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).
2020 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 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 2020
All lectures take place in the Assembly Rooms at the rear of Frome Memorial Theatre (BA11 1EB).Lectures start at 2.30pm apart from the lecture on 21st March 2020, when the talk willbe preceded by the AGM at 2pm. Visitors are welcome but are asked to pay an entry fee of £3.00.
February 22nd 2020. Adrian Tinniswood – Behind the Throne: A Domestic History of the Royal Household
Adrian’s book, ‘Behind the Throne’ is a history of royal fam- ilies. Charles I maintained a household of 2,000 people while Victoria’s medical establishment consisted of thirty doctors, three dentists and a chiropodist. Elizabeth II has a full-time staff of 1,200. A royal household was a communi- ty, a vast machine. Historian Adrian Tinniswood, who last spoke to the Society in December 2016, will uncover the reality of five centuries of life at the English Court, taking us on a remarkable journey from one Queen Elizabeth to another and exploring life as it was lived by clerks, courti- ers, clowns and crowned heads: the power struggles and petty rivalries, the tension between duty and desire; the practicalities of cooking dinner for thousands, or ensuring that the king won when he played a game of tennis. Adri- an’s book will be available to buy.
March 7th 2020. Dave Chapple – Somerset Coal Miners: a social and political history
Dave Chapple is a socialist historian and active trade unionist. His talk will summarise the important landmarks in the long struggle of the Somerset coal miners for dignity and respect from their employers: with famous, or infamous, surnames including Waldegrave, The Duchy of Cornwall, Beauchamp, Rees-Mogg and Daisy Countess of Warwick. These landmarks include the riots of the 18th and early 19th centuries; the early efforts from the 1850’s to 1872 to form a trade union, the serious strikes of 1874, 1889 and 1893, the long-drawn out move from Liberal to Labour support, the Dunkerton riot of January 1909, the bitter defeats of 1921 and 1926, right through to post-war na- tionalisation, 1950’s stabilisation, 1960’s decline and clo- sure in September 1973. The talk will also touch on mine safety, mine accidents and disasters, and the coalfield so- cial culture: quoits, anyone?
March 21st 2020. AGM at 2.00pm followed by
Phil Nichols – Securing the Shadows: Somerset Photographers 1839–1939
The talk will focus on the lives of some of the photogra- phers in Frome and the surrounding area. The earliest of these was Frederick C Bird, who ran a photographic studio in Market Place, Frome from 1856-1866 and his nationally known son Graystone Bird. Another Joseph Humphreys who worked in Frome from 1889-1900 handed himself in to Frome Police in 1895, asking to be charged (for what, will be revealed in the talk!)
Monday 6th July 2020 SPOILS OF WAR – The Treasures, Trophies and Trivia of the British Empire. Rook Lane Chapel 7.30pm (doors 7pm)
An illustrated talk by Christopher Joll based on his newly published book, which has been designed and set in Frome. This is a Frome Festival event.
The author takes a robust and controversial view of the contemporary issues surrounding the repatriation of the nation’s acquisitions with some surprisingly local examples – the mystery of Bath’s missing Crimean War cannons, Hitler’s last desk in Dorchester, Napoleon’s dispatch case in Wilton House, to name just a few.
Christopher Joll presented the Thinking Outside the Box programme about the S.S. Great Britain, which can be seen on YouTube. He is author of the historical fiction series The Speedicut Saga and other publications. He has directed many national events including the world and royal premiere of The Great War Symphony at the Royal Albert Hall in 2018.
Society members benefit from reduced rate tickets (general public priced tickets £8.50) and applications should be submitted no later than 23rd May, 2020. Apply using THIS FORM
[FSLS publications will be on sale before lecture]
TRIPS in 2020
Thursday 2nd April Dyrham Park (NT), South Glos.
Get a flavour of 17th C. life as enjoyed by William Blathwayt, Secretary of War to William of Orange, in this magnificent mansion which contains treasures amassed from around the world. Conservation in the house is ongoing and by April it is hoped the 1st floor will have re-opened with behind the scenes tours but they are subject to the availability of volunteers.
The spring borders should be in full bloom with their colourful bulbs and plants. Garden tours are available but ask at Reception on arrival as these cannot be booked in advance. There are also many attractive walks through the parkland where deer run free.
Lockers are provided to store large bags and belongings before entering the house. There is a tearoom, a shop, second-hand book shop plus plant sales. On arrival we will be taken by bus to the house and after tea it will take us back up the hill to the coach to return home.
Cost: NT Members £8, non-NT £22 Depart Rugby Club: 9am
Phone Bookings from Thursday 12th March
Thursday 16th April 2020 S.S. Great Britain and the new Being Brunel Museum
We have booked one-hour guided tours of Brunel’s S.S. Great Britain to discover this great innovation of the Victorian Age. We shall experience the sights, sounds and smells of life on board this wonderful ship which appears to float in her dry dock.
There will be time to visit the Dockside Café before our tours begin at 11am and 11-15am. We shall explore the ship’s history by going below decks to ‘Steerage’ which vividly contrasts with the cabins and dining saloon that are seen on the upper decks.
In 2019 the award-winning Being Brunel/Museum was opened. On show are never-before-seen possessions, artefacts and documents pertaining to Isambard Kingdom Brunel and entrance to this marvellous new museum is included in our visit to the ship. The Dockyard Café offers a wide range of refreshments including home-cooked meals and cakes. On mentioning the FSLS group visit, we can buy the Guidebook at the discounted price of £2-50.
Cost: £23 Depart Rugby Club: 8-30am
Phone Bookings from Wednesday 1st April Numbers limited to 45
Wednesday 13th May Bridport Museum, the Street Market and Abbotsbury
Our trip to the charming market town of Bridport will give us the opportunity to visit the museum for a rope-making demonstration and talk plus an interesting wander around. We can have a leisurely lunch and browse the street market before journeying on to Abbotsbury for our tea. The history of rope making in Bridport dates back to at least medieval times as the area has been suitable for growing both hemp and flax. Our demonstration will give an idea of this ancient craft.
The town boasts numerous listed buildings. In South Street is the Church of St Mary’s with its history dating back to Saxon times; there is a monumental brass commemorating Edward Coker, killed during the Monmouth rebellion and a monument to a Knight in chain mail dating from about 1250. The church was improved in 1860. Also in South Street are a Chantry, the Daniel Taylor’s almshouses and the more modern Art Deco Electric Palace built in 1926, and the Palmer’s Brewery.
After our visit to the twice weekly street market, exploring the town and then taking lunch in one of the numerous outlets, we return to the coach to journey onwards. We will be taking the scenic route to Abbotsbury, seeing magnificent views over Chesil beach and the coastal scenery. After a delicious cream or savoury tea at the Old School House, (included), we will make our way home.
Cost: £24 Depart Rugby Club: 8-30am (short stop at Cartgate Services on A303)
Phone Bookings from Wednesday 15th April NB: Also book your tea with a sweet or savoury scone.
Monday 1st June Killerton Estate, near Exeter (NT)
Killerton is one of Devon’s largest country estates with lots of history, natural history and many acres to explore. Views of Dartmoor can be seen from the grounds and gardens and by walking further afield to the estate village of Broadclyst, you can visit Marker’s which is a medieval hall-house; the Clyston Mill and the Old Post Office. A buggy service operates to Killerton House and up the hill to Bear’s Hut. The beautiful gardens, redesigned in 2019, are close to the house.
The Georgian house and estate, donated to the National Trust by Sir Richard Acland, holds the Trust’s largest fashion collection with annual exhibitions. Students from Devon’s universities are invited to add their imaginative degree design work to these exhibitions.
You will find a plant centre, a bookshop and also a shop selling award-winning produce from the estate. During our visit we have a choice of eating in the Killerton Kitchen, which is a highly rated restaurant, or in the two other cafés that are on site.
Cost: NT members £14, non-NT £28 Depart Rugby Club: 8-45am (short stop at Taunton Dene Services)
Phone Bookings from Tuesday 12th May
Thursday 11th June Old Bowlish House, Shepton Mallet
The owner of Old Bowlish House, Mr Ian Keys, will give us a lengthy and interesting tour of his home and his extensive gardens that contain many kinds of roses and also a fascinating industrial ruin but be aware of the uneven stone steps leading up to the gardens. Ian might also show us the local workers’ cottages situated in this small and historic part of the town’s outskirts.
This Grade II* clothier’s mansion is a visible expression of the wealth of a branch of the Strode family and was built as a wedding gift in early 17th C but on earlier Elizabethan foundations. It was modernised c.1770 with a classical Georgian frontage and later had internal additions c.1860. The Jacobean staircase is particularly worth seeing and allows access to explore upstairs. Our afternoon tour ends with a homemade cream tea, (included), before returning to Frome.
Cost: £22 Departure from Rugby Club: 1-30pm
Phone Bookings from Thursday 28th May Numbers limited to 25
Monday 22nd June ‘Mayflower 400’ Exhibition, Southampton Old Town
Southampton was the port from which the Mayflower and Speedwell set sail for America. However, they had to put into port at Plymouth for repairs which led to only the Mayflower continuing the voyage. The Tudor House Museum is in the Old Town and close to the city walls where the sea used to reach and where the armies of Henry V left to cross the English Channel to Harfleur before marching to Agincourt. Two centuries later the Pilgrim Fathers left to cross the Atlantic Ocean to colonise part of the eastern coast of North America to be followed in the 19th C. by emigrants escaping poverty to find work and a new home there. The Port of Southampton with its double high tides is as busy as ever with cruise liners and container traffic.
For more than ten years the Tudor House was closed for an entire refurbishment to preserve the building. It contains artefacts donated by local inhabitants and has important displays showing the social history of the area. We are visiting the Museum this year because it is commemorating the sailing of the Pilgrim Fathers in 1620. On arrival, we will have coffee, (included), in the Education and Georgian Rooms before Group 1 tours the House, the new Exhibition and the Tudor Gardens while Group 2 has their ‘Mayflower Walking Tour’, both last about an hour with the groups changing over.
The Museum restaurant cannot cater for us all at the same time for lunch but near the Tudor House are cafés and historic inns such as the Dolphin or Red Lion. After our guided tours we can return to explore further the Tudor House and the interesting buildings and city walls of Old Southampton.
Cost: £22 Depart Rugby Club: 8-30am (short stop in Sainsbury’s car park, Salisbury)
Phone Bookings from Wednesday 10th June
Wednesday 1st July Avebury: the Stone Circle and Manor House (NT)
At Avebury, the world’s largest Neolithic Stone Circle partially encompasses the pretty village which contains the interesting Church of St James that has Saxon and Norman features with later additions; the Stables and the 17th C. Threshing Barn Museums and the Grade 1 listed Avebury Manor House. The coach will drop us by the Red Lion Inn and we have time to seek refreshments in there or in the Circles Café before we either take a guided walk around the whole Stone Circle or choose the much shorter walk and talk by another guide.
Our tickets give us a free-flow visit to the Manor. This was famously restored and furnished with the help of the BBC for its series, ‘To the Manor Reborn’ and visitors are encouraged to linger in each room, for instance you can rest in the Sitting Room used by the 1930s ‘marmalade millionaire’, Alexander Keiller, and perhaps listen to music on the gramophone before moving on to the Kitchen. Then when venturing upstairs we are invited to try out the beds for size and comfort. Later, it is very pleasant to take afternoon tea in the elegant Manor Tea Room or perhaps eat elsewhere before beginning the house tour. Do explore the beautiful Avebury Manor Gardens where the gardeners are always happy to chat about their work with the topiary, the borders and their kitchen garden.
Cost: NT Members £14 Non-NT Members £30 Depart Rugby Club: 9-15am
Phone Bookings from Thursday 18th June
Monday 20th July St Fagan’s Welsh Heritage Museum, Cardiff
St Fagan’s Museum is set in the magnificent grounds of St Fagan’s Castle and since opening in 1948 there have been over 40 historical buildings from all over Wales that have been restored and rebuilt. These showcase the traditional skills and crafts such as milling, blacksmithing, weaving, farming and the use of clay. All this combined with the recent refurbishments and the additional galleries illustrating the stories of the inhabitants of Wales from Neanderthal times to the present have created a fascinating Open Air Museum. On arrival at St Fagan’s we will be greeted with an Introductory Talk and then we can wander at will to explore the buildings. There are ample refreshment facilities to use throughout our day here.
Cost: £20 Depart from Rugby Club: 8-15am (short stop at a Motorway Services)
Phone Bookings from Tuesday 30th June
Monday 10th August Shepton Mallet Prison
Set in the sloping cobbled streets of an older part of Shepton Mallet is the Prison which was established in 1645. We have a choice of guided tours; either the longer one which includes climbing many stairs or the shorter tour which will remain mainly on ground level. The guides will give us an in-depth talk with their tours of the Prison, explaining its history and how the penal system changed through the centuries from the very primitive and harsh conditions to the time of its closure in 2013. There is the condemned cell last used in 1945 and we will learn of the American Military using the prison during WW2 and they may mention the 1967 film, The Dirty Dozen, starring Lee Marvin, Charles Bronson and other famous actors. Afterwards there is a walk through the hidden back lanes to the middle of the town. We will reach St Peter’s Church which is certainly worth a visit before walking on to the Shambles by the Market Cross to choose a place in the town or perhaps in Haskins before the coach returns us to Frome.
Please be aware that the buildings can be cold even in summer so dress warmly.
Cost: £22 Depart from Rugby Club: 9-45am
Phone Bookings from Thursday 16th July Numbers limited to 40
Thursday 3rd September A Cultural Visit to Bournemouth
A visit to the beautiful resort of Bournemouth is always a treat and today we are booked into the Russell-Cotes Museum on the cliffs overlooking the sands and pier. This Museum was built in 1901 in the Art Nouveau style as a home for Merton and Annie Russell-Cotes in which they could house their mainly Pre-Raphaelite paintings and their numerous travellers’ treasures. They also built the adjacent Royal Bath Hotel. The Museum is now owned by the Borough of Bournemouth and although it contains only a small café, there are many restaurants and bars nearby, including a branch of Harry Ramsden’s famous fish and chips emporium and the café on the pier. On arrival we will be given stickers to allow entry to the Museum on a free-flow basis to prevent congestion, thus giving us a choice of looking elsewhere for refreshments before going in.
Peter Clark has been writing a book about places associated with Winston Churchill and on our way home we will stop at Alum Chine. Peter will show us the site of a near fatal accident which befell the eighteen year old Winston; the result of a reckless and foolish prank.
Cost: £20 Depart Rugby Club: 9am
Phone Bookings from Thursday 6th August
Wednesday 23rd September Winchester: the College and Cathedral
A few years ago some of us were guided through Winchester to reach the River Itchen where it is believed that John Keats composed his ‘Ode to Autumn’. We walked through the Cathedral Close to College Street, passing the house where Jane Austen died in 1817 before lingering briefly at the entrance to Winchester College. Today we return to have a guided tour of this oldest of medieval schools for boys. It was founded in 1382 by Bishop William of Wykeham who gave its memorable motto of ‘Manners Makyth Man’. Photography is not allowed within the College.
Winchester is a city offering a varied and interesting choice of places to eat lunch. Afterwards we shall meet our guides in Winchester Cathedral who will be giving us a tour lasting about an hour. There will be time after the tour to explore the Cathedral a little more before having tea in either the café inside the Cathedral Close or finding another in the city. We return to the coach waiting south of the Guildhall by Thornycroft’s striking statue of King Alfred, (cast c. 1900 at Singer’s Foundry).
Cost: £27 Depart Rugby Club: 8-15am (short stop at Sutton Scotney Services on A34)
Phone Bookings from Wednesday 2nd September
19th – 23rd July 2021 BIENNIAL RESIDENTIAL TRIP: NORTH WALES
Paul, Joyce and Derek are organising the five-day visit to North Wales staying at Bangor University with several interesting trips proposed throughout. The total cost will be £425 per person, payable as a £50 non-refundable deposit to be enclosed with the application, followed by three £125 instalments due on 1st July 2020, 1st November 2020 and 1st March 2021.
If you are interested in joining us please complete the form HERE and return it, together with a cheque for £50 as non-refundable deposit (or ask about paying by online banking) to:
Paul Truscott, 50 Feltham Drive, Frome, BA11 5AF or Joyce and Derek Wilson, 2 Hawksworth Close, Frome, BA11 2XW (Tel. 01373 302643).
Applications will only be accepted from 21st March, 2020.