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Garden Museum Literary Festival 2021

UPDATE: The Garden Museum Literary Festival at Helmingham Hall, is postponed from

Friday 19 and Saturday 20 June 2020
Friday 18 and Saturday 19 June 2021

We and our hosts Edward and Sophie Tollemache are sad to postpone, particularly as tickets had all but sold out. However, talking at length, we agreed that there are just too many uncertainties for us to go ahead this summer.

The Festival, which travels from garden to garden each year, and will only ever happen once at Helmingham. We want it to be as good as such a special setting deserves, and for our guests to be at ease meeting speakers, sharing picnics with friends, and exploring the corridors and closets of a romantic Tudor house.

All tickets will automatically be transferred to next year’s event, and ticket holders have been contacted. 

We look forward to seeing you at Helmingham on Midsummer weekend 2021.

Christopher Woodward, Director, writes:

‘When we had the idea of a Festival dedicated to books about gardens that would move from garden to garden we never imagined that we’d be so lucky. Last year, Midsummer at Houghton Hall, hosted by Lord and Lady Cholmondeley, was an unforgettable two days. And before that, Boughton House in 2017, Hatfield, Petworth and Serge Hill…

Next summer we have been invited to Helmingham Hall, one of the most romantic houses in England, by Edward and Sophie Tollemache. It will be an exploration of Helmingham’s 500 years of garden history, and of the gardens designed in recent years by Xa Tollemache, Edward’s mother.

Crossing the drawbridge over the moat into the cobbled courtyard is a rare thrill, and over two days guests at the Literary Festival will hear garden designers, gardeners, novelists and artists talk about their work and ideas in precious panelled rooms. We are incredibly grateful to Edward and Sophie, whose house is never open to the public, for sharing its inspirations.’

Tickets are, as ever, limited to 150: this is an intimate event within a family home. This summer tickets for Houghton Hall did sell out, so book now!

Please note that the Festival is on a Friday and a Saturday, as on these days the gardens at Helmingham are closed to the public.

Find out more about Helmingham Hall


Friday 19 June

Xa Tollemache on a garden well placed
Lord Tollemache, Ed Tollemache and Christine Kimbriel on the secrets of Helmingham Hall
Kim Wilkie on wild arcadia
Sue Stuart-Smith on The Well-Gardened Mind
Isabel Bannerman on writing Scent Magic
Professor Sir Roderick Floud on the economic history of the English garden
Mark Griffiths on John Gerard’s naming of plants
Emma Tennant on an artist’s pursuit of flowers

Saturday 20 June

Fergus Garrett on Great Dixter
Tony Kirkham on his favourite trees
Alice Vincent on rewilding a life
Sarah Cook, Philip Mould, Hugh St Clair on Cedric Morris
Arabella Lennox-Boyd on inspiration
Tim Richardson on Sissinghurst
Shane Connolly on Constance Spry
Carly Eck on what gardeners wear
Anna Pavord, Lady Xa Tollemache, Sophie Tollemache and Roy Balaam on a garden’s journey
Sir Nicholas Bacon and Mark Cocker on wildlife on a country estate
A garden tour with Xa Tollemache

Plus more TBA soon.