Talks and Events

Evening Talks

society_talks_sm_380-2society_talks_380Talks are held at 8.00 pm in St Mary’s Parish Rooms, Museum Street, Saffron Walden.
members £1: guests welcome, £3: young people under 16 free.

Programme for 2017

Monday, 13th November:

Oliver Cromwell

Speaker: John Davies, from the Cromwell Museum at Huntingdon

The first Civil War is over. Parliament has won but has anything been settled or even won? Is this the start of a new world, the end of “Babylonian Captivity” or a descent into chaos?

Monday, 11th December:

Christmas Social

Talks and Visits from earlier in 2017


9th January
The Place Names of Saffron Walden

The 1758 map of Saffron Walden

Malcolm White, Local Historian and former Town Clerk, will give an illustrated talk on the place names of Saffron Walden, and how they reflect the shape, occupations, size, origins, and personalities of the town.







Monday, 13th February:
Printed Maps of Essex, 1576 to 1947: The Good, the Bad and the Downright Ugly

There have been hundreds of maps of Essex – but a lot of variations. What makes a map “Good” or “Bad”? What makes and “Ugly” map and why would one be made? Peter will use examples from his very wide collection of Essex maps from 1576 to 1947 to illustrate the Good, the Bad and the downright Ugly, as well as how county maps evolved over the centuries. His new book Printed Maps of Essex is now available.

Peter Walker
Map collector, historian and author

Monday, 13th March:

Dressing Up: British portraits of the 18th century

Hugh Belsey

Lecturer and former Curator of Gainsborough’s House in Sudbury

Portrait painting was the staple of British painting and portraitists developed different ways to present their sitter’s apparel. Their dress was frequently simplified and sometimes updated, and the people of 18th century England were often shown in timeless fancy dress. Hugh’s talk will also refer to portrait paintings and the costume collection held at the Museum.

 Monday, 10th April:

Darwin’s Life in Letters

Speaker: Sally Stafford
Education & Outreach Officer,
Darwin Correspondence Project,
Cambridge University Library

The Darwin Correspondence Project is an independently-funded research team based at the Cambridge University Library. It locates and researches letters written by and to Charles Darwin (1809-1883). His letters are an essential resource for understanding the development of his ideas.

Sally Stafford’s talk is largely biographical but outlines how Darwin’s letters offer fascinating insights on his life, from his family relationships to his working methods. She will also highlight the natural history specimens brought back by Darwin from his Beagle voyage.

Darwin's Life in Letters

Monday, 8th May:

The Development of Palace House,
Newmarket: the new National
Heritage Centre for Horseracing
and Sporting Art

Speaker: Richard Fletcher
Community Volunteer Ambassador

The heritage of Newmarket and the racehorse have been linked since James I and his Court stopped in the town for hunting and hawking in 1604. Today. Newmarket is the undisputed ‘Headquarters’ of of flat racing with two reknowned racecourses which attract more than 350,000 racegoers, trainers, breeders and agents every year.

Richard’s illustrated talk is about the development of Palace House, Newmarket, built in the remains of King Charles II’s old palace and stables, and how it reflects the history of horse racing in Newmarket and the royal connections with the town.

Monday, 12th June:

From Diamonds to Tin Cans:
300 years of jewellery design

Speaker: Helen Ritchie
Jewellery Historian,
Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge

To complement Completing the Look: 300 year in Fashion Accessories at Saffron Walden Museum, jewellery historian Helen Ritchie will guide us through 300 years of jewellery design. From 18th century Rococo jewels, designs after the Neoclassical and Victorian novelties, to Arts & Crafts enamelling, Deco geometry and 21st century 3D-printing – this illustrated talk will link styles of jewellery to wider design trends as seen in fashion, furniture, architecture and interiors.

Monday, 11th September:

The Ice Age in Essex and beyond 

Speaker; Gerald Lucy, Fossil expert and author of “Essex Rocks”

About 450,000 years ago, in the middle of the Ice Age, almost the whole of Britain was buried beneath a giant ice sheet, in places over a mile thick.  This was the coldest period of what we call the ‘Ice Age’, a remarkable period of the Earth’s recent history.  Gerald Lucy will give an illustrated talk on the Ice Age in Britain and in Essex, and how it consisted of not just cold stages but also warm periods, some of which saw hippos wallowing in Essex rivers!

Monday, 9th October:

“The Lost Heroes of Bletchley Park or How Bill Tutte Won the War!”

Speaker:  Richard Fletcher

Other Events run by the Museum Service

As well as the events that are run by the Museum Society, the Museum Service runs events especially during half term and summer school holidays. A full Listing can be found on the Museum Events page

Current Exhibition

28 January – 30 July 2017

Completing the Look

–  explores the history of fashion accessories from the Georgian period up to the present day. Displaying beautiful hats, shoes, jewelery, scarves, gloves and much more, the exhibition tells the story of how men and women have used accessories to show off their social status, attract a partner, make an artistic statement or, simply, complete their look.

See the Current Exhibition page