We have been running our Cumberland Conversations series since 2003, for the local community and an expanding audience online.
Cumberland Conversations audience at Cumberland Lodge

The series was introduced by our former Principal, Alastair Niven, and continue in the same format today, under our current Chief Executive, Edmund Newell.

We typically host three or four Conversations a year, in Flitcroft, our main conference room, with well-known guest speakers drawn from the arts and culture, the media, politics, academia and public life.

They take the format of an informal interview on stage, between our Chief Executive and the guest speaker, followed by about half-an-hour for audience questions. Refreshments are also provided, and there is often the option of purchasing a combined Conversation and dinner ticket.

Open to all

Cumberland Conversations are open to the public and free to attend, but places must be reserved in advance, as space is limited.

Wherever possible, we make recordings available to the public afterwards, and we often live-stream the events on our Facebook page.

Find out about our forthcoming Cumberland Conversations and other Cumberland Lodge events here.

Guest speakers


Dame Cressida Dick DBE QPM (former Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police)

Sophie Pender (founder of The 93% Club and one of Forbes' 30-under-30 for social impact)

Kim Samuel (founder of the Samuel Centre for Social Connectedness)



Alastair Niven (former Principle, Cumberland Lodge)

Nahid Shahalimi (Humanitarian author, artist, and activist)


2021 (online during COVID-19 pandemic)

Isabella Naylor-Leyland (Author, The Windsor Diaries)

Sue Carpenter (documentary filmmaker, writer and photographer)

Martin Stanford (news broadcaster)

Leroy Logan MBE (founder of the National Black Police Association)


2020 (online during COVID-19 pandemic)

Baroness Hale (former President of the Supreme Court)

Professor Sir Stanley Wells (Honorary President, Shakespeare Birthplace Trust)

Revd Dr Paul Edmondson (Head of Research and Knowledge, Shakespeare Birthplace Trust)



Arabella Dorman (war artist)

Sir John Madejski (businessman and philanthropist)



Tony Laithwaite (founder of Laithwaite's Wines)

Adrian Snell (composer, perfomer and music therapist)

Nell Gifford (founder of Gifford's Circus)



Dr Theodore Zeldin (Historian, philosopher and writer)

Dr Martin Parsons (Wartime evacuation expert)

Alexandra Papadakis (Publisher)



Professor Mark Williams (Professor of Clinical Pyschology, University of Oxford)

Geraldine Peers (BBC broadcast journalist)

Roz Savage (International rower)

Michael Wakelin and Rev Angela Tilby (BBC radio)



The Very Revd John Moses, KCVO (former Dean of St Paul's Cathedral)

Lord William Waldegrave (Provost of Eton College, former Conservative Cabinet Minister)

Bill Knight (Portrait photographer)

Professor Sabina Alkire (Director of the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative)



Lord (Ian) Blair (former head of the Metropolitan Police)

Professor Julie Brown (Musicologist, Royal Holloway University)

Allan Chapman FRAS (Science historian)



Lady Lucinda Lambton and Sir Peregrine Worsthorne (Writers)

Sarah Churchwell (Actress and dancer)

Chief Constable Sara Thornton (formerly Chief Executive of the National Policing Improvement Agency)

Ben Okri OBE, FRSL (Writer)



Edward Cousins (Legal Adviser and Mediator)

Professor Robin Wilson (Emeritus Professor of Mathematics, Open University)

Baroness (Emma) Nicholson (Politician and life peer)

Karen Wiseman and Antonia Keaney (Artist and Writer)



Air Chief Marshal Sir Richard Johns, GCB KCVO CBE

Alison Skilbeck

David Wood

Mark Lane

Thomas Woodcock CVO DL FSA



Virginia McKenna OBE

Philip Jackson

Nicholas Clee

Lawrence Sail



David Noble and  Daniel Pearce-Higgins QC

Canon Roger Royle

Penelope Lively



Major General Sir Sebastian Roberts

Baroness Butler-Sloss

Kathryn Jones and Julia Bagguley

Philip Everett



Elizabeth Elvin

Martin vander Weyer

Rosemary Shirley

Sir Michael Howard



Hugo Vickers

Abdul Raheem Khan, Lisa Appignanesi and Liam Gearon 

Lord Gowrie 

Brigadier John King



Norman Bettison  

Clive Nickolds



The Very Revd Michael Mayne KCVO

Sir Roger Bannister

Andrew Motion


Future events

If you would be interested in joining us as a guest speaker for one of our future Cumberland Conversations, or you would like to suggest a future speaker, please contact us on 01784 497790 or email