Well-read: Westminster Venues Collection highlights literary connections ahead of World Book Day

By Beth Barrett

Westminster Venues Collection (WVC) reveals it’s a hotbed of literary interest ahead of World Book Day.

To coincide with the international celebration on 1 March, some of the marketing consortium’s 34 venues tell their own stories of these special connections, which include The Chronicles of Narnia author C.S Lewis, James Bond creator Ian Fleming and poets Sylvia Plath and Andrew Motion.

Regent’s Conference and Events at Regent’s University London and poet Sylvia Plath.

American poet Sylvia Plath was a frequent visitor to Regent’s Park when she lived in Primrose Hill following her marriage to British poet Ted Hughes in 1956. Her visits to Queen Mary’s Rose Garden, situated immediately opposite Regent’s Conference and Events, inspired the creation of a poem with the same name, which appears in the notes section of her Collected Poems.

Regent’s University London offers a range of meeting and function rooms alongside multiple outdoor spaces in 11 acres of private grounds within Regent’s Park. Rooms include the Tuke Theatre with room for 370 delegates; The Refectory with dining facilities for 200 and Herringham Hall for meetings of 120.

St Martin in the Fields and poet Andrew Motion.

Former Poet Laureate Andrew Motion wrote a poem to mark the completion of St Martin’s renewal project, which took place between 2006 and 2008. The verse is inscribed on the railings of The Lightwell and says:

Your stepping inwards from the air to earth

Winds round itself to meet the open sky

So vanishing becomes a second birth.

Fare well. Return. Fare well.

Return again.

Here home and elsewhere share one mystery.

Here love and conscience sing the same refrain.

Here time leaps up. And strikes eternity.

St Martin’s in the Fields, on the north east corner of Trafalgar Square, has two conference spaces: The Crypt and the Gallery and three meeting rooms.

10-11 Carlton House Terrace and C.S Lewis

10-11 Carlton House Terrace, once the former residence of Prime Minister William Gladstone, is home to The British Academy, the UK’s national body for the humanities and social sciences. The Chronicles of Narnia author C.S Lewis was made a Fellow of The British Academy in 1955 (although The British Academy was not headquartered at 10-11 Carlton House Terrace at this point).

10-11 Carlton House Terrace can hold conferences, board meetings, training events seminars, lectures, private dining events and weddings for between 10 and 500 people.

116 Pall Mall and Ian Fleming

Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond, was a regular visitor to this prestigious address during World War II when it was known as the United Service Club. Fleming, who wrote 12 novels and two collections of short stories, served in the Naval Intelligence Division as Lieutenant Commander RNVR and is said to have had lunch in the dining room every week.

116 Pall Mall, designed by renowned architect John Nash, offers five floors of entertaining space and can accommodate 10-1,000 guests. The space available to hire includes subterranean brick vaulted wine bar, the grand dining room with views over Pall Mall, and two floors of modern conference/meeting suites, boasting state-of-the-art facilities and equipment.

Commenting on WVC’s connections to the literary world, WVC chair and sales and marketing director of the QEII Centre Diane Waldron, said: “The forthcoming arrival of World Book Day gave us an exciting chance to delve into the connections our London venues have with leading figures of the literary world. “In some way the unique styles and varied subjects covered by each of these authors and poets reflects the scope of our offering at WVC. Whatever the requirements an event booker may have from an intimate gathering in a Grade 1 listed building to a conference.”