We have talks in Autumn & Winter and trips in Spring & Summer each year. For further details see the current Contact magazine (via the Bookshop page).
2017 / 2018 Talks & Trips
We also pick up members at the Memorial Theatre on Christchurch Street West, at the Bus Stop Opposite to the Memorial Theatre, which will also be the returning drop-off point. The advertised Coach Departure Time is for the Cricket Club, to which five minutes is added to determine the pick up time for the Memorial Theatre.
Guests pay £3 supplement. Please mention any dietary needs when you book and remember you are responsible for your own insurance.
TRIP DETAILS FOR 2018
26 January 2019 – Ollie Taylor – The History and Evolution of Bath Abbey
Bath Abbey, or the Church of St Peter and St Paul with St James, is a thriving parish church at the heart of Bath. Christian worship has taken place on the site for over 1,300 years and the church buildings have undergone many changes: from Saxon convent, to Norman Cathedral, to the late medieval Abbey that stands today.
Dr Oliver Taylor, who is Head of Interpretation, Learning and Engagement at Bath Abbey, will tell the story of these churches and how the Abbey came to be re-built after the Dissolution thanks to the people of the city. As the parish church for the city, the Abbey became a place of burial and commemoration for the city. The result is that the Abbey has a unique floor, comprised of almost 900 ledger stones (flat stones), and over 600 memorial tablets. This aspect of the Abbey’s history will be looked at in detail, a legacy that has resulted in the major conservation work currently taking place. The talk will be illustrated with images of the Abbey throughout its history and photographs of the conservation work taking place today.
9 February 2019 – Dennis Chedgy – Radstock Museum
Dennis Chedgy has for many years been closely involved in the formation and development of Radstock Museum. In 1985, he was a founder member of the Museum Society, and he was a Trustee for more than thirty years.
In his talk, Dennis will explain why, when and how the Museum Society formed; the opening of the first museum at Barton Mead, Haydon; the successful Lottery bid and es- tablishment of the new permanent Museum at Radstock in 1999, and the major EU award and further developments in 2005. He will describe the future plans for the Museum.
23 February 2019 – Phillip Hoyland – West Country Friendly Societies and their Brass Emblems. (Clare Moody MEP cancelled due to monitoring Moldavian elections)
Friendly Societies were formed by like-minded people in order to alleviate financial hardship in times of sickness, death and old age. They flourished from the 18th century into the 20th century. He will talk about the history of Friendly Societies, organisation and function, their role in village life and the significance of their brass pole-head emblems. The custom of carrying brass emblems, on “Walking Day” was virtually confined to Somerset and those parts of neighbouring counties that bordered on it. He has a large collection of brasses and will be bringing a selection with him.
9 March 2019 – Sue Bucklow – Casting the Empire: J.W. Singer & Sons of Frome
2019 marks the bi-centenary of the birth in Frome of John Webb Singer, who founded the famous metallic art works, J.W.Singer & Sons. Sue Bucklow, formerly Curator of the Hulton Deutsch Collection, has spent many years researchng Singers’ and will describe how this small family foundry was able to become so successful and with such a high reputation thanks to the ingenuity and forward thinking of John Webb Singer.
Sue will describe to us the foundry’s journey from its small beginnings in the 1850s, casting brass church regalia for Vicar Bennett in a foundry in Eagle Lane, to a large factory, employing over 200 people, which by the end of the century was supplying bronze statues around the world, including Boadicea opposite Big Ben, and the figure of Justice crowning the Old Bailey.
During the First World War it made shell cases and following the war, it produced countless war memorials. This talk will be one of many events in 2019 celebrating the story of Singers, including an exhibition at Rook Lane Chapel and the production of a new book by Sue, which it is hoped will be available for sale at the meeting.
23 March 2019 – Rev’d Colin Alsbury – the Rev’d WJE Bennett
Rev’d Colin Alsbury is the Rural Dean of Frome and vicar of St John the Baptist Parish Church. He will give a talk about the controversial priest William James Early Bennett, who was appointed as vicar of St John’s in 1852. Bennett is celebrated for having provoked the decision that the doctrine of the Real Presence is a dogma not inconsistent with the creed of the Church of England.
Within a few years of Bennett’s arrival the system of pew privilege, by which the wealthy bought their pews was abandoned and many of the pews and the galleries were removed. He also divided the parish into 12 districts and established schools, classes, a dispensary and other charities for the population. He set up a choir school for 12 boys and creches for the children of the town’s factory workers. He bought some of the properties around the church and the building used for the school is now the church hall and known as the Bennett Centre.
Bennett undertook significant restoration of St John’s, and employed the sculptor James Forsyth to carve statues of saints, the reredos and 18 medallions. Forsyth was also responsible for the carving of the Via Crucis alongside the steps on the north side of the church.
[FSLS publications will be on sale before lecture]
This meeting will be preceded by the AGM at 2.00pm.