On this page you'll find information about forthcoming and previous events, speakers and talks.
Thursday, 18th January 2018 we welcome: Gillian Cane on the subject of ‘The Mitford Sisters’.
Gillian has loved reading about the eccentric Mitford family for as long as she remembers and has gained great pleasure from their sometimes hilarious, books. She was a regular visitor to Chatsworth and at one stage in her life, found herself working with Max Mosely – Diana Mitford’s son. Gillian now lives in Witney close to the villages of Swinbrook and Asthall where the Mitfords grew up
21st December 2017
Father Christmas (aka Colin Oakes)
Father Christmas in the guise of Colin Oakes will tell us tales of “14 years in a Grotto” with Rudolph leading his convoy to Chinnor! This speaker is an Archaeologist who does walking tours and lectures in addition to his seasonal job at a garden centre. Members may remember his previous talks on “The Amersham Martyrs” and “Charles Dickens”.
16th November 2017
Amanda Wood talked about “Christchurch after the Earthquake” and demonstrated the stark reality of being faced with a life or death situation, no water or sanitation, no access for emergency services, continuing ground movements and enduring uncertainty. In the immediate aftermath, over 80% of the business community was inaccessible leading to unemployment; vehicles in the city were unreachable for 3 months and every building needed to be assessed for either demolition, part rebuilding or repair with liquefaction adding to the massive difficulties.
After 6 years there are still uninhabitable buildings to repair or rebuild to earthquake resistant standards and the detriment to the community can hardly be imagined.
19th October 2017
Ian has spent 40 years involved with bomb disposal operations. His first Explosives Ordnance Disposal (EOD) tour of duty was as a corporal in Northern Ireland in 1974. He then gained a commission, returned to the Province in 1982 and, as a captain, was responsible for all bomb disposal operations in Belfast. In 1992, as a major, he was Officer Commanding 321 Company RAOC, responsible for all bomb disposal operations in the whole Province. This was followed by a year in an intelligence post gathering information on Improvised Explosive Devices worldwide. He left the Army in 1994 and joined the Anti-terrorist Branch of the Metropolitan Police where, working shifts, he served as an Explosives Officer dealing with all incidents involving explosives in London. He answered over 2000 calls for assistance in the following 18 years before retiring after the Olympics. His talk will took at some of the incidents he attended, with a mix of both serious and more lighthearted incidents.
He has written two books, Malice Aforethought - The History of the Booby Trap and London - Bombed Blitzed and Blown Up, a history of the bombing of the capital from 1867 to 2007. He is a member of the Durand Group that open and explore WW1 tunnels and is a keen Cartridge collector. You can purchase both of these books by clicking the links below:
21st September 2017
Roy Smart was a Naval Officer, Fleet Air Arm pilot and air director of many great national memorial events including the televised D Day, VE and VJ Day commemorations attended by the Queen and fifty heads of state, together with flying displays and aviation pageants. With an interest in history and art, he also contributed to the BBC Radio centenary commemorations of the Battle of Jutland. Roy will be presenting his talk Another Icarus: The Rise and fall of Percy Pilcher .. and the Art of Flight, the first Englishman to die in the cause of ‘the conquest of the air’. Roy presents the tale of aviation pioneer Percy Sinclair Pilcher, the magnificent man, his flying machines and the historic, but as yet unheralded, achievements of his redoubtable sister Ella in a colourful context of music, poetry, Greek myth, art and the beginnings of flight.”
17th August 2017
9th June 2017
“Passion for Pearls”
It was obvious from the moment Frances began her talk that we were in for a treat. From an early age at her Grandmother’s knee, she admired these gems and the love affair continues. Demonstrating the versatility of her subject, the speaker enthralled us with her extensive knowledge of how pearls are naturally formed by a parasite invading the inside of an oyster that then produces calcium carbonate to protect itself, the overlapping nacre layers building up to form a lustrous pearl. As only 1 in 10,000 non-farmed oysters make a pearl, it behoves producers to artificially irritate molluscs to encourage them to excrete their protective substance to replicate them.
Frances brought along a wide range of products to demonstrate the varying colours and styles of jewellery that she sources and makes herself. She entertained us with a dynamic presentation during which there was audience participation that had us laughing aloud. The afternoon flew by and with all net profits donated to a charity caring for some of the world’s poorest orphans, a doubly rewarding experience. In fact Frances is able to support two children for a year from her sales at our meeting.
14th April 2017
"Votes for Women"
Roger gave us a very interesting talk about the Womens Socialist and Political Union (WSPU), it's founders, the ladies of the Pankhurst family, their lives and the struggles they went through in order to give women the power of the vote. Roger has written a book on the subject - The Struggle for Democracy - and it is available via the History Press website. Click here for more details.
Annual Lectures February / March 2017
"A History of Oxford: Home of lost causes and Forsaken Beliefs & Town and Gown relations; No little Scandal to God and Man"
This year's fascinating two part annual lecture, is presented by Chris Day who worked until 1994 for the Victoria County History, engaged in researching and writing the history of the city of Oxford and of Oxfordshire rural parishes from a base in the Clarendon Building in Broad Street. The ‘History’ nationally is owned by the University of London, of whose Institute of Historical Research he was made a Research Fellow. It was in recognition of his work as a local historian that in 1987 he was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries.
Find out more about Chris here.
16th February 2017
Barry gave us a rare insight into the man who was Sir Edward Elgar. From his beginnings, through the trials of getting his work recognised to his success in his later years. We enjoyed some interesting and little know pieces of music that Elgar had written and Barry regaled us with the stories behind these pieces. A fascinating talk much appreciated by all who attended.
Barry Collett studied music at Nottingham and Trinity College of Music in London. He was Director of Music at Rutland College until his retirement, and since then he has pursued an increasingly busy lecturing schedule, especially for the Elgar Society, the W.I. and the W.E.A. In 1975 he founded the Rutland Sinfonia, and conducted all its concerts for the first twenty six seasons, in a wide range of works including all of Elgar’s orchestral music, a feat recognized by the Elgar Society with the award of honorary life membership. He has made 13 recordings both as conductor and pianist, and in particular his premiere recordings of Elgar’s lesser-known pieces have been widely acclaimed. His book “Elgar Country” was published in 1981 and since reprinted. He has recently received the Elgar Medal, the Elgar Society’s highest award, for his pioneering work in researching and performing the composer’s lesser-known works.
19th January 2017
"A Solo walk across Africa"
"The idea of crossing Africa on foot seemed already firmly established in many people's minds as some exceptionally difficult feat. And yet how many people had actually done it? I decided to walk every step of the way from one coast of Africa to the other, completely alone: no backup, no support team, no one to make arrangements for me, no one to carry my gear, no sponsors, no funding, no film crew, no journalists, no fuss, no cheering crowds, and no strings attached. Above all, it had to be on a one-way ticket: no safety nets, no get-out clauses and nothing to fall back on ..."
Visit Fran's website to read more about his journey, see some more photographs and find out more about Fran himself. You can also order a signed copy of his book.