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The hugely popular show becomes an annual fixture

MP Stan Newens entertaining the Loughton Festival crowd last year

The first ever Loughton Festival, held in April last year, managed to pack an extraordinarily wide range of events into one short weekend, at a number of different venues. There were scholarly lectures, an art competition, readings of famous locally-written poetry, organised rambles in Epping Forest, and creative writing workshops for would-be authors.

The festival could not have been more loved, even though there were no beer-tents, tombola stalls or piped 'music' badly distorted through enormous loudspeakers! There was such a rush on ticket sales that some events were all but sold out.


More than the sum of its ingredients

This great mix of the arts - prose and poetry, painting, walking and speaking, looks likely to become the mark of all Loughton Festivals to come, for this year Loughton festival returns with a bang! The now familiar and very popular formula has been cooked up afresh, but this time some more exotic spices have been added to the pot.


As well as a fine series of lectures on local literary luminaries (and a famous artist or two, plus one on the founder of the Scouting movement and another on one of Shakespeare's plays - which was first performed locally) at Loughton Methodist Church and High Beech Church, there will also be a "foot-tapping musical evening" at Lopping Hall, led by Loughton Operatic Society and the Stud Muffins Band - if that eclectic mix doesn't get your foot doing something then nothing will!

The very well-attended doses of fresh forest air return again, with a series of inspiring walks led by the West Essex Rambers in two locales - Loughton's Conservation Area and a particularly beautiful part of Epping Forest. Book early for these - or you might find yourself setting off just as the early birds are finishing, and we don't want to conga through the Forest. Or do we?


All tuned up

The new addition of a musical thread continues to be woven through the Festival, with a concert at High Beech Church given by the locally-based Felicitas Chamber Choir to round off a balmy summer evening.

On another of the Festival's evenings, Sue Taylor, Loughton Festival's Organiser, will give a series of readings from the 17th century writer Lady Mary Wroth of Loughton Hall and her contemporaries, including Ben Jonson, who regularly visited Loughton Hall. Sue will be joined by recorder players and by the Erato Consort, who will sing madrigals from the period.

A  highlight of the session will be the premiere of In This Strange Labyrinth How Shall I Turn, a madrigal especially written for the evening by Loughton composer David Lewiston Sharpe, to accompany a sonnet written by Lady Mary Wroth.

There will be a delightful fine art exhibition at Loughton Library, displaying fine prints of local watercolour scenes painted in the 1830's by James-Paul Andre the younger, whose paintings were often exhibited at the Royal Academy. What a great chance to see how charming the area was in those good old days.

Modern photographs of the scenes will be exhibited alongside, and will reveal how little the landscape has changed in 170 years - yes, it's just as charming as ever! Tony O'Connor, of Epping Forest District Museum (which managed to save the collection), will present an introductory talk on the artist and his work.


Everyone can do it!

Last year, the children's competition was art-themed; this year it's a walking competition at Roding Valley Recreation ground, for children of all ages, up to and including 99 - but you must bring your parents along, so that could be a bit tricky for some.

A programme of writers' workshops will be held again at The National Jazz Archive in Loughton Library, with a session hosted by the Forest Creative Writers' Group, and a chance to meet some local published writers including Imogen Gray, Pam Eaves and David Stevenson, who will be on hand to help would-be authors.

The Loughton Festival is so packed this time, that it has been extended to cover two weekends plus the week in between - so even if you can't come one weekend, you don't have to miss out altogether. The programme runs from Saturday 3rd May until Sunday 11th May, and full details and ticket-ordering info are available at the official Loughton Festival website at

The Loughton Festival has also made an appearance on the Loughton page at Wikipedia.


Image credits:

James-Paul Andre watercolours Copyright Epping Forest District Museum
Photo of Loughton Operatic Society Copyright LOS
Photo of West Essex Ramblers Copyright WER
Photo of Stan Newens taken by Lawrence Greenall

For More Information please Contact WAHS




Copyright Waltham Abbey Historical Society, 2007.