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
6 October 2018 – Mary Wright – E W Godwin, the Greatest Aesthete of Them All
Mary Wright, a local historian living in Bristol, will talk about Edward Godwin, who was one of Bristol’s most emi- nent Victorians. He was an archaeologist, an architect, a designer of highly original Anglo-Japanese style furniture and a creator of theatre sets and costumes. Liberty’s, Oscar Wilde and Whistler were his clients, and Ellen Terry his mistress. Godwin was influential in the Aesthetic Movement that created the ‘look’ of Victorian England. Godwin was also passionate about Bristol and its architectural lega- cy, and he set up the city’s first Conservation Society.
13 October 2018 – 60th Birthday Celebration at Selwood School
3 November 2018 – Paul Wynne – The challenges facing Frome Town Council in 2018
Paul Wynne has lived in Frome for the past 18 years and has been the Clerk of the Town Council since 2012. He has overall responsibility for delivering the work of the Council, ensuring that services meet local needs, that the local community is properly represented, and striving to improve the quality of life in Frome. Paul was previously the deputy clerk for four years, and prior to that he worked for various public sector and charity sector environmental organisations doing various jobs from lobbying Westminster through to tree planting and many things in between.
Paul will briefly chart some of the more significant changes experienced by Frome over the last 15 years or so, and then focus on the challenges that face Frome today.
17 November 2018 – Colin Thomas -Slaughter No Remedy, Harry Patch, Walter Ayles and the First World War
Colin Thomas is a television producer/director. His awards include a Jury Prize at the Celtic Film Festival, a Prix Europa and three Best Documentary awards from BAFTA Wales. He is author of Dreaming A City – from Wales to Ukraine, The Dragon and the Eagle and Slaughter No Remedy.
For Harry Patch and Walter Ayles, the outbreak of the First World War was a testing time. From sharply different backgrounds, they initially responded very differently, Harry becoming a member of a machine gun team on the Western Front, Walter going to prison as a conscientious objector. But they ended up with the same perspective on ‘the war to end wars’. The talk will be illustrated with ex- cerpts from television programmes made by the speaker.
1 December 2018 – Roger Leech – From the Trinity Area to Bristol: Town houses further explored
In 1981, with the assistance of Frome Society member, the late Derek Gill, Roger Leech, currently Visiting Professor in Archaeology at the University of Southampton, wrote the book Early Industrial Housing: The Trinity Area of Frome. The book identified the Trinity Area, dating from c.1665, as one of the earliest surviving planned urban developments for a semi-industrial population in England.
Professor Leech will describe his survey of the houses in Trinity and link this research to his more recent work, published in his book on The Town House in Medieval and Early Modern Bristol, and he will show how these houses reveal the social structure and aspirations of Bristol’s citizens.
5 December 2018 – Chris Billinghurst – The Monarch’s Way: the amazing tale of Charles II’s Escape
In 1649 Charles I was executed and in 1651 his son Charles, later to become Charles II, and his Royalist followers, in a vain attempt to overthrow Cromwell’s Parliamentary Army, were heavily defeated at the Battle of Worcester.
For the next six weeks, and over a distance of 625 miles, Charles, in disguise, traversed southern England, attempting to escape to France. Chris Billinghurst has walked The Monarch’s Way, a long-distance footpath which follows Charles’ escape route, and she will describe both the historical events surrounding his escape and the very beautiful and varied countryside through which the route passes. With a £1000 bounty on his head, Charles was hotly pur- sued by the Parliamentary forces.
He travelled first north towards Wales, then south through the Cotswolds and the Mendips to the South Coast, and finally along the South Downs to Shoreham where he made his escape to France, where he was to spend the next nine years. Loyally supported by his followers, many at great risk to their own lives, he was given shelter in places both great and humble, many of which still exist today and will be described in the talk.
[FSLS publications will be on sale before lecture]
5 January 2019 – Chris Eldridge – Alfred the Great and the Somerset Connection
Chris Eldridge is the Head of History at Wells Cathedral School. One of his areas of special interest is Anglo-Saxon history, especially the reign of Alfred the Great. Chris will be exploring the kingdom of Wessex that Alfred inherited, his stand against the Vikings and the resultant legacy of England, the world’s first nation state. Somerset, a constituent shire of Wessex, was at the heart of this process and he will focus on the role of its people and places, particularly in the desperate months at the start of 878 when Alfred was a fugitive in the marshes of Athelney.
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 – Clare Moody MEP – Experience of rep- resenting the South-West Region and Gibraltar in the European Parliament at a time of massive change
Clare Moody is one of six MEPs elected in May 2014 to represent the South-West Region and Gibraltar in the European Parliament. She is a member of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats and sits on a number of Committees including Foreign Affairs, Security and Defence, and Women’s rights and Gender Equality. Clare lives in Salisbury. She started work at the Banking, Insurance and Finance Union, and through a series of union amalgamations became a regional officer for Unite the Union in Bournemouth. Clare worked at Number 10 during Gordon Brown’s premiership. Clare’s top priority is to her constituents, and she will talk about her experiences representing the South West and Gibraltar.
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.