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).

2019 Talks & Trips

TALKS  – Assembly Rooms, Christchurch St West, Frome
All talks start at 2.30pm. Frome Society publications are on sale.
Non-Members £3 extra for outings or talks
TRIPS –   We are trialling a plan to provide two Departure Points.  NOTE THE NEW LOCATION! The main Departure/Return point will be at the Rugby Club – please park behind the clubhouse.
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.

 Bookings to Pat Eames on 464464. Alt. for emergency use 07493 419398

Guests pay £3 supplement. Please mention any dietary needs when you book and remember you are responsible for your own insurance.


TALKS  – Assembly Rooms, Christchurch St West, Frome

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.

October 5th 2019. Clare Lyall – Trowbridge Museum: Onwards and Upwards

Clare has worked in the Museum and Heritage sector for the last 27 years and has had overall responsibility for managing Trowbridge Museum’s £2.4 million expansion over the last 5 years. This has included a grant of £1.2 million from the Heritage Fund. Clare’s talk entitled ‘Onwards and Upwards’, the project’s mantra, will describe the process of getting to where they are with the project and how Trowbridge’s expanded museum will look and the impact it will have upon heritage in the region.

October 19th 2019. Richard Brunning – The Lost Islands of Somerset

Richard is an archaeologist with the South West Heritage Trust. He has particular responsibility for the Somerset Levels and Moors area. They form a natural floodplain at the heart of Somerset with deep deposits of peat and clay built up over thousands of years. ‘Islands’ of hard geology rise up above these deposits forming dry areas of land, safe from winter flooding, that have formed the natural focus for human activity over the last 10,000 years. Richard will talk about recent archaeological evidence for some of that human activity from the earliest Mesolithic hunter gatherers to the medieval period. Richard’s books will be available to buy.

November 2nd 2019. Annette Burkitt – Frome’s Dark Age Landscape

Using information and research from a combination of sources including history, archaeology, folklore and place names, Annette will try to see if these can help us to peer into our landscape’s early history. Who were its inhabit- ants? What do we know about the British Kingdom of Dumnonia? Can we discern anything about the pre-Saxon past and how important a place was Frome in Wessex? Annette’s book ‘Flesh and Bones of Frome Selwood and Wessex’ will be available to buy.

The Ashworth Memorial Lecture

November 16th 2019. Peter Wigley – William Smith’s Geological Mapping in Somerset

Peter is a geologist with a long-standing interest in William Smith’s maps. William Smith was born in Oxfordshire in 1769 but it was in Somerset that he did much of his early geological mapping and, while working as a surveyor on the Somerset Coal Canal, developed the concept of layer- ing of strata, a science now known as stratigraphy. Peter will show examples of Smith’s early geological maps around Bath. His original survey of the canal, together with Jeremiah Cruse’s map of the canal, will be discussed using modern geology and high-resolution elevation data (LI- DAR). Of all the counties of England that Smith mapped geologically it was Somerset that he knew best yet little of his detailed mapping of the county survives. One exception is a John Cary County Map of Somerset which includes some of his geological line work. This map has now been reconstructed and will be discussed during the talk with emphasis on the areas around Frome. As an illustration, Smith’s geology will be overlain on Jeremiah Cruse’s 1813 map of Frome. Peter has created an interactive website of Smith’s maps


November 30th 2019. Michael Hill – The Revised Pevsner for Dorset
Michael is an architectural historian and an expert on the historic buildings of Dorset. The 48 volumes of The Build- ings of England, originally written by Nikolaus Pevsner, between 1951 and 1974, are being comprehensively re- vised and enlarged. In the original Pevsner for Dorset, one of the last to be completed, Nikolaus Pevsner visited all the churches and John Newman visited all the secular build- ings. In the revised edition, Michael has visited all of them and will share some of his experiences with us.

December 14th 2019. Amy Jeffs – A Picture Book for a Medieval Knight (in-training)
Amy has a PhD in Art History from the University of Cam- bridge for which she researched illustrated history manu- scripts. Her main focus was on one in the British Library dated 1338-40 which is a compendium of somewhat swashbuckling British and French legends in vernacular verse with dynamic illustrations. It includes one of the ear- liest illustrations of Stonehenge and the earliest image of the tomb of Edward II in Gloucester cathedral. The book is thought to have been made for a young boy in the south- west of England. Amy will be especially concerned with how it can be shown that a book, 680 years old, was de- signed to be enjoyed, pored over and read at bed-time.

January 11th 2020. Chris Eldridge – The Normans in Wessex

Chris is head of history at Wells Cathedral School. Last Jan- uary he spoke to us about Alfred the Great and the Somer- set Connection. This time he will turn his attention to the Normans. His talk will include a description of the origins of the Normans, the part that Somerset played in the events of 1066 and how Wessex was reshaped by Norman occu- pation.

January 25th 2020. Francis Greenacre – From Bristol to the Sea

Francis was Curator of Fine Art at Bristol Museum and Art Gallery from 1969 to 1997. Most often remembered are the exhibitions celebrating the artists of the Bristol School, which Francis has done so much to promote. These have included a 1989 show of Francis Danby’s works, which went on to the Tate Gallery and the exhibitions of Samuel Jackson’s watercolours, W J Muller and the ‘Marine Artists of Bristol’. The Avon Gorge has ensured that no other in- land port has a more various and spectacular approach to its harbour than Bristol. This lecture will tell the story of a maritime city whose dramatic history and superb setting has inspired artists over the last three centuries. It will include the work of artists who visited Bristol such as J M W Turner, Thomas Girtin, J S Cotman, Albert Goodwin, the Nashes and Ravilious as well as resident artists such as Francis Danby and the artists of the Bristol School. High- lights will include Muller’s remarkable sketches of the 1831 Bristol Riots, Jackson’s watercolours of Brunel’s alternative proposals for the Clifton Suspension Bridge and Walter’s paintings of Brunel’s Great Western and Great Britain.

February 8th 2020. Andy Linham – Remembering the Somerset and Dorset Railway

The S&D was a line connecting Bath and Bournemouth, with a branch from Evercreech Junction to Burnham-on- Sea, and connection to a ferry across the Bristol Channel to Wales. Known as the ‘Slow and Dirty’ or the ‘Slow and Doubtful’ it was closed in 1966 as part of the Beeching cuts despite protests from the local community. Andrew will tell us about the history and development of the line and show his original film footage of a journey across the Somerset Levels and one from Bath to Bournemouth.

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 union- ist. 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!)

Non-Members £3 extra for outings or talks

[FSLS publications will be on sale before lecture]

HDromanRLC talk

To join the FSLS please fill out a membership form from this page.