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Celebrate Father’s Day at Hylands Estate with the Essex Book Festival

Hylands Open Estate Days. Photos Chris Cook (4)
Photo by Chris Cook.

This Sunday 16 June, the Essex Book Festival and Hylands Estate present the perfect way to spend Father’s Day with a special day of music, food, and nature-themed author talks and activities.

Free Open Estate Day returns with bumper programme for June

After a break in May, Hylands’ Open Estate Days return this month with a bumper event planned for June.

Urban Food Fest’s outstanding food and craft market will be set up as usual outside the house. Expect delectable street food and baked goods, as well as varied homemade products from soaps to garden ornaments. Every month is different, so you’ll always find something new to check out. You can also enjoy great tunes from the Hot Box DJ set whilst you explore the market.

Inside the house, a guided tour will be taking place at 10am. Led by volunteers, the tour is free to join (limited spaces available on a first come, first served basis) and will take you around the stunning restored rooms of Hylands House, sharing the history of its past owners as you go.

In the Library, you can find out even more about the last owners of the house with ‘The Hanbury Years’ exhibition.

And don’t forget, over at The Stables the resident artists will once again throw open their studio doors and welcome you into their working spaces. You’ll be able to explore upstairs as well as downstairs for the day, and their shop might even offer the perfect opportunity to grab a last-minute Father’s Day gift!

Hylands Open Estate Days. Photos Chris Cook (5)
A Hawthorn Heavy Horses carriage rides past Hylands House. Photo by Chris Cook.

For those looking for an extra special experience, consider taking a thrilling carriage ride around the estate with Hawthorn Heavy Horses. These start from the front of the house and are £4 per person to join. Note, carriage rides are dependent on weather and ground conditions.

‘Restless Brilliance’ author talks

The Essex Book Festival also joins Hylands’ latest Open Estate Day with author talks and book-focused activities under the banner ‘Restless Brilliance’. Inspired by Chelmsford Museum’s exhibition of the same name exploring the life and works of legendary nature writer J.A. Baker, ‘Restless Brilliance’ brings a fantastic lineup of modern-day author talks themed around birdwatching.

The day kicks off with one of the UK’s greatest nature writers, Mark Cocker, discussing his most ambitious and wide-ranging book to date – ‘One Midsummer’s Day: Swifts and The Story of Life on Earth’. Much like J.A. Baker’s passionate tracking of peregrines more than 50 years ago, in One Midsummer’s Day Mark Cocker explores and celebrates the extraordinary and mysterious swift and its role in an inextricably connected natural world. This talk will include an audience Q&A, and there’ll be a book signing after the event.

Mark Cocker Credit Rachael Cocker
Author and naturalist Mark Cocker. Photo by Rachel Cocker.

At the heart of this Restless Brilliance day of events is a discussion on J.A. Baker’s extraordinary and impactful writing between local nature and folk history writer, Andrew Millham, and Baker expert, David Simmonds. Millham and Simmonds will explore the legacy of ‘The Peregrine’ and what the book means to Essex in 2024, whilst also discussing Andrew’s latest book, ‘Singing Like Larks: A Celebration of Birds in Folk Songs'.

Finally, Costa Prize shortlisted author Joanna Glen brings a beautiful novel to the mix with ‘Maybe, Perhaps, Possibly’ – a story of two introverts who have no idea how to fall in love. Continuing the topic of birdwatching, the novel’s main characters Sol and Addie are drawn to nature far more than to people, taking solace in birdwatching, books, and the sea. Joanna will discuss some of the themes of this brand-new novel before an audience Q&A and book signing.

Nature crafts and storytelling for little ones

There’ll also be plenty for little ones to enjoy throughout the Restless Brilliance day. Families can head over to the Terrace Room for nature and book-themed crafts, including making a bird bookmark! Perfect for book lovers and a touching handmade Father’s Day gift.

Popular storyteller Mike Dodsworth will also be back this month to inspire and delight little ones with his enthusiastic free storytelling sessions in the Drawing Room. Sessions start at 10.30am, 11.30am, 12.30pm and 2pm.

Plus, there’ll be a range of games available to play on the back lawn and plenty of spots to enjoy a family picnic – if the weather behaves!

Essex Book Festival runs until 30 June 

Hylands Open Estate Day is free to attend from 10am to 3pm on Sunday 16 June. You must book tickets to attend the Essex Book Festival author events. Spaces can be booked online.

Many more Essex Book Festival events are taking place across the county until the end of June. You can check out everything coming up on their website, as well as browse some inspiring books in their online bookshop.

Restless Brilliance: The Story of J.A. Baker and the Peregrine is open at Chelmsford Museum until 3 November 2024.

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Cherelle Nightingill
Cherelle Nightingill

Cherelle writes about Chelmsford Theatre, Hylands Estate, Chelmsford Museum, the Mayor of Chelmsford and culture and events in the city.