Chiddingstone Castle literary festival

Bank Holiday weekend 4 to 7 May 2019

Following the huge success of last year’s Literary Festical at Chiddingstone Castle, the organisers are expanding the 2019 programme from three to four days.

The festival will take place over the first bank holiday in May, bringing yet more wonderful author events and entertainment to West Kent, for both adults and children. The four days of talks, performances and workshops are set in the historic house and grounds and has been carefully curated to ensure there is something for everyone of all ages and interests.

Saturday 4 May: Adult programme day 1.

Saturday 4 May: Festival Drinks Party at Stonewall Park.

Sunday 5 May: Adult programme day 2.

Bank holiday Monday 6 May: Family Day.

Tuesday 7 May: Schools’ Day.

This is the Festival’s most ambitious programme yet, spilling over with richness and diversity. Subjects this year include: true crime at the Old Bailey, powerful women’s poetry, new insight on Henry VIII, soldiers’ stories from World War II, terrorism in Africa, cutting edge forensic science, 12 months of applied self help books, cookery from home and abroad, adventures in wine, revealing memoirs, thrilling new fiction, the origins and future of humanity, letters between mothers and sons, the inside track on Brexit and the current political turmoil, television personalities and much, much more.

Adult programme:

A lifestyle strand features some familiar faces from television – Giles and Mary from Gogglebox, wine expert Oz Clarke and the queen of Middle Eastern cookery, Sabrina Ghayour. To mark the 75th anniversary of D-Da, Giles Milton will shed new light on the day’s events through the tales of survivors from all sides and TV historian Tracy Borman will expose the secrets behind the Tudor throne; the men who surrounded, influenced and sometimes plagued Henry VIII.

Fiction writers include bestselling author Joanne Harris who will divulge the inspiration behind her compelling new Chocolat novel, The Strawberry Thief, published 20 years after the original bestseller. Novelist Emma Darwin will reveal her struggle with her Darwin-Wedgewood heritage and her identity as a writer in This Is Not A Book About Charles Darwin, and in a new feature the Debut Novelists’ Panel features Elizabeth Macneal, Harriet Tyce and Richard Lumsden; all fresh new voices discussing their road to publication.

BBC Radio 4 scientist Dr Adam Rutherford will join Vybarr Cregan-Reid to consider the complexity of human evolution and what our future holds in this age of technology. Marianne Powerwill discuss her quest to find out if self help books really can change her life with Jessica Pan who spent a year forcing her introvert self to become more extrovert – both with funny and moving consequences.

ITN’s Channel 5 news editor Andy Bell will be in conversation with the Guardian’s parliamentary sketch writer John Crace, author of I, Maybot about life after Brexit. The BBC’s Africa Editor Mary Harper will discuss her new book on Al Shabaab, one of the century's most successful violent jihadist movements with Edward Paice, director of Africa Research Institute.

A fascinating insight into true crime is offered by forensic scientist Angela Gallop, talking to barrister Thomas Grant, about how she has solved many high profile murders, and his history of the most sensational criminal dramas at the Old Bailey. Festival favourite Anna Pasternak returns with her new, surprising look at Wallis Simpson, drawing comparisons with the reaction by the current Royal Family to divorced American Megan Markle. Local author David Lough and Donald Sturrock will be discussing the insights and intimacies contained in letters sent between two mothers and their famous sons; Winston Churchill and Roald Dahl.

There will be new workshops for adults including poetry with BBC poetry editor Emma Harding, creative writing for wellbeing and how to get published with author and poet Sarah Salway, along with more life drawing classes from Eddie Armer, a chance to take part in a poetry exchange podcast recording and a concert from local choir The Beech Green Singers.

Children’s programme:

Celebrating 30 years of Wallace and Gromit, there will be modelling workshops for children with Aardman Animations and a chance to watch the iconic films. Family favourites, Pericles Theatre Company, will present musical performances of the much loved The Little Mermaid in The Orangery. Children can learn how to make a film with Press Play Films. Guy Parker Rees will entertain little ones with his classic illustrated book Giraffes Can’t Dance, and older children can enjoy hearing A F Harrold and illustrator Emily Gravett talking about their new book The Afterwards.

Schools’ day programme:

Once again, the Literary Festival offers a special programme for local schools and home educated children. This year it features bestselling authors Frank Cottrell-Boyce, Dan Freedman, Maz Evans, award winning poet Joseph Coelho and performances from festival favourites Really Big Pants Theatre Company.

Throughout the festival the bookshop will once again be manned by Sevenoaks Bookshop and there will be a host of delicious food and drink available from local suppliers over the bank holiday weekend, as well as the Castle’s own tea rooms. All tickets to the festival include free entry to the Castle and its collections.

Festival organiser Victoria Henderson said, ‘We are thrilled with the line up for this year’s festival; it offers such a wide variety of subjects and speakers, giving our visitors this wonderful opportunity to hear from so many high calibre authors, to take part and really immerse themselves in the joys of the spoken and written word. All are welcome, and as ever we aim to offer something for everyone.’

Tickets are available online from 1 March 2019 at

#ChiddingstoneCastle #LiteraryFestival

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