CATERHAM HISTORY FESTIVAL
A stellar line up of historians and authors joined us for Caterham’s first History Festival on Saturday 18 November. A packed audience comprised students from across the Southeast, including our partner schools, parents and members of the public were treated first-class speakers on a range of fascinating topics and the opportunity to gain signed copies of their books.
Paul Lay, Editor of History Today, spoke first on Cromwell’s Protectorate. Focusing on the little-known readmission of the Jews to England under Cromwell, he provided fascinating insights into the roots of anti-Semitism in England and the centrality of the Jews to the Millenarian mindset.
Having set the bar so high, Paul was followed by James Barr, who gave a fascinating talk on the role of Britain and France in shaping, for good and ill, the modern Middle East. Incorporating a physical map delineating the boundary lines drawn c.1910, James’ talk was erudite and engaging, dovetailing beautifully with Paul’s earlier work.
Next to speak was Giles Milton, prolific author of historical non-fiction and fiction, who brought us further forward in history, speaking on the division of Berlin between 1945-49. Charismatic and articulate, Giles provided thought-provoking insights into the often-fractious relationship between both the Soviets and the Western Allies, and between the Western Allies themselves.
After this, the audience took a well-earned break to refuel and re-caffeinate before we were treated to Marion Gibson’s exploration of Witchcraft through an analysis of thirteen different trials ranging across geographical and chronological bounds. Marion spoke in conversation with our own Rob Salem, giving a different flavour from the style of talks that went before.
Up fifth was Tom Cryer, who came to speak to us from UCL on his PhD subject of John Hope Franklin, the American Civil Rights movement, and his own passion for history. A fascinating and intellectually stimulating speech, Tom left his audience in no doubt that he has a bright future in academic before him.
Lastly, we reached our headline speaker, Sir Anthony Seldon. Sir Anthony spoke in conversation with the headmaster, Ceri Jones, on a wide-ranging and rigorous analysis of Boris Johnson’s time in Number 10. Witty, erudite, and deeply knowledgeable, Sir Anthony kept the audience gripped with sharp-eyed analysis and personal anecdotes involving the key individuals.
As the day came to an end, we thanked all of our speakers for sharing their wisdom and insight with us. A particular commendation should go to those stalwarts who attended every minute of every talk, and there was a fantastic turnout from both the school community and beyond. We look forward to welcoming everyone back again next year for the second iteration of the festival!