Talks Archive

Here we keep the collected advance notices of talks and events which previously appeared on this website but have already been held, as a reminder of the wide range of topics which have been covered. Society Members will be able to look at their Newsletters to see accounts of the talks and events which have been held, and the Newsletters are also archived on the Newsletter page of the website.

2015 archive

12th January 2015 – “Grunty Fen” Speaker; Christopher South

The hilarious history of how Grunty Fen came to Little Chesterford.

cintviewEach week for 17 years Christopher South sat at his kitchen table in Little Chesterford writing radio comedy scripts with Pete Sayers, the singer/songwriter who was Dennis of Grunty Fen.

Before that, Christopher had been a serious journalist as columnist and news editor of the Cambridge Evening News and a presenter on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire where he still appears.

In a talk to the Museum Society he will tell how Grunty Fen has become a real place in the mental landscape of listeners all over the world and how he came to write the newly-published Guide Book to Grunty Fen, Gateway to the East.   Christopher will also tell how some of the people he met as a teenage reporter in Saffron Walden became characters in the Dennis legend.


Talk at 8pm on Monday 9th February 2015 in St Mary’s Parish Room,
Saffron Walden

‘The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings and Our Local Heritage’
By Douglas Kent

BRIEF OUTLINE:
217Douglas Kent will talk about the work of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB), properties in the town with which it has been involved over the years and his current award-winning renovation project at one of these, 25-27 Church Street (part of the old Sun Inn).

BIOGRAPHICAL NOTES:
The SPAB is the UK’s largest, oldest and most technically expert charity campaigning fighting to save old buildings from damage, decay and demolition. Douglas, a chartered surveyor, is its Technical and Research Director. He publishes and lectures regularly on building conservation and has contributed to various radio and television programmes. He also serves on many committees for organisations devoted to safeguarding our heritage and is chairman of the Hundred Parishes Society.


 Monday, 9th March:
The Scott Polar Museum
Heather Lane

Making a new museum – the redevelopment of the Polar Museum in Cambridge

Exploration into Science

Exploration into Science

This talk will examine the opportunities and challenges of developing a new museum from a little known research collection. The Polar Museum opened its doors in June 2010 to great public acclaim – find out what went on in the five years leading up to this point in the redesign and refurbishment of the galleries and stores, and what has happened since.

The memorial Hall

The memorial Hall

Heather Lane in the Antarctic

Heather Lane in the Antarctic

Heather Lane, M.A. (Oxon), DipLIS, MCLIP is the Keeper at the Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge.
She graduated from the University of Oxford and trained at the British Library. Her research interests include classification theory, particularly facet analytical theory. After obtaining a post-graduate qualification in Library and Information Studies in Aberystwyth, her professional career has been based in Cambridge, first at Gonville and Caius College and then as Librarian of Sidney Sussex College. Since 2004, she has been engaged in research into SPRI’s collections, with particular interests in the correspondence of
R.F. Scott, Inuit art and the photography of Ponting and Hurley. She led the HLF-funded project to renovate The Polar Museum, which reopened in June 2010 and is presently working on the Shackleton Project, to make the Institute’s collections fully accessible.


Monday, 13th April:
Fry_LogoThe Fry Gallery and its Collections, which include the Great Bardfield Artists
Gordon Cummings

“I have been Hon. Secretary of the Fry Art Galley Society for more years than I care to remember.  I am also the Honorary Treasurer of the Association of Independent Museums, who represent some 800 museums and galleries.

The Fry Art Gallery is now in its 30th year, and the Collection has grown to over 2,500 objects. Ours is a collection of works by north west Essex artists, and concentrates on the group who have come to be known as The Bardfield Artists.  Their contribution to British art, particularly Edward Bawden and Eric Ravilious, is now becoming increasingly recognised.

2012_03_15_0092Gallery Interior A 2013The Fry Gallery has, in effect, the national collection of Bardfield artists, and its reputation is now nation-wide. The heritage Lottery Fund recently awarded the Fry £200,000 to expand and improve our Collection.”

 

 


Monday, 11th May:
English Saffron – the reintroduction of saffron growing to Saffron Walden
David Smale

‘English Saffron’, or ‘English Saffron – of our Saffron and the Dressing Thereof’,  to echo the original work by William Harrison in his The Description of England.

saffron-smlDavid Smale will give a brief history of saffron with a guide to the saffron crocus and its cultivation, together with the treatment of the harvested saffron and uses of saffron.

There will be a display of products from English Saffron

David is by training an Consulting Exploration Geophysicist and read Geology and Geophysics at Leicester University and Exploration Geophysics at Imperial College.

He began growing saffron about 12 years ago. Amongst other things he plays piano (ragtime), writes (screen and book), reads history and studies and writes about physics ( specifically superluminary investigations) and  he travels wherever and whenever he can!


Monday, 8th June:
Sir Thomas Smith, scholar, statesman and son of Saffron Walden
Rev. Jeremy Collingwood

picture of sir thomas smithSir Thomas Smith after relatively humble beginnings in Saffron Walden, rose to become one of the most powerful men in England, Secretary of State to two Tudor monarchs, and deeply enmeshed in many of the contentious issues of national politics in his time. This book is particularly timely, in focussing public awareness in Saffron Walden on the life and career of one of its most important sons, shortly before the 500th anniversary of his birth.

Jeremy Collingwood is a former lawyer, who has worked in Zambia and for the Director of Public Prosecutions in London. Following a second career in the Anglican ministry, he is now a retired minister living in Saffron Walden, where he pursues his passion for local history. This is his seventh book, others including Mr. Saffron Walden: the life and times of George Stacey Gibson 1818-1883.

SWHS Publications are sponsored by the Saffron Walden Historical Society, publishers of the Saffron Walden Historical Journal and aim to bring into the public domain work of original research relating to the history of Saffron Walden and north-west Essex.
ISBN – 978-1-873669-08-2 – £7.50

Books can be ordered from Saffron Walden Tourist Information

Sales Enquiries: tourism@saffronwalden.gov.uk
web page http://saffronwaldenhistory.org.uk/2013/07/29/sir-thomas-smith-scholar-statesman-and-son-of-saffron-walden/

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Afternoon visit to Hill Hall,Theydon Mount, Epping,  home of Sir Thomas Smith, Tour of the Hall at 2.00 pm.  Car sharing.

Following Jeremy Collingwood’s talk about Sir Thomas Smith in June, we will visit his home,  Hill Hall, Theydon Mount, Epping, Essex on Wednesday, 23 September 2015 for a guided tour at 2.00 pm.  It is a fascinating building and to learn more about the details and difficulties associated with it, a personal visit is a must.

History of Hill Hall

The first known owner of the site was a Saxon called Godric and the first house was built in 13th century.  It was Sir Thomas Smith who was largely responsible for rebuilding and remodelling the house in the 16th century.  He was influenced  by the classical architecture,  that he had seen on his continental travels during the 1560’s and 1570’s.  He superimposed Doric, Ionic & some Corinthian columns on some of the elevations and rebuilt the failing walls in a more robust manner and thoroughly “modernised” it. Internally he had some ambitious murals painted, some of which survive and are on view. It is a amazing building where much of the architecture & ornamentation was ahead of its time by several decades.

There was another rebuilding in the early part of the 18th century that include the north porch and the Humphrey Repton designs for the gardens.  The building remained in the family until the early 20th century  when it was purchased and lived in by a society hostess and then two other families. During WWII it had several roles but in 1947 was bought to be a women’s prison which opened in1952 and remained as such until it was largely gutted by fire in 1969 when the Department of the Environment took it over.  English Heritage inherited it in 1984 and failing to find a buyer, carried out necessary repairs. Today most of the Hall is privately occupied but some parts remain accessible to the public by appointment.

We will also visit Theydon Mount Church for more information about the Smith family and where tea and cakes will be provided  (£3 payable on the day).  The tour of Hill Hall will take just over an hour while the tour of the Church will take around 45 minutes.


Monday, 14th September:
Wellington & Waterloo 1815
speaker ;Jef Page

wellingtonnapoleonThe Battle of Waterloo was fought on Sunday, 18 June 1815, near Waterloo in present-day Belgium, then part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands. A French army under the command of Napoleon was defeated by two of the armies of the Seventh Coalition: an Anglo-allied army under the command of the Duke of Wellington, and a Prussian army under the  command of Marshal Blücher.

Waterloo was a decisive battle as every generation in Europe up to the outbreak of the First World War looked back at Waterloo as the turning point that dictated the course of subsequent world history.  However, Jef Page will describe the actual events of the battle and how victory over Napoleon, one of the greatest commanders and statesmen in history, was a close run thing.


Monday, 12th October:
Moorcroft Pottery
moorcroft_1Speaker;  Hugh Edwards, Chairman of Moorcroft Pottery.moorcroft_2

Hugh Edwards is Chairman of Moorcroft Pottery whose passion for Moorcroft began as a law student.

Hugh will discuss Moorcroft’s history from William Moorcroft’s beginnings in 1897, through its control by Liberty – the famous London store – to his own involvement with the Moorcroft Company, and its current position as a world leader in art pottery.


Monday, 9th November:
Farming in the Fifties
Heather Salvidge and Dr. Carol Law

Ugley Hall Farm in the 1950s. The presentation by Heather Salvidge and Dr Carol Law will feature a film showing the farming year. Shot during the 1950s by the late Mrs. Reay, whose family farmed Ugley Hall Farm, a commentary has been added by Mrs Reay’s daughter, Jean.

2016 Archive


11 January 2016

Saffron Walden Photographic Archive

Speaker: Terry Ward, Local Historian

With over 5000 images of the town and surrounding villages have changed over the years Terry’s talk will discuss the reasoning behind the choice of subjects and the planning involved.  He will also speak of the decisions relating to the sourcing and taking of pictures with historical content. Terry’s talk will be illustrated with many curated pictures from the archive.


Monday, 14th March:
Wicken Fen
Speaker: Dr. Peter Green,
Eastern Region Speaker Panel
National Trust

wicken_fen

Peter Green will cover a brief history of the formation of the Cambridgeshire fens and the great drainage project that started in the 17th century. He will explain how and why Wicken Fen avoided being drained, thus becoming an internationally important wetland nature reserve owned and managed by the National Trust. Peter will also describe how the fen is managed and what the plans for the future are.


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Monday, 13th June:
Saint Mary’s Church, Saffron Walden
A tour of the church led by Rosanne Kirkpatrick at 8.00 p.m.

Rosanne Kirkpatrick will begin the tour of Saint Mary’s Church with a talk about the history of the Church and the people connected to its building.  The tour of the Church itself will focus on particular items such as the brasses in the North Aisle, the Reverend John Lede’s tomb in the North Chapel and Lord Audley’s tomb in the South Chapel.  She will also discuss the windows, the bells and textiles in the Church, such as the splendid kneelers and the banners that include Lord Butler’s Garter Banner.


Visit to Wicken Fen

Thursday, 30 June 2016

 

Wicken Fen is a wetland nature reserve situated near the village of Wicken in Cambridgeshire.

It is one of Britain’s oldest nature reserves, and was the first reserve cared for by the National Trust, starting in 1899.  It is one of Europe’s most important wetlands and supports an abundance of wildlife.  There are more than 8,500 species, including a spectacular array of plants, birds and dragonflies.  There are also herds of free roaming Konik ponies and Highland cattle.

Our visit will include a guided walk, a boat trip  along the Wicken Lode which is a lovely way to see the Fen and may include the possibility of seeing the Konik ponies and Highland cattle. There is also the fen-worker’s cottage and workshop to visit, as well as the Visitor’s Centre and shop.  There is a cafe to have lunch.


Visit to Paycocke’s House, Coggeshall and Cressing Temple Barns

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Eight miles to the east of Braintree lies Coggeshall,  a lovely market town with an attractive centre made up of nearly 200 listed buildings.  Many are timber-framed, dating as far back as the 14th century, including  Paycockes House which is an exceptional example of a 16th century wealthy clothier’s house and also Grange Barn, founded in 1140, which is all that remains of the former abbey. Both properties are owned by the National Trust.

Cressing Temple Barns are four miles from Coggeshall.  Cressing Temple was amongst the very earliest and largest of the possessions of the Knights Templar in England and is the location of three Grade 1 listed Medieval barns, one of which is the oldest standing timber framed barn in the world.  Among the many gardens at the site, the Walled Garden is faithfully reconstructed as a Tudor pleasure garden, one of the few in the country.  The Barns’ Tea Room is renowned for its lunches and its cream teas.

Our visit will include the morning free to visit Paycockes House and Grange Barn, both of which open at 11.00 am.  There is limited roadside parking outside Paycocke’s House so it is best to park at Grange Barn (half a mile from Paycocke’s House) where tickets can be purchased to visit both Grange Barn and Paycocke’s House (if not a member of the National Trust).  There is a coffee shop at Paycocke’s House.

In the afternoon there is a guided tour of Cressing Temple Barns at 2.00 pm that lasts approximately one and a half hours.  Admission and parking at the site is free.


Monday, 12th September:

The Global in the Local
Len Pole

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Monday, 10th October:

King Cnut and the Battle of Assandun
Where was it?
Speaker ; Patricia Croxton-Smith, Local History Recorder

assundun_battle

The Battle of Assandun was the last of five battles in the Viking campaign to take over England.  The Anglo Saxons, led by Edmund Ironside, cut off the Vikings returning to their ships after they had been raiding in Mercia  (the Midlands).  They fought from nine in the morning until it was too dark to see clearly and “all the flower of the Angle kin was slain”.  It ended in victory for the Vikings led by Cnut who shortly afterwards became King of all England.  There is disagreement among historians as to where the battle took place.  Patricia Croxton-Smith will argue that it did not take place in Ashingdon in southeast Essex and will present evidence that the Battle of Assandun took place in the area of the present-day parishes of Ashdon and Hadstock.

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