New cultural festival for Alcester

Fulke Greville.

ALCESTER is to host a new cultural festival to celebrate the life of one of its forefathers — Fulke Greville.

The Fulke Greville Festival, which runs from 28th to 30th September, will celebrate the life and achievements of one of its most famous, yet largely forgotten, sons, Sir Fulke Greville. Sir Fulke, who died 390 years ago this year, was Lord of the Manor of Alcester during the late 16th and early 17th centuries and owner of Warwick Castle.

He was a talented poet, dramatist and statesman, who was a significant individual at the courts of Elizabeth I and James I where he was Treasurer of the Navy and Chancellor of the Exchequer.

A contemporary of William Shakespeare, Greville is also regarded as a generous patron of many of the leading writers of the day including Christopher Marlowe and Ben Johnson. To mark the occasion, an historic festival of talks, lectures and tours have been organised to include presentations by leading researchers on his poetry and plays, many of which have been compared in quality to Shakespeare’s own celebrated sonnets.

The programme will include visits to the site of his former residence Beauchamp Court, Alcester, Warwick Castle and his ghostly tomb in the Chapter House of St Mary’s Collegiate Church, Warwick.

Adam Busiakiewicz, an art historian and festival co-organiser, said: “Not many people in Alcester know that such a fascinating figure in British history was born on their doorstep. Fulke Greville was a true Renaissance man, and was a poet, soldier, jouster, courtier and politician.”

Amongst his good deeds for the townsfolk of Alcester was the giving of £300 of his own money to build a market hall. Alcester Town Hall, as it is now known, celebrates its 400th anniversary year in 2018 and will be the main festival venue. Sir Fulke, a long-serving statesman of the English Court, was granted ownership of Warwick Castle in 1604 and was raised to the peerage by James I with the title of Lord Brooke.

He went on to transform the castle from a ruin into the lavish residence we are familiar with today. Tragically, he died aged 74, after being murdered in his London home when he was stabbed in 1628 by a greedy manservant called Ralph Haywood.

The servant believed that he had been cheated in his master’s will. After the act of savagery, Haywood then turned the knife on himself. Greville’s physicians treated his wounds by filling them with pig fat rather than disinfecting them, the pig fat turned rancid and infected the wounds, and he died in agony four weeks after the attack.

His body was brought back to Warwick and buried in the Collegiate Church of St Mary. The patron of this landmark festival is the Rt Hon. Lord Brooke, ancestor of Sir Fulke and eldest son and heir to the present Earl of Warwick.

Anyone interested in finding out more about the festival can attend a free launch event tomorrow, Wednesday, at Alcester Town Hall from 7pm, for the unveiling of the full programme of events. To book a place or for more information e-mail