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Chiddingstone Castle Literary Festival 1 -3 May 2016

10% discount for Lovereading members plus Enter our Prize Draw to win a pair of tickets to an event of your choice.

Chiddingstone Castle Literary Festival is a NEW festival for story-lovers of all ages; set to take place in the glorious house and grounds of Chiddingstone Castle during and after the Bank Holiday weekend 1 – 3 May 2016.


The programme offers author events for adults and teenagers on Sunday 1 May; events for families and children take place on Bank Holiday Monday 2 May and a whole day of events are dedicated to schools on Tuesday 3 May. In addition to author talks, there will be drama, story-telling, children’s theatre, music, illustrations and performance poetry; not to mention sparkling wit and wisdom, a dazzling array of delicious food, tea and cakes, and cocktails.


Janet-Ellis-photo2On Sunday 1 May our wonderful line up of authors includes Juliet Nicolson, who reveals the lives of seven generations of women in the Sackville-West family – including a very honest account of her own – in conversation with Imogen Lycett Green curator of the Betjeman Poetry Prize and granddaughter of John Betjeman. Later in the day Janet Ellis, the former Blue Peter presenter, turned writer talks about her remarkable dark debut novel The Butcher’s Hook with Erin Kelly, whose novel Broadchurch was inspired by the BAFTA award-winning ITV series. Andrew Lownie and Adam Sisman will discuss their new biographies of Guy Burgess and John le Carré, whilst David Lough and Francis Beckett will compare their books on Churchill and Attlee’s money and Blair’s finances. Veteran broadcaster Sandy Gall, Major Richard Streatfeild and (ex-Radio 4 Today editor) Peter Hanington will debate the war in Afghanistan. The evening will feature a talk by acclaimed historian Antony Beevor – From Stalingrad to Syria: How Warfare has Changed, followed by a performance of The Song of Lunch by Christopher Reid with Robert Bathurst (of Downton Abbey and Cold Feet fame).


On Bank Holiday Monday there are events for all the family including a musical performance of The Tailor of Gloucester by the Pericles Theatre Company, and poetry and percussion with Brian Moses who uses a variety of instruments to underpin the rhythm of his words. Children will love Roald Dahl storytelling with Rachel Sellers. There will be musical Stories in Song by Edgelanders who are a five strong folk band; charismatic interpreters of Scottish, Irish and English story-songs from medieval times to the present day. Lady Antonia Fraser and writer Tom Hodgkinson will discuss her memoir My History: A Memoir of Growing Up about her early life and marriage to the great British playwright Harold Pinter. One of our highlights is an opportunity to meet Children’s Laureate Chris Riddell – children are invited to come along with a question and Chris will pick his favourites to illustrate – the lucky questioners he picks can take their doodle-answers home with them! Take an epic voyage through the history of Britain with Christopher Lloyd’s amazing new giant 8m long What on Earth? Wallbook and his coat of many pockets. There will be literary walks around the grounds with local historians Penny Harris and Chris McCooey and an ‘espresso’ theatre stall brewing freshly made individual plays from London’s Royal Court Theatre. Finally, Ed Caesar and Mihir Bose will hold a discussion on pushing the boundaries in sport; taking us into the world of the greatest marathoners on earth – tracing the history, the science and the psychology of running, showing us why we are drawn to test ourselves to the limit.


Tuesday’s programme is for schools, inviting pupils aged 6 to13 to hear children’s authors Philip Womack (The Broken King trilogy) and Sally Gardner (Tinder and I, Coriander) looking at myths and fairy tales in their own writing, Caroline Lawrence talking about How to Write a Great Story and her own Roman Mysteries and PK Pinkerton Mysteries series. Sally Gardner will also entertain young readers with stories from her Operation Bunny. Finally, Nicky Singer (Blue Peter award-winning author of Feather Boy) will discuss her new novel Island.


During the build up to the event, children are invited to enter a Short Story Competition for Schools (two categories: age 7-9 and 10-13). Deadline for entries is Friday 18 March (details can be found on the festival website). The winning entries will be read out on Bank Holiday Monday by Geoffrey Streatfeild (Royal Shakespeare Company/National Theatre) and winners will receive signed copies of Chris Riddell’s latest book.


Chiddingstone Castle is an impressive Historic House in an idyllic country setting, which houses the unique and remarkable collections of the late antiquarian, Denys Eyre Bower. Today it is a fascinating museum, a visitor attraction and an award-winning wedding venue.

Chiddingstone Castle, Chiddingstone, Edenbridge, Kent TN8 7AD


Lovereading members can claim a 10% discount on ALL tickets (except Early Birds) using the code: Lovereading10.


Tickets are available online: or ring 0800 033 7564. Adults £12 per performance; Children (3-13) £5 and Under 3’s Free. Festival day ticket (Sunday only): £55 for entry into all 7 events. Early bird discounts apply from 1 to 15 March – £12 to £10 – £5 to £4 – £55 to £50, Buy 5 tickets get one free. Tickets include entry into the Castle and its exquisite Japanese and Egyptian collections.


Tickets for the school events on the Tuesday can be purchased in advance by emailing: and are priced at £4 per pupil.

Click here to enter our free prize draw: we have 4 pairs of tickets to give away, 1 per event – choose between Juliet Nicolson, Janet Ellis, Andrew Lownie with Adam Sisman or David Lough with Francis Beckett. Please note that this draw is open only for UK residents and is free to enter. Multiple entries from the same email address will only be counted once and the prize cannot be exchanged for cash and does not include transport or accommodation. Draw closes on 1 April 2016. The winners will be chosen randomly from all entrants and will be notified by 8 April 2016.

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