Dr David Starkey's 2012 visit to the Cumbria branch of the HA

Published: 28th November 2012

5 November 2012.

The highlight of the autumn meetings of the Cumbria branch, based in Carlisle, was the visit of Dr David Starkey. Bonfire night was his choice of date, not the branch's, which normally meets on the last Monday of the month. But such a major event in its activities was not to be missed so when Dr Starkey in reply to our invitation offered the fifth of November, as he would be on what he termed a ‘northern progress' then, the committee immediately accepted. We also changed our usual venue which is ideal for a normal branch meeting but far too small for an exceptional event.

The Richard Rose Central Academy very kindly offered us its atrium which accommodates far more than usually attend our meetings. Secondary teachers of history in schools throughout Cumbria were invited to bring their pupils. In the event about 150 people turned up, many of them ‘A' level students. While the title of his talk, ‘why 1509 was not the start of the reign of Henry VIII', was no doubt of interest to them, the main attraction was clearly the celebrity speaker. They were not disappointed. Despite his reputation of being ‘the rudest man in Britain', an image which earns him publicity as well as notoriety, Dr Starkey was courteous, considerate and polite. He chatted with the students, signed books by himself which they brought along, and posed for photographs with them. His performance, as the accompanying newspaper article reports, was spellbinding. The occasion will long be remembered as one of the most memorable in the branch's history.  

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