War Horse heads to English Heritage Festival of History for dramatic World War I trench recreation

By Richard Moss | 06 July 2011
a photo of a man dressed as a First World War soldier holding the reigns of a horse
© Courtesy English Heritage
Event: Festival of History, Kelmarsh Hall, Northamptonshire, July 16-17 2011

Among the exotic parade of Romans, Norman Knights and Napoleonic soldiers greeting visitors to English Heritage’s annual living history spectacular, The Festival of History, a recreation of a World War I trench threatens to steal the show.

A section of World War I trench and a stretch of no man's land have been specially recreated by a team who have been working on Steven Spielberg’s latest movie, War Horse, to give visitors a glimpse into life for men and horses on the battlefields of the Great War.

Ancient Wisdom Historical Art Direction and Battlefield Partnerships, a team of archaeologists, historical interpreters and actors, will be on hand to bring the realistic ‘set’ to life. 

a photo of a man dressed as a World War I British officer smoking a pipe in a recreated trench
© Courtesy English Heritage
Employing some of the same movie magic used on the Spielberg blockbuster, the recreation comes complete with water filled shell craters, shattered trees and twisted barbed wire – perfect for a series of First World War re-enactments. 

“The battlefield scene we are creating for Festival of History will become an elaborate stage for our performances from the front line, told in the words of the real soldiers who experienced it,” promises Andy Robertshaw of Battlefield Partnerships.

“We will be touching on the role of horses during the Great War and involving some live horses in the performances. Between shows visitors will be able to walk through the trenches and meet the Tommies.”

There will also be a chance to visit an Estaminet where the soldiers of the Great War relaxed - away from the front line with some hot food and a friendly face.

War Horse author Michael Morpurgo, whose bestseller has been transferred to stage and now onto film due for release next year, will be talking about his writing on Saturday.

More pictures:

a photo of a man dressed as a soldier aiming a rifle
© Courtesy English Heritage
a photo of a man dressed as a First World War British officer in a trench dugout
© Courtesy English Heritage
a photo of a man dressed as a First World War British soldier in trench
© Courtesy English Heritage
A photo of a man dressed as World War I soldier in a trench with sandbags
© Courtesy English Heritage
a photo of men dressed as World War I British soldiers in a recreated trench
© Courtesy English Heritage
  • With more than 1,000 historical re-enactors taking part and 50 different shows and displays to choose from each day the festival offers a unique journey through history. For more about the Festival of History and to book online visit: www.festivalofhistory.org.uk 
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