In enthusiastic anticipation of our (now annual) David Starkey lecture at Sudeley Castle & Gardens, I needed to meet with our distinguished and champion historian to plan the all-important final details, as well as a formal title for his forthcoming Tudor lecture.
David graciously invited me to have lunch with him in his London residence to discuss ideas. “I’m very busy but I will always make time for the chatelaine of my favourite castle” he said with his celebrated charm. He also challenged my knowledge of London and said “I bet you don’t even know where Highbury is!” Well, I didn’t want to admit to that, so I programmed my Satnav accordingly to get me there in good time, and having taken several wrong instructions and running late, I arrived at the most charming Georgian cottage in Old Highbury flustered and full of apologies.
My diplomatic host brushed all excuses aside and we enjoyed the most delightful, engaging and enlightening afternoon I have had the pleasure of enjoying for a long while. First of all, the David Starkey whom we all know – as the brilliant historian and authority on the Tudors, a controversial charmer who often sets occasions alight (sometimes inviting outrage) with his witty and challenging views – is also an keen collector of art and objects as well as an imaginative cook.
While stirring the tantalising pot in his narrow galley kitchen, he had his mobile phone crooked twixt ear and shoulder bidding successfully on some vintage chairs in a local country sale. For lunch, I was treated to a delicious soup de poisson followed by an indecently rich and indulgent salade de fois gras.
The conversation, admittedly rather one sided, was stimulating to say the least, ranging from such erudite subjects as the Magna Carta and its relevance to today’s European issues and the scheming’s of Henry VII in plotting the Tudor dynasty, to a few salacious titbits of celebrity gossip which left me aghast with insider knowledge.
Time naturally flew and as my host was soon due for another engagement, I thanked him for the most luscious lunch and fascinating afternoon. However, just as I was leaving I remembered my important mission:- “Now David”, I said, “what about a title for your Sudeley lecture?”
“Oh, I can’t think about that now, I’ll put my mind to it on the morrow” and with a wink the mischievous historian bid me farewell.
As good as his word, the very next day, David announced his much anticipated talk would be titled “The Death of kings: royal succession under the Tudors”.
Book your tickets now for the Annual David Starkey Tudor Lecture at Sudeley Castle & Gardens, held on 7th September 2014, by calling 01242 602308.
Elizabeth, Lady Ashcombe