As Gloucester gears up to celebrate one of its most important anniversaries –the 800th Anniversary of the coronation of Henry III in Gloucester Cathedral, the organisers of the Gloucester History Festival announce an exciting development. The celebrated author, TV presenter and medieval art historian, Dr Janina Ramirez, has been appointed as the first President of the Festival.
Based in Oxford, Janina Ramirez said, “With my medieval interests, a City that once boasted five monasteries, has over 700 listed buildings and one of the finest cathedrals in England is a paradise for me. I have always been a fan of Gloucester and last year had the pleasure of speaking in the stunning setting of Blackfriars Priory. I am honoured to have been asked to be the first President of the History Festival. The City has made important contributions in every era of history – none more so than 800 years ago in 1216 when the Coronation of Henry III took place in St Peter’s Priory, Gloucester. We will be talking more about this at the Festival.”
Richard Graham, MP and Chair of the Gloucester History Committee said “This is another step forward for the Gloucester History Festival. Just as Athelflaed was the first Lady of the Mercians and Bishop Rachel the first woman diocesan Bishop to sit in the House of Lords – both connected to Gloucester – Janina is the first and female President of the History Festival. Janina will be a great ambassador for history and our City.”
The Festival Committee plans to develop the reach of the History Festival considerably over the next few years and to work alongside Janina, Sarah Smyth, former Artistic Director of the famous Cheltenham Literature Festival has been brought in as Curator of the Blackfriars Talks. Sarah Smyth joined the Literature Festival, after a career in publishing , when it celebrated its 50th Anniversary in 1999 and over the next 15 years oversaw its expansion to become one of the most prestigious Festivals in the country selling over 140,000 tickets.
Cllr Lise Noakes, Cabinet Member for Culture and Leisure said, “We have recently been consulting people about the future of culture in Gloucester and there was a strong consensus from the public questionnaires on the importance of showcasing Gloucester’s wonderful heritage to more people. Janina will help us achieve this.”
Notes to the Editor:
The Gloucester History Festival runs this year from 3 – 18 September with over 100 events in more than 50 venues, including;
- Gloucester Day when the City celebrates the end of Gloucester’s Civil War siege with a colourful parade through the City led by Town Crier, Alan Myatt;
- the Heritage Open Days organised by the Civic Trust and part of the national scheme; and
- the Blackfriars Talks held in the stunning Dominican Priory in the centre of the City.
The Blackfriars Talks were set up by Richard Graham, the MP, some 5 years’ ago. More recently music has been added, programmed in many of the City’s churches by the Mayor of Gloucester, Cllr Sebastian Field.
The Festival is organised by Gloucester History Committee comprising representatives from Marketing Gloucester, the Civic Trust and a new charity GUST formed by the former CEO of Cheltenham Festivals, Donna Renney. The Festival is supported with a grant from the City Council but aims to attract more than double the Council grant in sponsorship, grants and ticket sales.
As well as her busy TV schedule, a husband and young children, Janina Ramirez is currently the course director on the Certificate in History of Art at Oxford University’s Department for Continuing Education. Janina gained a degree in English literature, specialising in Old and Middle English, from St Anne’s College, Oxford, before completing her PhD at the Centre for Medieval Studies, University of York. Her long line of successful documentaries include, Treasures of the Anglo-Saxons, The Viking Sagas; Britain’s Most Fragile Treasure; Illuminations: The Private Lives of Medieval Kings; Chivalry and Betrayal: The Hundred Years’ War; Architects of the Divine: The First Gothic Age; and, Saints and Sinners: Britain’s Millennium of Monasteries. Her most recent book is The Private Lives of the Saints, Power Passion and Politics in Anglo-Saxon England.
Henry III was the only English monarch to have been crowned outside Westminster or Winchester. Janina Ramirez will be speaking on Sunday, 11 September in Blackfriars Priory. Tickets will be on sale in July. To request a brochure please call Gloucester Guildhall on 01452 503050.
For any further information, please call Donna Renney on 0782 432 5116