled with ‘a whole lot of soul’.

The experienced indie pop band, the NewQuay Times, and American Punk Rock tribute band All Cramped Up have also been added to the list of talent on show.

Music director Stuart Whant said the event was “all about putting the fun back in fundraising”.

The event takes place on Saturday, June 29 at the Manton Grange water meadows in Preshute Lane and will run from noon through to 10.30pm.

The festival will be compered by BBC Radio Wiltshire, and proceeds go to Wiltshire Air Ambulance and the Manton Village Hall.

Official sponsors include Barbury International, Manton Grange Estate and Marlborough Town Council.

Advance tickets cost £10 for adults, £5 for children under 12, a free for under fives, and are available from Sound Knowledge. For more information log on to

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Embroiderers meet, compete and admire St John's students' work

Embroiderers – many making a distinctly contemporary use of their skills – came from across the region when the Marlborough & District Embroiderers Guild hosted the South West Regional Festival at St John’s Academy on Saturday (May 18). Over two hundred members and guests attended – representing eighteen local Guilds.

Cas Holmes Cas Holmes Cas Holmes gave the Madeira sponsored lecture on Urban Nature. Her work relates to the natural and built world and uses found materials, domestic fabrics and gathered objects. We saw slides of her installations and she explained the inspiration behind them and their construction. She was also promoting her new book Connected Cloth.

In the afternoon, Patricia Godwin from the Palm Court Theatre gave a talk entitled Anything Goes. She entertained us with her tales – from Edwardian elegance to the roaring 20's.

She has collected clothes from these periods together with newspapers and periodicals. As each garment was displayed she read snippets from these papers relating to those who would have worn them.

One of the Festival’s highlights was an exhibition by Year Ten textile students at St John’s put on by head tutor of textiles, Katie Griffin. The project was organised especially for this Festival Day.Katie Griffin of St John'sKatie Griffin of St John's

Students took digital photos around the school and these images were then printed onto calico and then stitched into designs.  The organisers declared the results to be ‘amazing’.

Festival guest Jane Lemon, an embroiderer with an international reputation who has created altar frontals for Salisbury Cathedral, viewed the students’ work and was delighted with what they were achieving.

First Prize: Red Sky at NightFirst Prize: Red Sky at NightThe main competition of the day was for embroidery on the theme of ‘Superstition’.  It was won by Lindsey Sherwood of the Marlborough Guild with her striking piece ‘Red Sky at Night’.

One of the Urchfont Manor QuiltsOne of the Urchfont Manor QuiltsThere was an exhibition of quilts from Urchfont Manor College. The present owner gave them to the Marlborough & District Guild and its chairman, Yvonne Miles, thought it was appropriate for them to be displayed as many of the members at the Festival had attended courses at the Manor.

Urchfont Manor College was a residential education college set up by Wiltshire Council in 1946.  It was closed and sold earlier this year as part of the Council’s cuts.

Details of the regular meetings of the Marlborough and District Embroiderers Guild appear in our What's On calendar.

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Suffragettes to return to Marlborough

Photograph reproduced with the kind permission of Jill MorisonPhotograph reproduced with the kind permission of Jill MorisonOne hundred years after women marched through – and were attacked in - Marlborough en route to London to demand the vote, a group of artists are to re-enact the pilgrimage.

In July 1913, women marching to from Land's End to London to protest for the vote passed through five Wiltshire towns: Corsham, Chippenham, Calne, Marlborough and Swindon.

Part of what eventually became known as The Great 1913 Suffrage Pilgrimage – which culminated in a rally in Hyde Park on 26 July attended by 75,000 people – the women were often subject to a hostile reception by anti-suffragists. 

In Marlborough their wagon was overturned and they had to be rescued by police.

To celebrate the centenary of the pilgrimage, Dreadnought South West Association – a new organisation that works with arts and heritage to champion women’s voices and stories – will tour a new play, Oxygen, written by Exeter-based playwright Natalie McGrath, along the same route as the pilgrimage. 

As well as commemorating the courage of all those who participated, the project also seeks to raise awareness of the fact that the core reasons driving the fight for women to gain the vote – to end child poverty, to end the slave trade, and to end sweated labour – concern issues that are relevant today.

As well as the full-length play and pop-up ‘episodes’ taking place both indoors and out, the project is accompanied by a series of commemorative land journeys, and will showcase a diverse range of responding arts and heritage events.

The play visits Marlborough Town Hall on Wednesday, July 17 from 7.30pm. Tickets, priced £12 and £8 are available from

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Crofton Beam Engines to chug away for moonlight event

Crofton at nightCrofton at nightCrofton Beam Engines will be pumping away throughout the evening on Saturday, May 18 for a special event run as part of the Museums At Night initiative.

The annual UK-wide festival, funded by the Arts Council, sees hundreds of venues throwing open their doors after hours, to encourage visitors into museums, galleries and heritage sites.

And Crofton will be joining venues across Europe in running an evening event, as the UK initiative runs in parallel with La Nuit Des Musées, which takes place across the continent.

Extra illuminations and lights shows are promised to visitors. The event starts at 6pm and runs until 10pm.

Crofton houses the world’s oldest working beam engine – a Boulton and Watt engine installed in 1812. Alongside it is a second ‘younger’ beam engine made by Harvey & Co installed relatively recently – in 1846.

The station started work in 1809 pumping water up to the canal’s highest level – the section between Crofton and Burbage, which was above any reliable local water source.

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