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Chiddingstone Castle Literary Festival May 7-10th 2020!

By Liz Robinson on 10th March 2020


Due to the current uncertainty caused by the coronavirus outbreak, the Chiddingstone Castle Literary Festival has decided to postpone the releasing of tickets until the situation is clearer.

Chiddingstone Castle Literary Festival is quite simply an absolute delight for literary lovers. Running this year from 7 to 10 May, it is taking place over the VE Day bank holiday weekend. Offering performances and workshops as well as a fabulous list of authors for kids through to adults, take a look and see if anything calls out to you. I’ve been for the last few years, sitting in on fabulous talks from debut authors, being captivated by non-fiction writers, right through to listening in wide-eyed awe to the great Ian Rankin. The setting really is something, with the marquees sitting right up to, and wrapping around the castle. You can wander the grounds and pop into the lovely cafe or explore the food vans on offer, plus a visit to the castle rooms at some stage is a must.

Thursday 7 May is Schools Day - a special programme for local schools and home-educated children

Bank Holiday Friday 8 May is Family Day and VE Day

Saturday 9 May is Adult Day and the Festival Drinks Party in the evening at Stonewall Park

Sunday 10 May is another Adult Day

The event is capturing the spirit of the 75th Anniversary of VE Day on Friday 8 May which is Family Day, there will be events to celebrate and commemorate, with 1940’s songs, Lindy Hope and Jive performances, and the sounding of the Last Post. There will be a number of author talks, including bestselling children’s author Michael Morpurgo and LoveReading4Kids sponsored events with Piers Torday and Anna Fargher and Lucy Strange. There’s a one-woman show by Danyah Miller celebrating 75 years of Pippi Longstocking, and a Tiger Who Came to Tea party. Atelier Theatre Studio will be performing The Nightingale by Hans Christian Anderson, Aardman Animations offer clay modelling sessions of characters from Shaun the Sheep, and you can make your own film animation with Press Play Films. With workshops in creative writing and illustrations, plus how to make a magazine with Scoop Magazine, there are also stories and songs and a street party with trestle tables to picnic at - doesn’t it sound wonderful! 

The list of authors appearing on Saturday 9 and Sunday 10 May is fabulous, with the festival announcing: 

'This rural corner of Kent welcomes literary giants over this weekend. Alexandra Shulman ex-editor of UK Vogue brings some glamour and share her fashion industry insights in Clothes and Other Things that Matter. We are joined by erudite historians Andrew Roberts on Churchill and Leadership in WarTom Holland on the enduring legacy of Christianity in his epic DominionAndrew Lownie on the lives and loves of Lord and Lady Mountbatten and Radio 4’s Neil MacGregor on his latest series Living with the Gods. Emily Brand discusses the Fall of the House of Byron with Robert Sackville- West, author of The Disinherited and guardian of Knole House in Sevenoaks, whilst Clare Mulley reveals the extraordinary stories of The Women Who Flew for Hitler. Local historian Linda Porter returns with her new book on the mistresses of Charles II in conversation with Paul Lay, editor of History Today and author of a new book on Cromwell. The Times’ walking correspondent Christopher Somerville reveals the fascinating histories of Britain’s cathedrals in conversation with Andrew Ziminski, a stonemason who has written a history of these remarkable buildings.

Award-winning cameraman Paul Conroy describes his experiences as a war photographer in Syria with journalist Marie Colvin who was shot dead alongside him on a mission in Homs. William Sieghart, founder of the Forward Prize for Poetry and contributor to the Telegraph brings his Poetry Pharmacy to the festival, prescribing poems as remedies to cure and give comfort. Also offering well- being is Sue Stuart-Smith in conversation with Marian Boswall about the benefits of gardening in her new book The Well-Gardened Mind. A panel of experts including Lord ShinkwinDr Amit Patel, Paul Polman and David Forbes-Nixon discusses the need for industries to create more jobs for the disabled, highlighting the difficulties they face on a daily basis as seen in Amit’s book about his sudden blindness and his guide dog in Kika and Me. Two remarkable young women Lara Prior- Palmer and Georgie Codd talk about their experiences; one riding in the Mongol Derby a 10-day race on horseback across Mongolia, the other about fighting her fear of fish by learning to swim with sharks.

Novelists this year include bestselling author Maggie O’Farrell in conversation with Cathy Rentzenbrink who divulges the inspiration behind her compelling new book Hamnet, along with the undisputed king of crime fiction Peter James whose latest book in his Roy Grace series will be just published. He will be discussing real and fictional crime with ex-Metropolitan Police Commissioner John Sutherland. We are thrilled to be joined by the leading lady of literary fiction Joanna Trollope talking to Rowan Pelling, exploring the issues at the heart of a modern family with her trademark wit and warmth, in Mum & Dad.

This year the festival offers a huge range of workshops to inspire and encourage; Julia Wheeler (ex- BBC correspondent) hosts Oral Storytelling: a first step to memoir writing, Emma Harding (BBC Poetry Producer and playwright leads a Poetry workshop, Sarah Salway returns with two Creative Writing workshops: from the Real to the Surreal, artist Gilly Lovegrove will hold three sessions of Still Life art classes. Following his Poetry Pharmacy talk William Sieghart offers individual sessions for those needing a poem prescribed for their needs. For children there is a chance to make the characters from Aardman Animations’ latest film Farmageddon, to learn film animation with Press Play Films, to write stories with authors Lucy Strange and Anna Fargher and to illustrate their own books with illustrator Pete Williamson.

Our annual Festival Drinks Party takes place in the beautiful house and grounds of Stonewall Park in Chiddingstone Hoath, generously hosted by the Fleming family. Held on Saturday evening, this is a wonderful opportunity to meet authors, fellow festival lovers and committee members up close in intimate yet impressive surroundings'.

Festival Organiser Victoria Henderson who is our highlighted Industry Insight for March, 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.’ 

Pre-registered guests and Friends of the Festival can browse the programme and plan their visit from 8 March with priority booking starting on 15 March: General release of tickets begins on 20 March. Ticket prices: individual adult tickets £14.00, children (aged 3-13 inclusive) £7.00, infants aged under 3 free. 15% discount applies on purchases of 5 tickets and more in a single transaction. Workshop tickets vary in price, see booking page for details.

To pre-register for priority booking please visit:

LoveReading is again thrilled to be sponsoring three of the events and you have the opportunity to win tickets:


One Family ticket (2 adults, 2 kids or 1 adult, 3 kids) on Friday 8 May, to see either Piers Torday (The Frozen Sea), or Anna Fargher and Lucy Strange (Umbrella Mouse to the Rescue and Our Castle by the Sea).


A pair of adult tickets on Saturday 9 May to see Maggie O’Farrell (Hamnet)

See our competition page for details.

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