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Garden Museum Literary Festival 2021

We are delighted to announce that after being postponed last summer, the Garden Museum Literary Festival at Helmingham Hall, hosted by Edward and Sophie Tollemache, will now take place on Friday 2 and Saturday 3 July 2021.

All tickets purchased last year will be valid for these new dates, so we do hope all ticketholders will be able to join us this summer for two days at one of England’s most romantic historic houses.

If you are unable to attend on these dates, please contact tickets@gardenmuseum.org.uk. Tickets are currently all sold out, but any cancelled tickets will be released for sale again. Join the waitlist to be notified of any ticket releases.

Terms & Conditions

Friday 2 July

Gates open: 9.15am
Welcome Tea/Coffee: 9.30am-11am
Welcome from Edward and Sophie Tollemache: 10.30am
First talk: 11am
Final talk ends: 6pm
Gates close: 7pm


Lady Xa Tollemache – on her work as a garden designer
Ed Tollemache, Christine Kimbriel and Katherine Butler – on the secrets of Helmingham Hall
Kim Wilkie – on Wild Arcadia
Sue Stuart-Smith – on The Well-Gardened Mind
Isabel Bannerman – on Scent Mad
Professor Sir Roderick Floud in conversation with Charles Aldington – on the economic history of the English garden
Tom Stuart-Smith – on his most recent projects
Alice Vincent – on Rootbound: Rewilding a life
Tim Richardson – on Sissinghurst
Jack Farthing – garden poetry and prose readings
Adele Nozedar – foraging in the gardens

Saturday 3 July

Gates open: 9.15am
Welcome Tea/Coffee: 9.30am-11am
First talk begins: 11am
Final talk ends: 6pm
Gates close: 6.30pm


The Land Gardeners – on climate compost – healing your soil, healing your plants, healing our planet
Fergus Garrett – on Great Dixter
Tony Kirkham – on remarkable trees
Sarah Cook, Philip Mould, Hugh St Clair and Matt Collins – on Cedric Morris
Emma Tennant – in conversation with Lady Caroline Cranbrook
Carly Eck – on unearthing the garderner’s wardrobe
Charlie Porter  – on what artists wear
Anna Pavord, Lady Xa Tollemache and Sophie Tollemache – on succession in the garden
Sir Nicholas Bacon and Hugo Rittson-Thomas and Jane Owen – on wildlife and wildflowers
Shane Connolly – in the footsteps of Constance Spy
Viktor Wynd – on the UnNatural History of Plants
A garden tour with Xa Tollemache
A reflection of lockdown, chaired by Wesley Kerr, featuring Zing Tsjeng, Victoria Adukwei Bulley and Niellah Arboine
Jack Farthing – garden poetry and prose readings
Adele Nozedar – foraging in the gardens

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.’

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