Home > Programme of Meetings 2023-24

Programme of Meetings 2023-24



Sept 15


John of Gaunt – Power and Passion

John of Gaunt, 2nd Duke of Lancaster, transformed Kenilworth’s medieval fortress into a fortified Royal Palace.  This talk covers the significance of his building works at Kenilworth, his three marriages (including his final marriage to his long-term mistress Katherine Swynford) and how his children from all three marriages went on to shape the course of English history.

Speaker: Jan Cooper, Chair Kenilworth History and Archaeology Society

Oct 20


Robin Hood at Cleeve Prior: neighbours and anti-social behaviour in villages near Bidford, 1200-1540

Journalists call a village a 'close-knit community', and it is often suggested that medieval villages were models of co-operation and neighbourly support. Some of the villages around Bidford, and especially Cleeve Prior, have much documentation for this period, and we can see how well they worked as communities.

Speaker: Prof. Christopher Dyer, Professor of Local History, University of Leicester 

Nov 17


John Hall, Master of Physicke

Discusses recent research into the medical practice of John Hall, a Stratford physician and son-in-law of William Shakespeare. The talk provides an insight into medical practice and the social and intellectual climate of early modern Stratford-upon-Avon and of his clients, many of whom came from well-known families of the day.  There are fantastic cures used by John Hall in his casebook.

Speaker: Dr Paul Edmondson Head of Research The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

Dec 15

The Home Guard, Defence of the country during its Darkest Days

The 10 months of the Phoney War ended on May 10th 1940 with the attack on the Low Counties. On the 14thMay 1940 a sombre call went out to the men of these isles to form an organisation to defend this country from impending invasion. The call to arms went out and the short lived LDV (Local Defence Volunteers) was formed. In August 1940 this became the Home Guard with, at its height, 1.5 million men and women helping to defend this country. This talk will take you from inception and how the men and women were armed to stand down

Speaker:  David G.P. Morse

Jan 19


The Medieval Wall Paintings in Stratford-upon-Avon’s Guildhall

New light has been thrown on one of the most significant buildings in Stratford-upon-Avon, Shakespeare’s Schoolroom & Guildhall, following a study of its medieval symbolic decorations. Revelations include the confirmation that amongst the building’s internal wall paintings are the remains of a depiction of the Last Supper; a discovery of international importance.

Speaker: Lindsey Armstrong. General Manager, Shakespeare’s Schoolroom and Guildhall

Feb 16


On the way to London, Vale of Evesham Roads

Vale of Evesham Roads from 1250 to 1850, with the development of Turnpikes, including that over Fish Hill, through Broadway and Evesham, an important national route. Talk also includes roads around Bidford.

Speaker: David Ella Researcher and interpreter of historic maps

Mar 15


Churchill as a Soldier of the 4th Hussars

Churchill’s basic training and daily life in India as an officer of the Raj followed by his active service as a soldier of the Queen.

His participation in an expedition to Cuba and the fighting in the Valley in the Northwest Frontier of India after joining the Malakand Field Force.  His role in the Battle of Omdurman while attached to the 21st Lancers.

On return to India his membership of the 4th Hussar polo team in the Indian Inter-Regimental Championships.

His actions during the Boer War as a war correspondent including the train ambush and his subsequent capture by and escape from the Boers.

Speaker: David Walker. Former Curator Hussars Museum

Apr 19


History of Placenames in Worcestershire

Toponomy, study of placenames, provides a fascinating insight to our history. Celts, Romans, Saxons, Vikings and Normans created the vast majority of southern placenames between 5th and 11th centuries, based often landscape features or a particular inhabitant. Evesham had very different names in the early middle-ages. The talk is based on 30 years of research.

Speaker:  Dr Mike Jenkins

May 17


Six Warrior Women of the English Civil Wars, 1642-51 

During the English Civil War women were not meek bystanders, who took no part in the conflict, but actively participated in a variety of ways, challenging the orthodoxies of their day and perhaps our own preconceptions. 

This talk looks briefly at six women who took part in the fighting, undertook spying missions and negotiated deals with politicians.

It also touches briefly upon cross-dressing soldiers; widows seeking compensation from Parliament and political activists. 

Speaker:  Stephen Barker

June 21

The Most Dissolute man in London

William Cavendish, 1St Duke of Devonshire has gone down in history as the saviour of English Liberties and the “most dissolute man in London.” The talk reviews the political life of an aristocrat involved in the overthrow of James II, bringing William and Mary to the throne, but also a life of gambling, womanising and duel-fighting. Cavendish built Chatsworth; the talk looks at the architecture and decoration that took 20 years to be – and was really only done by accident.

Speaker:  Dr. Gillian White