Chelsea History Festival

The Chelsea Society is supporting the first Chelsea History Festival, which will take place 9–13 October 2019 along Royal Hospital Road at founder venues: the National Army Museum, the Royal Hospital Chelsea and Chelsea Physic Garden. The all-new, five-day event will bring the past to life through a programme of world-class speakers, historians and performers.

Inaugural year

The festival opens on Wednesday 9 October, the 75th anniversary of Operation Market Garden, one of the most daring campaigns of the Second World War. Celebrated Arnhem veteran Victor Gregg will be in conversation with bestselling historian Rick Stroud, followed by a lecture from Antony Beevor on the famous ‘battle for the bridges’.

In its first year, the Chelsea History Festival will host more than 35 events including talks, concerts and family activities. A diverse programme of free and ticketed events has been designed to inspire, enlighten and entertain visitors from near and far. The festival will provide a platform for both established authors and emerging talent to help make history more accessible.

Headline events

The main event on Thurs 9th October is an evening performance of Vaughan-Williams’ The Lark Ascending , featuring one of the world’s leading lyric baritones, Roderick Williams. The concert takes place in the beautiful Wren Chapel at the Royal Hospital Chelsea.  On Friday Max Hastings will talk on his new book, Chastised: The Dambusters Story, 1943, which will be published this September.

Saturday 11th October is set to be the principal day of the festival with over 20 scheduled events; from the formidable Sonia Purnell with her New York Times bestseller A Woman of No Importance, to history walks around the neighbourhood, and David Nott sharing his experiences as a surgeon in Aleppo.


In London’s Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, the festival is set to become a mainstay in the capital’s cultural calendar. Events will take place across three iconic sites on Royal Hospital Road in Chelsea: the National Army Museum, an institution that tells the stories of soldiers who have shaped world history over 350 years; The Chelsea Physic Garden, a botanical oasis founded in 1673 with a collection of global historical significance; and the Royal Hospital Chelsea, an exquisite building and open space founded in 1682, designed by Sir Christopher Wren and home to living history, the Chelsea Pensioners.

The founder of Britain’s Chalke Valley History Festival, James Holland has been consulted on the schedule, together with the Chelsea History Festival’s creative director, artist and author Harry Parker. Holland says: “It is great to see the Chelsea History Festival join the calendar of history events in Britain. Royal Hospital Road in Chelsea is so rich in heritage and provides a magnificent setting at the heart of one of the great cities of the world. Being so easily accessible to many millions of people makes it an ideal location in which to share the stories that have shaped our world.”

The Chelsea History Festival is supported this year by media partner Country & Town House magazine. Managing Director, Jeremy Isaac, comments: “We are delighted and proud to partner with the Chelsea History Festival in its inaugural year. The team has curated a fabulous line-up of events, talks and activities with which I know our readers are going to be very engaged and I am certain that the festival is going to become a key date in the London cultural diary in the years to follow.” 

Tickets go on sale in September, ranging from £0 to £30. The full programme will be available at

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