Authors wow crowds at new book festival

Tony Parsons with Vikki Orvice
Tony Parsons with Vikki Orvice

Hundreds of people flocked to Flamstead last weekend for the first ever book festival in the village.

Books in the Belfry – in the medieval setting of St Leonard’s Church in the Hertfordshire village last Saturday – featured best-selling novelist Tony Parsons in conversation about his new venture into crime-writing.

There was also a session on sports writing with former Luton Town striker turned BBC pundit Steve Claridge and ex-Premier League referee Mark Halsey who was born in Welwyn as well as St Albans author Ian Ridley who ghosted their autobiographies.

The line-up included family events and workshops with top children’s authors Jonathan Stroud, Dawn Finch and Pete Johnson along with West End actor Clive Hayward.

Matt Biggs, a panellist on the long-running BBC Radio 4 show Gardeners’ Question Time also hosted a session over tea and scones.

And audiences were able to meet the authors and get books signed on the day.

Parsons said: “It was the first Flamstead Book Festival but there was good stuff all day long in a beautiful church.”

Clare Mulley, who gave a talk on her book about Britain’s first female spy in World War Two, said: “It was a lovely literary festival and in a magnficent building.”

And Berkhamsted children’s author Sue Hampton, who hosted a creative writing workshop at the popular event, said: “The organisation was fantastic. Everything was thought of and we got a warm welcome.”

Festival co-organiser Vikki Orvice said: “It was a great day.

“So many well-known authors and personalities got behind it to make it such a success.

“We’d like to thank everyone involved, especially the volunteers who worked so hard on the day.”

The festival will help raise funds needed to restore medieval wall paintings of great historical importance in the church.