Wickham Festival – a song by Steve Knightley

Wickham Festival

The tiny Hampshire village of Wickham has been immortalised in song by Steve Knightley.

The Show of Hands singer has penned a special anthem in praise of the picturesque setting in the heart of the Meon Valley.

It is a beautiful melodic and poetic tribute to an area which has always been close to his heart and the Hampshire-born musician plans to perform it during the Wickham Festival which runs from August 4-7.

He laughed: “I haven’t quite decided whether it will fit better in my Friday solo set or on Saturday with the full band – so people will just have to get a weekend ticket and come to both!

“It was a real honour and a thrill to be asked by Nicki Oliver of the Parish Council to write this song which was supposed to mark the 900th anniversary of the village in 2020.

“But the pandemic meant the festival was cancelled and the celebrations had to be put on hold so I am delighted I will finally get to perform it in a few weeks.

“The hardest part of writing it was deciding what to leave out as there are so many distinct elements to the village from the Boxing Day motorbike gathering to the annual Taste of Wickham Food Festival, the water meadows, the medieval square, the Travellers’ Fair and of course the music festival plus so much more.

“Normally when I write a song, I have some music in my head but this was slightly different as I started with the lyrics. I didn’t want to go all traditional and sing “Twas in the year of 1120” I wanted it to be more poetic.

“I am very pleased with the result. It is quite expressive with a section for people to sing along and I think it captures the atmosphere and history of this little village which is so special to so many.”

Festival organiser Peter Chegwyn added: “The Parish Council have been big supporters of the festival over the years because it puts this tiny village on the map with fans coming from as far away as Australia and the USA.

“Steve’s early years were spent in Cosham and he has been a regular performer here so there really is nobody better to write this tribute. It is a beautiful song and we are really looking forward to him playing it for all our fans.

“For such a small village it really does have a lot going on. It has a rich history and a bright future and the song manages to capture all of that.”

Knightley will play a solo set on August 5 with Show of Hands performing the following night as part of a stellar line-up which includes the Saw Doctors’ only UK festival appearance of 2022 and their first gig in England for five years.

The four-day festival kicks off on Thursday August 4 with 10CC, Los Pacaminos with Paul Young, Chris Difford from Squeeze, Oyster Band and Grace Petrie.

In addition to the Saw Doctors, Friday features Martha Wainwright, Rumer, Spooky Men’s Chorale and Skinny Lister.

Saturday will deliver high-octane shows from the Levellers, Ferocious Dog, the Undertones, the Dhol Foundation and Show of Hands while Sunday features the Waterboys, Gilbert O’Sullivan and the Men They Couldn’t Hang.

Knightley added: “It truly is one of my favourite festivals. The music reaches all age groups and classes and tastes. There is a really lovely atmosphere with kids able to roam freely and safely while parents listen to some great music. I love to wander round the site and let fans buy me drinks!

“Peter Chegwyn and I go back a long way so this song is also for him. I really hope the crowd like it as much as I do. It will certainly be on the short-list for next year’s new album.”

Four-day tickets are currently on sale at £200 with Under 16’s admitted half price and Under 10’s gaining free admission. Day tickets are also available. A weekend camping pass is £30 and parking is free.

See www.wickhamfestival.co.uk for more details.

Song For Wickham by Steve Knightly

This village is ever on the edge of change

But their church at the crossroads has stayed the same

From May when the Morris men greet the dawn

To the mill where the Chesapeake timbers sawn

The fete, the china, the strawberry teas

Ducks under the bridges to the leats and leas

Boxing Day when the bikes change gear

The pubs in the Square the barrels and the beer

I will be

In the Meadows when the sun sets sail

I will be

On the bridges and the parks and trail

I will be

In the heart of the downland hills

I will be

Where the Meon is rolling still

The butchers, the Cow, the chalk and the sea

Romans walked beneath these old oak trees

Ghostly echoes in the halls at Knowle

Some were lost some made whole

I will be

In the Meadows when the sun sets sail

I will be

On the bridges and the parks and trail

I will be

In the heart of the downland hills

I will be

Where the Meon is rolling still

Long summer evenings hear the thump of the bass

By Autumn the thousands will have left no trace

Of the fairground vans the chaos and the clatter

Dame Mary said “It’s people that matter”

We all give our spare time to run folking.com. Our aim has always been to keep folking a free service for our visitors, artists, PR agencies and tour promoters. If you wish help out and donate something (running costs currently funded by Paul Miles), please click the PayPal link below to send us a small one off payment or a monthly contribution.