We are delighted to be organising a special evening event at Ightham Mote during the Sevenoaks Summer Festival with historian Dr Ian Mortimer entitled CENTURIES OF CHANGE.  

Seats are limited to 60 because of the limited size of the Great Hall, so get your tickets early to avoid disappointment.

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Ian Mortimer –

the time-travelling historian

A special event on June 27 at

Ightham Mote

Few historians have the gift of bringing history to life in the way that Ian Mortimer does in his best-selling Time Traveller’s Guides to medieval and Elizabethan England.   In his new book Centuries of Change he keeps the myriad details of how our forebears lived their lives, what they believed and how they died firmly in focus.   But he also zooms out from the details – what it was like to see oneself in a mirror or travel on a newly-invented steam train – to ask bigger questions about the past.

His method is to take the last ten centuries and ask which of them saw the most change.   While centred on western Europe as the heartland of medieval Christendom, his analysis gradually broadens as he moves through the Middle Ages and the Renaissance and into the modern world.

Starting in the small Devon village where he lives, Dr Mortimer sketches a vivid picture of life at the start of the second millennium: ‘ The inhabitants lived a tough life, eating mainly vegetables, cheese and the hardy grains that they could grow in the acid soil, such as rye, oats and vetches. No one could read or write; there were no priests here, no parish church.’  By the end of the book, he is sceptical about the potential for travel to other planets, and argues that humanity’s old vision of breaking new frontiers of discovery is out of date as the Earth’s resources become depleted. ‘ The challenge now is not one of expansion but of self-containment: a series of problems with which the all-conquering male is ill-equipped to deal.’

On the way from then to now, the book contains some surprising insights into the great thinkers and writers who influenced not just what people did, but how they saw the world.   He plumps for Karl Marx as the agent of change in the 19 th century and Adolf Hitler in the 20 th, suggesting that not all change is for the better. 'If there is to be hope for mankind, we must accept that it may be better for us all if the principal agent of change in the twenty-first century is a woman.'

Dr Mortimer’s early academic career (he was born in Petts Wood in 1967) took him to universities and archives in Exeter, Reading and London.   He is now an independent historian who also writes poetry and novels.   Combining a rigorous approach to research with an easy accessible style, he is much in demand as a writer and speaker.


Dr Ian Mortimer will give a lecture entitled Centuries of Change  

at a special

Sevenoaks Literary Celebration event on

June 27

7.30 pm

in the historic surroundings of

Ightham Mote,

by kind permission of the National Trust.  

This event is part of the Sevenoaks Summer Festival.  

Tickets are on sale at £10 from Sevenoaks Bookshop.

Total length around 90 minutes.