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St Margaret’s Church Ale Festival

Groundbreaking residential festival for Live Art work

St Margaret’s Church Ale Festival

Based on the tradition of the Church Ale and set in the inspiring historical environment of a medieval church in Suffolk, this unique event was the first ever residential performance festival at home Suffolk, and resurrected the ancient practice of the Ale; celebrating the feast day of St Margaret (20 July) the Patron Saint of the church, with a weekend of contemporary performance, dance, film & video, communal meals and family workshops.

Funded by; Heritage Lottery Fund, Arts Council England, Suffolk County Council, Mid Suffolk District Council, East of England Development Agency, Suffolk Development Agency. Business Sponsor; Aspals Cider

‘A curatorial and administrative triumph’
Lois Keidan, Live Art Development Agency

History of the Church Ale
Outlawed in the Reformation, Church Ales were the precursor to contemporary church fetes and fairs, held to celebrate a feast day, to raise money before a wedding or to assist a family in need. They were bawdy events, held in the church yard, and adjacent fields, featuring music, dance, entertainment, game playing and the sale of food and ale specially brewed by the church wardens.

The ancient Rishangles church site is available for booking as a venue for creative projects, retreats, conferences and film locations. More information here.



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