Holidays: Take Tea with Morse at Morse Code Secrets at Woodstock; Some of Britain's Top Novelists and Authors Are Heading for the Midlands Next Weekend. Travel Editor PAUL COLE Previews the First Woodstock Literary Festival

Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England), October 9, 2005 | Go to article overview

Holidays: Take Tea with Morse at Morse Code Secrets at Woodstock; Some of Britain's Top Novelists and Authors Are Heading for the Midlands Next Weekend. Travel Editor PAUL COLE Previews the First Woodstock Literary Festival


Byline: PAUL COLE

AH, Woodstock Festival. Jimi Hendrix, Ten Years After, Sly & The Family Stone, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Country Joe & The Fish.

Yasgur's farm. The Summer of Love.

No, not that one. Woodstock Festival 2005!

Inspector Morse, Anne Widdecombe, Ned Sherrin, Fay Weldon, Michael Buerk, Robert Hardy.

Woodstock is turning over a new leaf with its inaugural literary festival.

And the October 13 to 16 writers' wonderland has already attracted a host of big names.

As part of the 'Wake Up To Woodstock' programme, the festival is expected to attract visitors from all round the world.

And the little town just eight miles north of Oxford is abuzz with anticipation.

It's your chance to hear some of Britain's leading authors reveal how they came to write their books, talk about their passion for writing, and their ideas behind best-selling novels.

You'll hear talks at the beautiful Town Hall right in the centre of historic Woodstock. And what better place is there to join a book-reading group than over tea at Harriet's Tea Rooms?

At the Feathers Hotel, you can take tea with Colin Dexter, creator of Inspector Morse, who'll be chatting about his cultured copper and the area in which his cases were set.

Renowned historian Sir Roy Strong will give an illustrated talk at the Bear Hotel and movie and TV star Robert Hardy will speak at Fletcher's House, now home to the Oxfordshire Museum.

There's a unique opportunity to learn about the Churchill family in Blenheim Palace, no less, where Winston Churchill was born.

And not forgetting the younger generation, there are events for children with John Foster and Ian Whybrow.

'We promise you this will be a weekend to remember!' says Festival Director Sally Dunsmore.

'We look forward to welcoming you to Woodstock, a town enhanced by its long history and its delightful small individual shops, restaurants and tea rooms.'

Legend has it that King Alfred stayed in Woodstock in the year 890 although the first firm evidence of a Royal visit is by Ethelred the Unready who is known to have held at least one council there.

The arrival of Norman kings brought about great changes, with hunting becoming very important, and large areas of forest were given over to the sport with the Saxon inhabitants driven away.

Those of the 'Clearing in the Woods' that was Woodstock were no exception and there is strong belief that they were the founders of 'Old Woodstock' which lies to the north of the River Glyme.

The youngest son of William the Conqueror, Henry I is the first to be credited with enclosing what is now Blenheim Park and it is said that parts of the old wall can still be seen. The Palace that stands at Blenheim today was built in 1715 by the architect Vanbrugh and the park landscaped by Capability Brown.

Woodstock became renowned for two crafts, those of glove making and decorative steel work. Woodstock steel, said to be made from horseshoe nails, was cut to make jewellery and other decorative items.

Today, the Town Hall, built in 1766, still dominates Market Place. To the south is the Bear Hotel, world-famous and dating back to the 13th century.

Behind the Town Stocks, Fletcher's House - a 16th century merchant's house - is home to the Oxfordshire County Museum.

Park Street, quiet and tree-lined, leads to Blenheim Park and to one of the most breathtaking views in England.

In contrast, Market Street and High Street bustle with activity, as does Oxford Street, the main thoroughfare. Each is a pleasing mix of small shops, inns and private houses where car parking is convenient and free.

There's always something going on in and around Woodstock, so your first port of call should be the town's Visitor Information Centre, situated in the heart of the town at the Oxfordshire Museum. …

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Holidays: Take Tea with Morse at Morse Code Secrets at Woodstock; Some of Britain's Top Novelists and Authors Are Heading for the Midlands Next Weekend. Travel Editor PAUL COLE Previews the First Woodstock Literary Festival
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