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Primrose Hill Summer Lectures

Each year in June and July we organise a series of talks at St Mary’s to engage people in and beyond the Christian community with issues confronting our society. The talks are held on Wednesday evenings and are followed by questions. There is also an opportunity to buy books and meet the speaker after the talk. We are very proud of our growing success and the quality of our line-ups over the years. You can listen to recordings of previous lectures in our Archives :



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Gill Bennett on Spies, Lies and Disinformation - 5 June

Gill Bennett OBE is a leading authority on secret intelligence in the UK. Formerly Chief Historian of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Senior Editor of the FCO’s official history of post-war foreign policy, she has worked closely with twelve Foreign Secretaries under six Prime Ministers, from Edward Heath to Tony Blair.

In 1988, commissioned by then Foreign Secretary Robin Cook, Gill was granted full access to UK intelligence archives to investigate the historic case of the ‘Zinoviev letter’ used by opponents of Ramsay MacDonald to stir up a ‘red scare’ in the British media. Her 2018 book The Zinoviev Letter: The Conspiracy that Never Dies brings the investigation up to date, and was listed as one of The Telegraph’s History Books of The Year.

In a lecture informed by a lifetime’s insider knowledge, Gill discusses current and historic espionage techniques and points up the resonance of a 1920s dirty tricks campaign to our own ‘post-truth’ society.

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Andrew Marr on Democracy: Is British Politics Broken? - 12 June

Andrew Marr is one of our best-known political commentators. Formerly editor of The Independent, he was, from 2000-2005, Political Editor of the BBC. He continues to present BBC1’s flagship current affairs programme The Andrew Marr Show and Radio 4’s Start the Week.

Andrew’s nuanced grasp of political, social and economic history has delighted viewers in BBC documentary series such as Andrew Marr’s History of Modern Britain (2007) and its companion-piece Andrew Marr’s The Making of Modern Britain (2009). He received the prestigious Richard Dimbleby Award for services to television at the 2004 BAFTAs.

A Primrose Hill local,  long-standing friend of St Mary’s and now patron of our youth work, Andrew returns with a timely lecture on the fragility of parliamentary democracy.  If British politics is indeed broken, what can we do to mend it?

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Isabella Tree on Wilding: The Return of Nature to a British Farm - 19 June

Isabella Tree is an award-winning author, travel writer and environmentalist. In the course of her career, she has made an eloquent study of disappearing worlds in Papua New Guinea (Islands in the Clouds, 1996), Mexico (Sliced Iguana, 2001) and Nepal (The Living Goddess, 2014). Her latest book Wilding – the Return of Nature to a British Farm tells the no less urgent story of our own countryside under threat from intensive farming.

Shortlisted for the Richard Jefferies prize for nature writing, Wilding tells how she and her husband handed their Sussex farm back to nature,  renewing the ecosystem and creating a beacon of bio-diversity where rare and vanishing species flourish. In this thought-provoking lecture, Isabella argues that it is possible to feed an overcrowded planet while leaving space for the wild, and shows how quickly a ‘hands off’ approach can restore land and wildlife.

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Daniel Rosenthal on Dramatic Exchanges: The Lives and Letters of the National Theatre - 26 June

Daniel Rosenthal is an author and journalist whose definitive work of stage history, The National Theatre Story, won the 2014 Theatre Book Prize. His new book Dramatic Exchanges: The Lives and Letters of the National Theatre is a magnificent collection of off-stage dramas drawn from the correspondence of some our best-known theatrical stars.

In conversation with friends – familiar faces from stage and screen - Daniel delves into the mores and motivations of directors, actors and actresses in an evening of readings and reminiscence. Covering some of the most celebrated productions of the last half-century, his lecture offers a privileged glimpse behind the scenes at the South Bank.

Michael Frayn and Michael Blakemore will be reading with Daniel Rosenthal   

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Nicci Gerrard on What Dementia Teaches Us About Love - 3 July

Nicci Gerrard is one of our most compelling writers on social justice. Her reporting in The Observer and on social media on the care and understanding of dementia patients in the UK won the 2016 Orwell Prize for Exposing Britain’s Social Evils, and her associated campaign demands the right for family members to stay in hospital with dementia sufferers.

Nicci is also a distinguished novelist, both under her own name and as Nicci French (co-authored by her husband Sean French with whom she has written more than 20 best-selling crime novels). Her 2018 non-fiction book, What Dementia Teaches Us About Love was written after the death of her father, an Alzheimer’s sufferer, and is an exceptional study of ageing and identity. Illuminated by in-depth research and personal experience, Nicci’s lecture asks us what it truly means to care. How can we learn to value the old and invisible among us? What, at the end of a life, really matters?

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David Nott: War Doctor – Surgery on the Front Line - 10 July

David Nott is widely acknowledged as the world’s most experienced trauma surgeon.  Over the last 25 years he has taken unpaid leave from his NHS job to work, in near impossible conditions and with scant medical resources, in war zones. He has saved lives in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Chad, Darfur, Gaza, Iraq, Libya and Sierra Leone, and from 2013-14, he trained medical students and other doctors to conduct trauma surgeries in opposition-held East Aleppo. Known in the field as the ‘Indiana Jones of surgery’, he was honoured with an OBE in 2012 and the Robert Burns Humanitarian Award in 2016.

Recently serialised on Radio 4’s Book of the Week, David’s best-selling autobiography War Doctor – Surgery on the Front Line recounts his extraordinary career working with MédicinsSans Frontières, the Red Cross and the Royal Auxiliary Air Force. His lecture, with its first-hand account of courage and compassion on the front line, is set to be equally inspiring.

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The talks run from 7.00 – 8.00pm including Q & A.  Bookselling follows.  Doors – and the bar – are open from 6.30PM.


Single lecture: £12/£10 concessions (OAPs, unemployed, students)
Full Series: £60/£50 concessions  (one ticket per lecture)
Children under 16: free (a donation is encouraged)

Book online for any of the lectures in the series by clicking link below and going to our Eventbrite events page. (Online bookings are subject to a small booking fee)


You can also buy tickets from:

Parish Office. Contact us or call 0207 722 3238 for information
Primrose Hill Books 134 Regent’s Park Road, Greater London NW1 8XL
Call 020 7586 2022

Tickets are sold on the door subject to availability. 


All proceeds will go to support the outreach activities of the Church, such as the Cold Weather Night Shelter for the homeless and the St Mary’s Community Trust, a youth work project for those at risk of social exclusion, and to maintain the fabric of the church.