As part of Richmond Literature Festival, join local author and Arabist, Diana Darke at Orleans House Gallery as she discusses her new book Stealing from the Saracens, a revealing history of Islamic architectural influence on some of Europe’s most recognisable buildings, from Notre-Dame Cathedral to the Houses of Parliament.

Diana will trace the ideas and styles from vibrant Middle Eastern centres like Damascus, Baghdad and Cairo, via Muslim Spain, Venice and Sicily into Europe. She’ll describe how medieval crusaders, pilgrims and merchants encountered Arab Muslim culture on their way to the Holy Land; and explore more recent artistic interaction between Ottoman and Western cultures, including Sir Christopher Wren’s inspirations in the ‘Saracen’ style of Gothic architecture.

Recovering this long yet overlooked history of architectural ‘borrowing’, Stealing from the Saracens is a rich tale of cultural exchange, shedding new light on Europe’s greatest landmarks.

Tickets cost £12 (£10 concession) plus Eventbrite booking fee.


This talk forms part of Environment Trust's project Burton: Exploring Without Boundaries, which marks the bicentenary of Victorian explorer, Sir Richard Burton. You can see many of his possessions, including his swords, in the Study Gallery of Orleans House, which we encourage you to visit after the talk. Burton’s spectacular mausoleum is in Mortlake.


We are limiting tickets to 6 per person so that social distancing guidance is followed. Please note that face coverings will need to be worn. For more information on Richmond Literature Festival and for their Covid-19 guidelines, please visit: www.richmondliterature.com