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.
12th January 2015 – “Grunty Fen”
Speaker; Christopher South
The hilarious history of how Grunty Fen came to Little Chesterford.
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.
Monday 9th February
‘The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings and Our Local Heritage’
Speaker: Douglas Kent
Douglas 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).
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
Speaker: Heather Lane
Making a new museum – the redevelopment of the Polar Museum in Cambridge
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.
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.
“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.
The 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
‘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.
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
Speaker: Rev. Jeremy Collingwood
Sir 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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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
The 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:
Speaker; Hugh Edwards, Chairman of Moorcroft Pottery.
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.
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
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.
Monday 11th April
Speaker: Helen Ritchie, The Filzwilliam Museum, Cambridge
This year marks the bicentenary of the Filzwilliam Museum, and this talk will celebrate the astonishing range of glass featured in the Museum’s Applied Arts Collections, From Egyptian mosque lamps (illustrated) to Renaissance Venetian tazze, English Tudor goblets to contemporarty art glass, this illustrated talk will highlight the diversity and richness of the Museum’s glass heritage, as well as discussing the uses and importance of glass in society throughout the last 500 years.
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
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
Speaker; Len Pole, former Curator of Saffron Walden Museum
Len’s talk will cover an overview of the range and significance of the many world cultures colelctions held by the smaller-scale non-national museums in the UK. This will be based on the surveys and work he has done in various museums over the past 30 years or so, as well as published sources. Len will also set out the special qualities of the world cultures collections in the Saffron Walden Musuem, not only in the context of others in this country, but internationally, also emphasising the local connections.
Monday, 10th October:
King Cnut and the Battle of Assandun – Where was it?
Speaker ; Patricia Croxton-Smith, Local History Recorder
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.
Monday 14th November
The History of Coggeshall Tambour Lace
Speaker: Sara Impey, Textile maker and Journalist
Coggeshall Tambour Lace, a type of hand embroidery on machine-made net, was a 19th Century craft unique to Coggeshall in Essex. Introduced in about 1820, it flourished as a cottage industry supplying wealthy clients in London, including Queen Adelaide (Wife of William IV ). The end of the century saw this form of lace making eclipsed by machine-made lace, although revivlas were seen several times during the 20th Century. Items were used by the royal family in the 1930s and exmaples were exhibited here and overseas. There are many examples in the V & A and local museums, including ours.
The Place Names of Saffron Walden
Malcolm White, Local Historian and former Town Clerk
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.
Map collector, historian and author
Monday, 13th March:
Dressing Up: British portraits of the 18th century
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.
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
Many thousands of people worked at Bletchley Park during World War II, but very few gained any public recognition. The talk concentrates on the work of Bill Tutte, whose achievements surpassed those of the famous Alan Turing but who remains largely unknown.
Monday, 13th November:
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, 8th January
The buildings of the Palace of Westminster
Speaker: The Right Hon. Sir Alan Haselhurst
Monday, 12th February
20 Treasures from Saffron Walden Museum
Speaker: Carolyn Wingfield,
Curator of Saffron Walden Museum
An exploration of how the Treasure Act 1996 has added to the district’s archaeology collections, with a focus on some of the special finds acquired by the Museum over the past 20 years.
Monday, 9th April
The History of the Friends’ School
Speaker: Tony Watson, Chairman of Saffron Walden Museum Society
The Friends School has played an important role in the life of Saffron Walden and Tony Watson is well placed to tell us of the history as he experienced it as a pupil, and then as a Governor
Ouse Fen: Building Britain’s Biggest Reedbed
Richard Taylor -Assistant Warden RSPB Ouse Washes
Reedbeds and the specialised animals and plants that inhabit them were once a
major component of the fenland landscape. Richard Taylor‘s talk will explain how
a partnership between the RSPB and Hanson Aggregates is creating a home for
bitterns, marsh harriers, bearded tits and other species, that will last for generations.
Happy Birthday to George Stacey Gibson – Aspects of his life and achievements
Jeremy Collingwood, Sarah Kenyon and Len Pole
Born 200 years ago, George Stacey Gibson had and still has a major
impact on Saffron Walden. Our speakers will be telling us about his life,
his contribution to the establishment and development of the Museum
and his work on natural history and geology.
Worlds under Glass-Adventures in Taxidermy-
Speaker; Charlotte Pratt, Saffron Walden Museum, Learning and Outreach Officer and Curator of ‘Worlds Under Glass’ Exhibition at Saffron Walden Museum
Explore the controversial history of taxidermy; from its beginnings in
Wonderkammer to use in fashion, interiors, art and scientific discovery.
Discover secrets of the taxidermist’s art through a discussion of
techniques, process and the taxidermists who used them.
The Queen of Chardonnay – Exciting Archeology at Chesterford
Speaker; Jacqui Hutton, Network Archeology
Excavations on the site of the new crematorium at Chesterford reveal a fascinating history of how our ancestors have made use of it over thousands of years. Jacqui Hutton led the excavations and will reveal the latest secrets of the site.
Tumult and Tears; The Story of the Great War through the Eyes and Lives of its Women Poets.
Speaker: Vivien Newman
This talk examines the poetry written by both serving and civilian women. This treasure trove of neglected poetry takes us to the heart of the Great War as seen through the eyes and lives of its women poets.
Cambridge Science Festival- 25 Years of engaging the Public with Science.
Speaker : Dr Lucinda Spokes
Dr Stokes will describe the role and development of this, the UK’s largest free science festival showcasing over 250 events in March 2019. Cambridge University researchers and students will open their laboratories and lecture halls holding talks exhibitions and demonstrations for over 30,000 visitors.
DNA, Surnames and Genealogy
Speaker: Mark Carroll
Biochemistry lecturer at a leading London medical school and passionate family historian
Will traditional methods of family history and genealogy research, with their emphasis on documentary evidence and surnames,soon be replaced by DNA analysis? Mark uses examples drawn from family history research and DNA analysis to illustrate the concepts involved.
The University Museum of Zoology Cambridge-Past, Present and Future.
Speakers ; Dr Roz Wade and Matt Lowe
The Talk discussed the history of the collection, which contains over 2 million items, the recent redevelopment of the Museum and the programme of education which the Museum runs
Essex Diary-the wildlife of Essex through the year.
Speaker : Liz Huxley
Using her own photography Liz Huxley discussed the many faces of Essex wildlife through the seasons.
The Woman who Saved the Children
Speaker; Claire Mulley
Eglantyne Jebb, founder of Save the Children and pioneer of
children’s rights, was perhaps an unlikely children’s champion. In
1919, she launched Save the Children in London; 5 years later she
drafted the statement of children’s human rights, now evolved into
the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Launched on 1st April 2015 by Her Majesty the Queen, the Georgian Papers programme is a project to make the historic manuscripts relating to the Georgian Monarchy more widely available to the public by digitizing them! The Georgian Papers section of the Royal Archive comprises 425,000 items and were at the start of the project stored, uncatalogued, in cardboard boxes, unlabelled except for the few saying “miscellaneous”.
Taking away the Walls.
Speaker : James Lumbard Saffron Walden Museum
Speaker: Anthea Hawdon
Since the churches of Essex were built, their parishioners and visitors have been leaving their marks on the walls. This talk covers the variety of graffiti found in churches, from medieval to World War 2, from gossip to magic and a lot of places in between. If you’re interested in a new source for local history research or how to keep evil spirits away, this talk has something for you!
The Battle of Rorke’s Drift
Speaker : Paul Fairhurst
In the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879, the Zulu Army inflicted a major defeat on the British force at Isandlwana, and immediately moved on to attack Rorke’s Drift. Our speaker, a recent Mayor of Saffron Walden, will seek to give a personal perspective on these two battles with some feelings for the times.