About the festival


Irene Snelling, who died in 2004 aged 93, was a life-long resident of Limpsfield and a keen supporter of not only her church (Oxted United Reformed Church), but of the musical and artistic life of the local community. As part of the use of Irene’s bequest to the church, members agreed to sponsor The Bluehouse Festival, as a fitting legacy to the causes she supported.  

The festival was first held in October 2006, and has since been held biennially. In that time, the festival has continued to evolve, but has always been about celebrating the arts and contributing to the cultural life of the local community. Every festival has been based at the Oxted United Reformed Church – a beautiful, modern venue, welcoming to all and much loved by Irene – and has sought to deliver an exciting programme of events, catering to a diverse range of cultural interests.  

The Snelling Lecture, delivered by a distinguished speaker on a topical issue of interest, is named in honour of Irene, and has been delivered annually since 2006 (except in 2020, due to Covid). Past deliverers of the Lecture have included David Olusoga, Tim Shipman, Rev. Richard Coles, Baroness Shirley Williams, Baroness Julia Neuberger, Baroness Joan Bakewell and BBC journalist George Alagiah.