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Chelsea History Festival 9-13 October

Celebrate history in the heart of Chelsea alongside the family this October with a variety of educational activities.

Chelsea History Festival is launching this October 2019 and there’s loads of events taking place at some of London’s finest institutions on the iconic Royal Hospital Road including the National Army Museum, Royal Hospital Chelsea and Chelsea Physic Garden.

As well as a programme of world-class speakers, historians and performers taking the stage from Wednesday 9th of October, there is also a bunch of brilliantly curated events for little Londoners. Our favourite family activities are on Saturday October 12th and include the Medicine Through Time free workshop at Chelsea Physic Garden, the Marching Drills and Giant Games for Little Soldiers at the National Army Museum and the Hidden History Hunt and British Army Jazz orchestra at the Royal Hospital. Children can immerse themselves in fun activities from giant board games to marching drills and seed planting workshops.

Picture supplied by Army

The festival’s Director, Harry Parker comments: “I love the way Chelsea is a mix of paradoxes; it represents a history of royalty and anarchy, it feels conservative and yet bohemian, it is both local while also international. The festival will be strongly rooted in this heritage. It feels like the perfect stage for a history festival.”

There’s loads of other historical activities for those of us with older children (or perhaps enjoying an evening off!) The festival opens on Wednesday evening with Remembering Arnhem. An immersive re-enactment, followed by celebrated veteran Victor Gregg in conversation with World War II expert Rick Stroud and eminent historian Anthony Beevor discussing the famous ‘battle of the bridges’.  On Friday, Max Hastings focuses on another dramatic episode from the last war with The Dambusters Story and the following day New York Times bestselling author Sonia Purnell introduces the unsung female hero and spy who helped us to victory in 1945 in A Woman of No Importance.

During the festival, a wide range of other engaging historical moments are also explored – from esteemed broadcaster and journalist Dan Jones talking about the Crusades, to David Nott sharing his heroic experiences as a surgeon on the front line. Presenter and historian Helen Castor reveals the insecurities behind Elizabeth I’s steely exterior and visitors can experience the reality of the elaborate clothes worn by women under her reign in an interactive demonstration of The Elizabethan Wardrobe. The clues to our past hidden in present-day London are revealed by Paul Wood in London is a Forest and Lara Maiklem, who shares the intriguing artefacts she’s discovered beside the Thames, recently documented in her BBC Radio 4 Book of the week, Mudlarking.

To mark 80 years since the events which sparked the Second World War, three leading authorities debate the definitive history of the German invasion of Poland in a lively discussion. Author Jack Fairweather, writer Roger Moorhouse and War Studies lecturer Dr Paul Latawski discuss the pivotal role Poland played in the Second World War – from the German invasion in 1939, through to the setting up of the Free Polish Government in Exile in London.

For full festival information and ticket prices (ranging between £0-£30) and information on the exclusive Weekend Ticket Bundle (buy three tickets over Friday/Saturday and receive 25% discount) visit: