The Festival is held in and around Dorchester-on-Thames, a picturesque village in the Oxfordshire countryside, where the River Thame flows into the River Thames. The main festival venue, Dorchester Abbey, has been a place of worship for over 1300 years, and stands on the site of a Saxon cathedral built by St Birinus in the seventh century.
EMF Vice-President Simon Jenkins, in his authoritative book England’s 1000 Best Churches>, awarded the Abbey a 4-star rating. The Abbey is a popular concert venue and is often used for recordings by Oxford choirs as well as other groups. The recent restoration and development of the Abbey means increased comfort and better facilities, including disabled access through the South entrance, and enhanced acoustics.
Some morning and afternoon events take place in All Saints’ Church at Sutton Courtenay (in the churchyard of which both Eric Blair, better known as the author George Orwell, and Herbert Henry Asquith, Prime Minister from 1908 until 1916, are buried), and in the Silk Hall at Radley College.
Dorchester is an ideal venue for commuters, being only 7 miles from Didcot, which is in turn a mere 45-minute train journey from London; Oxford is 8 miles north of Dorchester. The EMF runs coaches from Didcot station regularly to Dorchester throughout the duration of the Festival. Both the town of Dorchester itself and the surrounding area are very well-provided in terms of accommodation and dining establishments: please visit the Facilities page of this website for more information.