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).
2021 Talks & Trips
We will be having the Saturday afternoon zoom lectures as advertised in Contact and below.
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 Rugby Club, to which ten 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.
TALK DETAILS FOR 2021
All lectures will begin at 2.00pm with the link being open from 1.30pm. The link will be sent to all members for whom we have an email address in the preceding week.
Saturday April 24th 2021 James Crowden – Literary Somerset
This talk explores the literary highways and byways of Somerset, including the watering holes of Bath and Bristol. Writer and poet James Crowden has produced an intellectual roadmap of Somerset from Roman times through Anglo-Saxon Wessex up to the present day. Here you will find more than 300 writers: early chroniclers and opium addicted Romantic poets, philosophers, pirates and playwrights, eccentric clergymen, diarists and herbalists, novelists and historians, travellers, chefs and scientists,
Many of the literary connections are well known: TS Eliot and East Coker, Wordsworth & Coleridge in the Quantocks, but did you know that Thomas Hardy once lived in Yeovil? or that Virginia Woolf had her honeymoon in Holford? or that John Steinbeck lived near Bruton; or that the vicar of Isle Brewers walked naked across Afghanistan? or that JRR Tolkein had his honeymoon in Clevedon and that Cheddar Gorge inspired Helm’s Deep in Lord of the Rings.
Saturday May 8th 2021 Ann Pulsford – Mary Anning, Her Life and Work
Mary was born into a poor family in Lyme Regis. Her father, a carpenter, made extra money by collecting and selling fossils to tourists. Mary was self-taught and had no formal education except learning to read and write at Sunday school. She copied out scientific papers to learn about Geology. Mary’s fossil finds attracted the attention of some of the leading geologists and palaeontologists of the day. They visited Mary at Lyme and bought fossils from her and collected fossils with her and often presented the finds as their own work without reference to Mary. The large fossil reptiles Mary found were Ichthyosaurs and Plesiosaurs and caused great excitement and much debate at the time. Mary eventually received some recognition for her work with some fossil species being named after her including a fish and a belemite. In 1846 Mary was made an honorary member of the Geological Society of London and she received a pension from the government and also a yearly grant from the British Association for the Advancement of Science for her contributions to geology. Mary’s fossil discoveries had a huge influence on Darwin’s book On the Origin of Species
Saturday May 22 2021 The Census in Frome, past and present; and the Cockey Legacy.
Janet Howard will begin with a short talk about the background to the Census of England and Wales, Sue Leather will then explain how she used information obtained from the Census records to research the history of Naish’s Street and Bob Cuzner will tell us about the mechanics of the 2021 Census with which he was involved.
After a short break, Ric Swann and Mary Canale will give a talk about the Cockey legacy. Ric will talk about the bell founding industry which changed to the gas and agricultural industry. This led to Edward Cockey introducing gas lighting to Frome in 1831. Mary will talk on the family history side of the Cockey dynasty and how they have spread around the world leaving almost no descendants in England.
They will touch briefly on the plans in progress to erect a plaque to the Cockey gas industry on their first premises at No 2 Palmer Street.
Talks on Saturday 26th June and Saturday 24th July, details to follow.
TRIP DETAILS FOR 2021
Tuesday 15th June – Old Bowlish House, Shepton Mallet
Mr & Mrs Ian Keys will give us an afternoon tour of their Grade II* listed clothier’s mansion and also their extensive gardens which contain fascinating industrial ruins as well as many species of roses. In the early 17thC the house was built on Elizabethan foundations and was a wedding gift to a branch of the Strode family and the Jacobean staircase is particularly interesting. The building was later modernised c.1770 with a classical Georgian frontage and again c.1860 with internal additions.
Our visit ends with a cream tea which is included.
Depart: Rugby Club 1-30pm Bookings from Tuesday 1st June
Wednesday 14th July – A Cultural Visit to Bournemouth
We visit the renowned Russell-Cotes Museum on the cliffs overlooking the sands and pier. The Museum was built in 1901 in the Art Nouveau style as home for Merton and Annie Russell-Cotes in which they could display their numerous treasures from their travels and their mainly Pre-Raphaelite paintings. On our way home we shall have a short stop at Alum Chine for Peter Clark to show us where a young Winston Churchill had a near fatal accident; an incident included in Peter’s recently published book on places associated with Churchill.
The Museum café is small but there are many places nearby to find refreshments.
Cost: £21 or £26 restricted numbers
Depart Rugby Club: 9am
Bookings from Monday 28th June
Thursday 19th August – St. Fagan’s Welsh Heritage Museum, Cardiff
Since 1948 when St. Fagan’s Open Air Museum was opened, there has been a growing collection of over 40 historical buildings rescued from all over Wales and rebuilt using the traditional skills. Besides the examples of milling, blacksmithing, weaving, farming and the use of clay, we shall also see the recent refurbishments and galleries illustrating Welsh people’s lives from Neanderthal times to the present day.
There are ample refreshment facilities available throughout our day here.
Cost: £21 or £26 restricted numbers
Depart Rugby Club: 8-15am (possible short stop en- route)
Bookings from Monday 2nd August
Monday 6th September – The Tudor House Museum and Southampton Old Town
We had two very interesting winter lectures via zoom by one of the curators, Andy Skinner, which whetted our appetites for this visit to the Old Town of Southampton. Historically, the port has always been one of the most important and busiest in Britain with its double high tides and we shall be walking by some of the Town Walls. The Tudor House Museum was closed for about 10 years for refurbishment and for preservation and contains artefacts donated by generations of local inhabitants. Andy will greet us and tell us of the displays showing the local social history.
There is coffee on arrival, (included), but as the restaurant is not large there is the opportunity to picnic in the Tudor Gardens or to visit one of the local pubs for refreshments later.
Cost: £23 or £28 restricted numbers
Depart Rugby Club: 8-30am (short stop at Salisbury in Sainsbury’s car park)
Bookings from Monday 23rd August