Step into Richmond and back in time to enjoy a fortnight of fun performances, workshops, costumes, and comedy as the town celebrates its rich heritage at George Fest 17.
The festival is a fun way to explore the history of Richmond, North Yorkshire, which was founded in 1071 but flourished in the Georgian era between 1714 to 1837.
Richmond benefited from the prosperity brought by trade in corn, wool, knitting and lead – and the town became an important hub for social activities.
To reflect its new-found social status and wealth, beautiful buildings began appearing across the town and it gained a reputation for elegance with a ‘season’ that became very popular with polite society.
These influences are still visible today in its gorgeous Georgian architecture, such as the imposing King’s Head Hotel which opened in 1725, and the world-famous Georgian Theatre, built in 1788 by Samuel Butler.
The Grade I listed Georgian Theatre Royal is now the oldest working theatre in its original form in the UK, and a fascinating attraction.
A tour around the theatre is a must – funny, entertaining and interesting, there’s nothing stuffy about the guides as they bring the stage back to life with their lively tales. The stories will transport you back in time to the days when the actors slept in their dressing rooms, the entire tour walked miles between theatres after performances, and the audience ate, drank, smoked and even relieved themselves in the stalls.
The theatre is also home to Britain’s oldest surviving stage scenery – a beautifully intricate Woodland scene.
But this isn’t a theatre living in its past – it still hosts performances throughout the year from music to magicians, and classics to comedians. The building is even a wedding venue for those looking for a dramatic start to married life.
If a visit to the Georgian Theatre Royal whets your appetite for more history, then George Fest 17 during August is must-do.
There’s a huge programme of events including guided walks, fascinating talks, and performances revealing how Georgians dressed and what music they enjoyed.
And despite there being almost 300 years between the Georgians and modern-day society, we do have one thing in common: a love of gin, which will be celebrated at a special tasting evening with 18th century style refreshments.
For more information on George Fest 17, visit www.richmond.org/georgefest/