The Flamstead Book Festival – Books in the Belfry – ran for the first time in June 2014 and was judged by all to be a great success. We also ran a one-off special events in November 2014, with Barry Norman as our headline author. It ran for the second time in June 2015 with the event featuring Jane Hawking a sell-out in advance, for a third time in May 2016, a special event with Andy Hamilton in June 2017 and our fourth full festival in September 2018, at which Helen Pankhurst spoke to a packed audience. Following the sad and untimely death of our co-founder, Vikki Orvice, there was a special event in October 2019 with Simon Thomas.

About the Festival

Like other book or literary festivals, you will get the chance to hear from well-known authors about their books and the stories behind their books.

Although the format of each session varies, typically there will be a talk by the author – or the author will respond to questions put by an interviewer. Then there will be the opportunity for the audience to ask questions. After the talk the author will remain for book signings. You can buy the featured books from an on-site mini-bookshop, and have them signed there and then by the author.

Who we are

The Flamstead Book Festival and the one-off events are run for the benefit of the Friends of St Leonard’s, Flamstead (FOSL) to raise funds for restoration and conservation of our village church and its surroundings.

Also, we love books and want to enable others, young and old, to discover new books and to meet their authors in the beautiful surroundings of our historic church in the picturesque village of Flamstead.

The main co-organisers are:

Ian Ridley
Mary Jenkin
Mark Jenkin

Who is supporting us

Waterstones, in particular the St Albans branch have supported the Festival in the past and Harpenden Books more recently. They provide the featured books for purchase on the day.

Why funds are needed

The main venue for the Festival is St Leonard’s, the historic, Grade I listed, 12th century church at the heart of our village. In 2022, we are delighted that the roof has finally been repaired thanks to funding from the National Lottery, many generous local donors, and FoSL with a substantial contribution. However funds are still needed for the vital work of repairing and conserving the church and its surroundings to ensure its future. For example:

  • the unique mediaeval wall paintings, second in Hertfordshire only to St Albans Abbey need protection and conservation
  • the heating system keeps failing and needs replacement
  • much of the stonework is crumbling and needs restoration
  • the churchyard, much used as a “village green”, needs constant attention, which has to be paid for

The church is for everyone: not just for regular churchgoers but also for those who still like to attend festival services at Christmas, Easter, and life events such as weddings and funerals. It is also for those of other beliefs or none, or for those who just like sacred music. The building and its grounds are used for concerts and other events such as the Book Festival. For 900 years it has been the centre of our community. It has now had a massive transformation but we now need to continue that work to ensure it lasts for another 900.

The FOSL logo

Registered Charity No. 1074485