West Horsley Place is full of 1000 years of stories. Many of these stories are those of remarkable women from Dame Juliana de Berners to Elizabeth Raleigh and Margaret Crewe-Milnes. In the spirit of those women we are championing the work of female historians and historians uncovering untold women's stories. 

We are honoured to be joined for our first History Day by four renowned female historians who will talk about their work and latest books. The day will include an opportunity to meet the authors and have your books signed as well as a chance to ask them questions. 

Author talks will take place in the barn, with an opportunity to tour our medieval manor house and gardens at lunch time included in your ticket. 

Alison Weir The Mistresses of Henry VIII

Henry VIII is famous as the King who married six times; his matrimonial adventures have been a source of enduring fascination for centuries, but relatively little is known about the King`s extra-marital liaisons. He prided himself on being a virtuous prince; when it came to sex, he was discreet, even prudish, so the evidence for his affairs is sparse. Yet it is clear that he took a number of mistresses, enjoyed fleeting sexual adventures, and was as promiscuous as most Renaissance rulers. Alison Weir has crafted a fascinating narrative from the fragmentary sources, which throws light on Henry VIII`s private life, revealing striking insights into the man and his psyche.

Dr Alison Weir is the top-selling female historian in the United Kingdom, and has sold over 3 million books worldwide. She has published twenty-one history books, including Eleanor of Aquitaine, The Lady in the Tower and Elizabeth of York, and thirteen historical novels. Her latest biography is Queens of the Crusades, and her latest novel is Henry VIII: The Heart and the Crown. 

A selection of Alison's books on Henry VIII and the Tudor court will be available to purchase for signing. 

Daisy Dunn A Women's History of the Ancient World

Award-winning classicist Daisy Dunn has written the first ever female-led history of the ancient world. Ahead of the publication of her book, The Missing Thread, she discusses how, far from being bit-players, women were in fact the real creators of antiquity. From Sappho to Artemisia, Cleopatra to Fulvia, Agrippina to Boudica – and the many nameless in between – the story of the past is truly one of magnificent and highly-skilled women. 

Daisy Dunn is an award-winning classicist and author of seven books. Her newest, The Missing Thread: A Women's History of the Ancient World, will be published in May. Her previous, Not Far From Brideshead: Oxford between the Wars, was selected for Radio 4's Open Book and long-listed for the Runciman Award. Daisy is also a critic for The Spectator and Spear's and editor of ARGO: A Hellenic Review. She grew up in Surrey and has supported West Horsley place by curating History Day. 

Jessie Childs The Siege of Loyalty House

This is the story of a home that became a warzone. Basing House in Hampshire saw one of the longest and bloodiest sieges of the English Civil War. Defended for over two years by an unlikely group of aristocrats, artists and apothecaries, it became a symbol of royalist defiance and a microcosm of the wider war. Hailed by Simon Schama as 'almost Tolstoyan in its emotional intelligence and literary power', The Siege of Loyalty House was a Book of the Year in over ten publications, including the TimesTelegraph, Guardian and Spectator.
Jessie Childs is an award-winning author, historian and broadcaster. Her first book Henry VIII’s Last Victim won the Elizabeth Longford Prize for Historical Biography, and her second God’s Traitors won the PEN Hessell-Tiltman Prize for History. She reviews widely and has contributed to many TV documentaries, including the BAFTA-nominated Elizabeth I’s Secret Agents and two BBC series on Charles I. 

Helen Castor Joan of Arc: A History

The story of Joan of Arc is profoundly familiar and endlessly startling: a 15th-century peasant girl claiming to hear voices from God, who became a teenage warrior leading armies to victory in an age that believed women could not and should not fight.  Eventually captured and put on trial, she was burned at the stake as a heretic at the age of just nineteen. Five hundred years later, she was canonised as a saint. Helen Castor tells the extraordinary true story behind the myth, and explores a tumultuous moment in history when no one – not Joan herself, nor the people around her – knew what would happen next.

Helen Castor is a medieval and Tudor historian, and a Fellow Commoner of Sidney Sussex College, University of Cambridge. Her books include the prize-winning Blood & Roses: The Paston Family in the Fifteenth Century; Elizabeth I: A Study in Insecurity; and Joan of Arc, dubbed a ’triumph of history’. Her book She-Wolves: The Women Who Ruled England Before Elizabeth was made into a BBC TV series. She has presented a range of programmes for BBC TV and radio and Channel 4, was a Booker Prize judge in 2022, and is currently at work on The Eagle and the Hart, a study of Richard II and Henry IV, to be published later in 2024.

Important Information:

Ticket cost: £40

Event timings: 10 am-4.30 pm

Venue: Barn

Tickets includes all four talks, plus access to explore the manor house at lunch time

Hot drinks & light bites are available to buy from our pop-up partner coffee van. Please note that there is no other catering on site. However you can also a lunch box when you buy your ticket or bring a picnic lunch along with you. 

Suitable for 16+ (under 18s must be accompanied)

Please support our local independent book shop: Cobham Bookshop by buying books at the event, which you can have signed by the authors.