Programme of Meetings 2022-23






Sept 16


Dr. Steven Blake


What visitors thought: a light-hearted look at Cheltenham since the 1700s

Contemporary accounts, in books, diaries and letters, are among the most illuminating sources for the history of any community, and Cheltenham – being a popular resort throughout the late 18th and early 19th centuries – is no exception. This talk will look at a selection of the many visitors’ descriptions of the town from the 1700s to the early 20th century (some flattering, others far less so), against a backdrop of some of the fine collection of paintings, drawings, prints and photographs of the town in Cheltenham’s Wilson Art Gallery & Museum.



Oct 21


Stephen Barker


Armistice 1918 and After: Some Local Perspectives

This fully illustrated talk looks at the impact of the First World War Armistice and the legacy of the War in local communities. It looks at how the Armistice was celebrated, what happened when soldiers returned home and how families managed in the immediate aftermath. Emphasis is placed on individual soldiers’ and families’ stories, oral testimony and unseen photographs from the time.



Nov 18


Dr. Gillian White


Henry VIII and the Field of Cloth of Gold

In June 1520 the King of France and the Kng of England met in a field outside Calais to celebrate peace. The celebrations that accompanied this meeting were so magnificent and luxurious that they have become known as The Field of Cloth of Gold. The diplomatic negotiations were ultimately worthless but for Henry VIII and François I it was a chance to compete for honour and glory and no expense was to be spared in the competition to be top dog. This talk explores the reason for their meeting, the extravagant celebrations themselves, and the aftermath of this magnificent event.


Dec 16

Nic Fulcher


Seasonal Food

Christmas is the time when modern eating habits cling closest to a dietary pattern established well before the seventeenth century.  The food of the Tudor Christmas table included many of the smells and tastes – dried fruit, citrus peel, sugar and spices – that we still associate with the festive season to this day.  This talk takes a closer look at some of the foods produced in the Tudor kitchen and their lasting legacy.



Jan 20


Dr Richard Churchley


Rural Industries before the Railways

In this illustrated talk, using mainly local examples from the Bidford, Alcester, Redditch area, Richard describes the many rural industries which took place in the countryside before the Railway Age. These include workers in wood, leather, textiles, metal, stone and brick as well as those involved in agriculture and retail. You may even discover what job was done by a cricker or a teugerer. Richard draws on evidence from his study of occupations which formed his PhD thesis and also from work he did for Cambridge University on the occupational structure of Worcestershire and Warwickshire.



Feb 17


Alan Godfrey


Life in Roman Alcester 

A presentation tracing the history and development of a provincial Roman town, which explains how the archaeology of the town reveals so much about everyday life in Roman Alcester. A huge number of finds have been discovered by archaeologists over many years. The talk reveals the fortified, walled area, the site of the military presence and the extra-mural market area. 



Mar 17


Tim Bridges


Defining Victorian Architecture 

We have inherited a great legacy of Victorian architecture with designs ranging from Neo-Classical through Gothic Revival to Arts and Crafts vernacular. Tim Bridges, Conservation Adviser for the Victorian Society will explore and explain the characteristics of buildings from this period looking at examples of churches, houses, factories, schools and much else besides based on his casework in Birmingham and the West Midlands. 



Apr 21


Dr. Stephen Wass


Excavating history at Farnborough Hall 

Following six years of research undertaken by Leicester University and NT, archaeologist Stephen Wass presents an account of the extraordinary landscape around Farnborough Hall and charts it’s story over the last 10,000 years ranging from Mesolithic hunter gatherers to 1960s pop idols with a detailed examination of the gardens as developed in the eighteenth century.



May 19


Mairi Macdonald


Mediaeval Women

This talk looks mainly at urban women in the later Middle Ages; their legal position and the actual reality of their daily lives. Their role is considered in the context of individual freedoms across all society, and there is also a brief look at the position of noble and peasant women.


June 16

Ms.Heidi Meyer


Lord Leycester Hospital 

Master and Brethren: based on a newly researched book, the story of the Master and Brethren of the ancient Hospital of the Lord Leycester. A candid, sometimes racy, account of the community of deserving veterans and their leader, the Master, who have lived at the Lord Leycester since it was founded by Robert Dudley Earl of Leicester in 1571. A story of philanthropic living told by the current Master, through the accounts of those who lived it within the walls of one of England’s most significant medieval buildings.


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