Talks, Trips & Events

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).

2022 TRIPS
This year the Trips Committee have arranged a varied programme of outings which we hope you will enjoy.  Some venues have a lack of volunteers returning this year which means we have set a limit of 40 places on all trips.  We are expected to follow the social distancing rules.

Thursday 11th August – St Fagans, Cardiff
Since 1948 when the St Fagans National Museum of History opened, a growing collection of over 40 historical buildings from all over Wales have been rescued and rebuilt using traditional skills. The Museum is in the grounds of St Fagans Castle.  Besides the examples of milling, blacksmithing, weaving, farming and the use of clay, we shall see the recent refurbishments and additions such illustrating Welsh people’s lives from pre-history to the present day.

The Museum is holding online talks and for a small donation they can be accessed via the St Fagans website. The Curators and the Conservators will be sharing their specialist knowledge, all followed by Q&A sessions and covering Natural Sciences; Social and Cultural History; Industrial History; Art; Archaeology and Numismatics.

Depart from Rugby Club: 8-30am Costs: £19 Bookings from Thursday 28th July

Thursday 25th August – Royal West of England Academy, Bristol
This visit follows from the excellent lecture given in November 2021 by Alison Bevan, Chief Executive of the Royal West of England Academy, when she outlined the fascinating history of this illustrious building which was founded in the 1880s by Ellen Sharples and also told us about the extensive refurbishment over the past months.  The Academy is due to open in April and Alison has offered to give Frome Society members a talk and guided tour.  Our programme will include entry to their autumn exhibition called Earth: Digging Deep in British Art 1715-2022 which will chart the progression of landscape painting over time from the sublime to our current state of emergency.

The refurbishment includes extending the café facilities to outdoor as well as indoor seating and a wide range of refreshments.  We plan to leave Frome at 9.00am to hopefully have time for coffee before Alison Bevan’s talk and guided tour at 11.00am and plan to leave Bristol by 4.00pm to avoid the rush hour.  This will give time to explore the Gallery and maybe visit the area which is in the heart of Bristol.

Depart from Rugby Club: 9-00am Cost: £17 Bookings from Wednesday 10th August

Wednesday 14th September – Winchester: Cathedral and College
‘Manners Makyth Man’ is William of Wykeham’s College Motto. His school was founded in 1332 and is the oldest of its type in England. As well as our guided tour of the College’s medieval buildings, we have a tour of the Cathedral to look forward to.  The Cathedral was begun in 1079 on the orders of William the Conqueror but the Monastery was dissolved in 1532 by Henry VIII. In the vicinity of the present building is buried evidence of earlier Saxon churches. Within the Cathedral are many monuments; for instance, in the north nave aisle are the engraved words of Henry Austen in 1817 marking his sister Jane’s grave which make no reference to her literary genius.

A year later, John Keats visited Winchester and described it as, ‘The pleasantest town I ever was in’, and in between our guided tours we also can have a pleasant time by having a wander outside the close.

Depart from Rugby Club: 8-15am Cost: £30 Bookings from Wednesday 24th August

Bookings: call Pat Eames on 464464 after 9am. If necessary, please leave a message and your phone number.
Cancellations must be made not less than 48 hours before the outing. Failure to do so will incur the cost of the coach and possible further costs non-refundable to the Society.
Any communication must be made to the Society, not to the Coach Company.
The preferred method of payment is by cheque (payable to FSLS) collected when boarding the coach at the end of the trip. The price shown includes coach fare, entrance fees, guides and gratuities.
Guests will pay a supplementary charge of £3 and are responsible for their own travel insurance.
There is always a facility for buying lunch, if not included, or you may prefer to take a picnic.
Pick up points are:
FROME RUGBY CLUB (advertised departure time)
The Rugby Club offers a large parking area which will accommodate all members who wish to park their cars there before boarding the coach.  Please park behind the Clubhouse.
2022/3 TALKS

All lectures take place in the Assembly Rooms at the rear of Frome Memorial Theatre (BA11 1EB) and start at 2.30pm except on 18 March 2023, when the lecture will be preceded by the Society’s AGM at 2.00pm. Lectures are free for members, visitors pay £3 (2022) and £5 (2023).

Saturday 8th October 2022 – Dr Cathryn Spence: Nature’s Favourite Child: Thomas Robins and the Art of the Geogian Garden

Dr Cathryn Spence is a museum professional, lecturer and historic gardens and buildings consultant, now LordLansdowne’s consultant Archivist and Curator at  Bowood House, Wiltshire. She has written many books and her latest is the first full study of Thomas Robins since John Harris’s Gardens of Delight, published in 1978.Cathryn will take us on a journey from Gloucestershire to Shropshire via Bath and Dorset illustrating the extraordinary skill of this delightful artist. Chinoiserie is everywhere — a wooden bridge over the Thames, delicious kiosks in a garden, a view of Bath with sampans, and Chinese fishermen on the river. Robins also captured views of monastic ruins, such as Wenlock and Buildwas.

If you are interested in purchasing a copy of Cathryn’s book, which is priced at £40, please email her at Cathryn will bring your copy to the talk.

Saturday 22nd October 2022 – The Katharine Ashworth Memorial Lecture
Dr Pat Smith: The 1813 Cruse Map of Frome Selwood: land, landowners and occupiers in the early 19th century

The Cruse map of Frome Selwood is a remarkable survey of the whole Parish in 1813, showing fields, buildings, farms, hamlets, lanes, streets, mills, bridges, turnpikes and many other details: over 3000 numbered plots in total. Measuring 3.5 metres high by over 2 metres wide, the map was drawn up in full colour by Jeremiah Cruse of Bath, a leading land surveyor of his time who worked extensively for the Marquis of Bath at Longleat.

Dr Pat Smith, a writer and an architectural historian, is working with other members of the Frome Society forLocal Study to prepare this great work for publication. She will illustrate her talk with many interesting features of the map and will also explain what the accompanying index, completed in 1814, tells us about how the land was used and who owned and occupied each plot. The map will be published as a limited edition Atlas in spring 2023.

Saturday 5th November 2022 – Tim Hill: Autumn Fires

Tim has been making celebrations for over 20 years and recently organised the ‘Sound of the Streets’ Festival in Taunton. He has spent many years researching the traditions of celebration, outdoor music, parades and processions and the ways we love to gather, feast and dance! Autumn is a time of feasts and fires, when we set things alight, play tricks and games and eat rich food! Tim’s talk will be illustrated with photos and pictures and feature songs and music too.

Saturday 19th November 2022 – Amy Jeffs and Lisa Kenwright: Storyland: A New
Mythology of Britain, and Wild: Tales from Early Medieval Britain

Since her last talk to the Society in December 2019, Amy Jeffs has been busy setting up a home and family in Frome and all the while writing and illustrating books and articles. She has now written two books on the mythologies of Britain, Storyland and Wild. Soaked in mist and magic, Storyland is a new illustrated history of Britain seen through medieval eyes. Grounded in meticulous research, it is filled with places we know, and can still visit, and characters half-remembered: Lear in Leicester, Merlin in Stonehenge, Grim in Grimsby, St Columba on the River Ness, each episode illustrated with a linocut print by the author. In Wild, Amy journeys on foot and through medieval texts from landscapes of desolation to hope, offering an insight into a world both distant and profoundly close, blending reflections of travel with medieval texts that speak of the natural world. These two books are rooted deep in the ancient British landscape and will delight lovers of history, art, myth and stories. Amy will be talking to Lisa Kenwright, a local storyteller, folklore researcher, history guide and radio presenter, about her research, travels and writings and showing some of her linocuts.

Copies of her books will be on sale.

Saturday 3rd December 2022 – Fanny Charles and Gay Pirrie-Weir: Digging into Deepest Somerset

Fanny and Gay are the authors and editors of the ‘Deepest’ book series. ‘Deepest Somerset is their third and latest title. They are also co-editors of the Fine Times Recorder website which covers performing and visual arts, food, travel, literature and environmental news in the West Country. They are both now freelance writers and have lived in Wincanton for 32 years. Their talk will introduce us to their latest book which features fascinating people, places and stories they have discovered from ancient industry to cutting edge technology, from the Monmouth rebellion to the English folk song revival, high fashion to the finest artisan cheese.

Copies of the Somerset and Wiltshire books will be on sale. (Dorset is sold out).  All proceeds will go to charities within the counties.

Saturday 17th December 2022 – Yvette Staelens: Folk Carols in the West Country

Folk Carols in the West Country; Wassails, Nativity, West Gallery, seasonal doggerel for begging? Christmas has always been a time of singing and giving, specifically the sharing of seasonal songs and carols. Here in the West Country there are rich traditions and carols of some antiquity, as well as the gleanings of a raft of collectors who went out to discover them. Yvette Staelens, has for many years researched folk songs and folk carols and organised the Voice of the People Community Choirs and singing workshops, and in this talk, she will explore some of these songs and traditions, identify source singers, and meet collectors and composers who have gifted us a rich legacy of Christmas fare.

There will be CDs for sale and copies of the Somerset Folk Map.

Saturday 7th January 2023 – Gary Kearley: The Frome Tunnels

Gary Kearley has a degree in History, Heritage and Archaeology.  He is a volunteer at Frome Heritage Museum and an expert in the history and archaeology of Frome’s elusive tunnels.  He has been leading tours of the tunnels for six years and frequently gives presentations on the subject. Gary, with Andrew Pickering, is the co-author of Secret Frome, the book within which the first chapter ‘Underground Frome’ starts with: Few who stand and admire Frome’s elegant Georgian buildings, including the Grade 1 listed Rook Lane Chapel and the Blue House, realise that there is a whole different world under their feet, with structures that predate anything found above ground. Excited by persistent local stories of tunnels under Frome, but frustrated by the lack of access or real information, a group of enthusiasts gathered a few years back to investigate things. Through site investigations, historical document research, interviews and tip-offs the missing pieces of the jigsaw of part of Frome’s history from 300-400 years are being assembled. This illustrated talk brings us up to date with findings.

Saturday 21st January 2023 – Jane Tapley: Risen from the Ashes: the story of the Theatre Royal, Bath

Jane Tapley is an experienced lecturer and Arts Society speaker. She has been a Special Events Organiser for the Theatre Royal, Bath for the last 35 years, interviewing actors and authors as well as giving talks on many subjects including Jane Austen, Dickens and Agatha Christie.  Her talk will cover the history of the Theatre Royal from its building in 1805 to modern times including the restoration after a major fire in 1862, when the theatre was completely destroyed apart from the outside walls.

Saturday 4th February 2023 – Ric Weeks: The Roman Experience at The Newt in Somerset

In 2013, South Africans Koos Bekker and Karen Roos bought the Grade II* 17th century Hadspen House and its 800-acre estate near Bruton; long time home of the Hobhouse family. Extensive subsequent investment and development has resulted in the creation of a country estate reimagined, called The Newt after its 2,000 resident reptiles, including a first-class hotel. Ric Weeks, an archaeologist working at The Newt, will tell us about a Roman Villa that was excavated in the grounds of the estate and how he has helped to create the Roman Experience, a state-of-the-art museum and reimagined Roman Villa. He will also take us on a visual tour of the gardens, designed by the French landscape architect, Patrice Taravella, including the late 18th century egg shaped parabola walled gardens with its 267 apple cultivars, the award winning garden museum and treetop walkway, cider press and bar, the “no-dig” kitchen garden, chicken nests, bakery, farm shop, Beezantium, Japanese garden, deer park, woodland walks, garden restaurant and many other attractions that are constantly being added to, to create an unforgettable pastoral idyll in rural Somerset.

Saturday 18th February 2023 – Richard Irving: A Brief History of the Stone Mines and Quarries at Combe Down, near Bath

Richard Irving, President of the Combe Down Heritage Society and author of  A History of the Byfield Mine, will tell us about the story of the Combe Down stone mines, as seen from the perspectives of three individuals whose lives depended upon the quarrying of Bath stone: Ralph Allen, William Smith, and Philip Nowell. Ralph Allen (1693-1764) first developed the mines, providing stone for the building of Georgian Bath.  William Smith, or ‘Strata Smith’ (1769-1839), is known as the ‘Father of English Geology’ and is in many ways typical of the many small-scale quarry masters who worked the mines in the early 19th century.  His venture failed. Philip Nowell (1780-1853) was the third son of another quarry master. Skilled as a master-mason, it was he who fulfilled Smith’s dream of making Bath stone popular as a building material throughout the nation, through his work at Longleat House, Windsor Castle, and various projects in London. Stone quarrying at Combe Down declined after the 1840s, and now just one quarry remains in operation.  The old mines were infilled a few years ago in a major stabilisation project requiring complex engineering, and taking many years to complete. Richard will tell us how this was achieved and as part of the project a new Museum of Bath Stone was created.

Copies of Richard’s book will be on sale.

Saturday 4th March 2023 – David Chandler: Tate: Master Watercolour

David began teaching art to adults over 20 years ago. In 2011 he co-founded Frome Community Education and his practical book for watercolourists, based on research into the Tate’s collection of 45,000 works on paper, which is the subject of his talk, was published in 2021.  David will take us through this initial search, where 45,000 had to be reduced to 30, with each one needing a lesson written at a variety of levels, from beginner to experienced. Each lesson was documented and photos taken. This was a tour de force which covers more than 140 pages of his book and took two and a half years to complete.

Saturday 18th March 2023 – Rod Hughes: Ancient Crafts in the Modern World

This talk will be preceded at 2.00pm by the Annual General Meeting.

Rod Hughes is an engineer and product designer, who appeared on the BBC’s programme in the Victorian House of Arts and Crafts. He will talk about his work creating swords as an example of recreating the past, and in that way preserving ancient crafts and knowledge and will speak about the relevance of retaining such knowledge and skills in a modern world.  He will, by way of example, reference the rise and demise of Fussels of Mells as a local example of a lost parallel industry of tool making.


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