Warwickshire’s oldest church, St. Peter’s, dating from the ninth century, aptly provides the venue for such a theme, its acoustics widely recognised by many international performers, some of whom return for this festival.

Organisers The Wagen Trust charity, which raises funds for the church and village, has ensured the centenary of the outbreak of WW1 is commemorated in the festival.

The last night, Saturday 14th June, invites the audience to join in marching songs like It’s a Long Way to Tipperary and Keep the Home Fires Burning, tunes likely to poignantly echo down the church drive to the village war memorial, honouring 12 who gave their lives.

Led by the Berkley Salon Ensemble, formed 15 years ago from members of the world-famous City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, this programme will nostalgically also include light music evoking the days of the Palm Court orchestra, the illusion enhanced by male players sporting black tie, the women instrumentalists in sober dress.

International cellist James Barralet, who appeared at the successful 2010 event supported by music lovers from nearby villages and towns like Henley and Stratford returns with the Werther Ensemble to his home ground on Monday 9th June for the first of the festival’s four concerts.

The ensemble’s programme of English chamber music will include pieces by Frank Bridge, Walton and Elgar.

On Wednesday 11th June adaptations of recent popular music including Adele’s theme for Skyfall contrasts with madrigals, singularly appropriate for a location where until the 14th century an adjacent Benedictine priory perhaps resonated with the chanting of its monks.

This performance will be by Voices from the City of Birmingham Choir, supported by flautist Jessica Gabbott and harpist Kristina Kennedy, conducted by the CBSO’s Julian Wilkins.

No strangers to St Peter’s, where they have recorded commercial CDs, Warwick’s Armonico Consort will on Friday 13th June celebrate traditional folk songs with new arrangements of favourites like Wraggle Taggle Gypsie O!, Now is the Month of Maying and Greensleeves.

John Lawton, secretary to the Wagen Trust said: “Essence of England is our third festival using this lovely old church to highlight its acoustics and give people of the village and surrounding area a musical feast.

“Paying normal professional fees to put on good quality concerts is costly and we are seeking sponsorship support from businesses and individuals.
“Any profits will enable the trust to extend its funding activities for projects that help the church and support the local community.”

Tickets, £15, are available from Pat Phillips on 01564 793114 or by emailing patphh@btinternet.com

Free parking adjacent. All concerts start 7.30 pm.