TV historian thrills local literary festival goers with talk on Anglo-Saxon saints

Over 160 Oxfordshire history lovers were treated to a fascinating view of the history of the Dark Ages by a renowned University of Oxford professor and star of BBC4’s factual programmes (Sunday 23 October).

Janina Ramirez’s talk ‘The Private Lives of the Saints’, held at The Beacon in Wantage, was one of the highlights of the town’s (Not Just) Betjeman Literary Festival, which runs from 22 to 30 October.

Academics are rubbing shoulders with TV presenters, authors, poets and novelists during the festival, with organisers saying visitors can look forward to an “inspirational” second half of the event which concludes on Sunday 30 October.

This year’s main festival sponsor is Renaissance Retirement, which is redeveloping the former police station on Church Street into luxury retirement apartments. Stevie Barratt, marketing manager of festival sponsor Renaissance Retirement, said: “The festival is a wonderful occasion to bring the local community together and we are delighted to play a small part.

Stevie added: “Building in the heart of Wantage, we know the excitement and intrigue this programme of talks, workshops, readings and performances will provide people from all over Oxfordshire.

“As a local retirement builder, we are delighted to support community events and the town’s (Not Just) Betjeman Literary Festival is very dear to our heart.”

Chairman of festival trustees Ben Dreyer added: "It brings national names to the doorsteps of those living in Wantage, and also pulls people in from further afield who may not otherwise visit the area. All round, a great result for the town."

Originally founded to celebrate the town’s connection with the former poet laureate and long-time Wantage resident Sir John Betjeman, the festival is now in its sixth year. Still to come at The Beacon, award-winning poet and raconteur Tina Sederholm will present ‘Till Debt Us Do Part’ on Friday, her “unflinching but comic” look at love and fiscal meltdown.

The festival runs until Sunday and tickets are still available for all events from, the Vale & Downland Museum on Church Street or the Festival Stall at The Beacon.

Renaissance Retirement was handpicked by HRH Prince of Wales to build the first ever retirement development at Poundbury, Dorchester in the 1990s, and has an enviable reputation for quality build and finishes. Its development in Wantage is scheduled to be finished in spring 2017. Please click here for further information or Freephone 0800 625 0026 or visit

Photo caption: (L-R) Dr Janina Ramirez, professor at the University of Oxford, and Stevie Barratt, marketing manager at Renaissance Retirement, celebrate the release of Janina’s new book.