Web site designed, created and maintained by Janet Groome, Handshake Computer Training.
Lectures All society lectures start at 11.00am at the Victoria Hall. Membership year 2023/24 22 February DOUGLAS SKEGGS Art in 19TH Century Venice - ‘Poets, Painters and Private Lives in Venice” For centuries Venice had been an inspiration to artists and writers. At the peak of the Republic’s power, the rich Venetian light warmed the paintings of Titian and Tintoretto. Then, as the city’s influence began to ebb, its intricate architecture provided the backdrop for the works of Canaletto and Guardi. And finally, as it slipped away into obscurity, its rotting remains attracted artists, poets and writers from all over the world. Ruskin measured and recorded every mosaic and crumbling arch of the city. Henry James and Thomas Mann found stories in the sad remains of its past. Lord Byron led a life of inspired dissolution above the Grand Canal. Turner dissolved the city in the lilac light of the lagoon, Monet tracked the reflections of the canals across the disintegrating facades of ancient palaces and John Singer Sargent painted in the shaded back streets where the traditions of Venetian life still thrived. This lecture is a purely personal tour of 19th century Venice in search of these painters, poets and authors, the strange and often bizarre lives they led in the city, the customs and rituals they found when they arrived and the rich and varied succession of images they created that ultimately transformed the hard city of the Venetian Republic into the romantic legend it is today. John Singer Sargent: Street in Venice 1882. Photo Wikimedia Commons 28 March 2024 CHRIS ASLAN How to get down from a Yak - Adventures in Central Asian Nomadic Textiles Houses made from wool that warm in the depths of winter, carpets that tell stories, woven bands that appease ancestors, embroideries that ward off evil, and kilims that store kitchenware, with everything ready to be packed and carried on yak, or camel at a moment’s notice; the little-known nomadic textile cultures of the Kyrgyz, Turkoman and Karakalpak are explored in this lecture, along with the rise and fall of nomadism and where nomadism fits within the modern world. Chris also shares from his own experience of working with nomadic yak herders in the High Pamirs for three years. Yak near Yamdrok lake, Tibet. Photo: Wikimedia Commons 25 April 2024 LUCIA GAHLIN ‘Wonderful things!’ Tutankhamum’s Tomb and Treasures The discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb by Howard Carter in 1922 was arguably the greatest archaeological discovery of the twentieth century. The name of this boy-king conjures up wonderful imagery and mysterious tales of the pharaohs. In this lecture I shall explore this unusual tomb and its iconic treasures. I shall examine the design and decoration of the most famous tomb in the Valley of the Kings. I shall discuss Carter’s discovery of the tomb, and explore what happened to the incredible wealth of funerary goods found inside. I shall survey these fabulous treasures, from Tutankhamun’s golden shrines to his ornate board games. Unbroken Seal on the Third Shrine of Tutankhamun's tomb. Harry Burton (English, 1879–1940) Public domain 23 May 2024 CHRIS GARIBALDI The Architecture of Inigo Jones, John Webb and William Samwell Whilst Inigo Jones (1573–1652) became Surveyor of the Kings Works in 1611, John Webb (1611–1672), his sometime pupil, assistant and natural successor, failed to secure the same formal role. Webb was nevertheless one of the most important and influential architects working in England in the mid-seventeenth century and was responsible for many important royal commissions. Designing part of the palace of Greenwich for Charles II and alterations to the Queen’s House in 1662, he also completed significant alterations at Belvoir Castle, home to the Dukes of Rutland, between 1654 and 1668. During the same period his work influenced that of the gentleman architect William Samwell (1628–1676) who built the palace at Newmarket between 1668 and 1671. Based on recent research, this lecture looks at the relationship between the work of these three architects for their respective royal and aristocratic patrons and places them in the context of pre-Civil War and Restoration architecture more generally, examining their lasting legacy and influence. Belvoir Castle. Photo Tanya Dedyukhina. Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 27 June 2024 ANNE SEBBA The Story of the Cook Sisters and how they used Opera to save lives Ida and Louise Cook were destined never to marry after decimation of the men of their generation in World War One. When Ida became a successful Mills and Boon novelist they used their earnings to indulge their love of opera, travelling all over the world but especially to Salzburg. Familiarity with Austria enabled these two eccentric opera loving sisters to undertake dangerous undercover missions in the 1930s rescuing Jewish musicians and others from the Nazis. This talk will explore the world of Opera in the 1920s and 30s - the clothes, music, celebrities, and the signed photographs coveted by fans. It will also show how Opera transformed the lives not just of these two sisters but of at least 29 families they saved. In 2010 the Government posthumously created the Cook sisters British Heroes of the Holocaust. Click here for the background of the sisters. 22 August 2024 TOBIAS CAPWELL The Scoliotic Knight: Reconstructing the real Richard 111 The discovery of the grave of King Richard III in Leicester raised an army of new and fascinating questions. The severe scoliosis exhibited by the skeleton revealed that the twisted physique of Shakespeare’s ‘Black Legend’ was based in fact. But how could a diminutive person, suffering from a significant spinal condition, have become a skilled practitioner of the knightly fighting arts? How could he have worn armour and fought in three major battles? What would his armour have looked like? How might it have disguised the King’s condition, presenting him as a powerful warrior? In the case of a king whose royal legitimacy was questioned by many people, how were the visual trappings of knightly kingship used to solidify his claim? Here we encounter armour as an expressive art-form, designed to radiate messages, justifications, proof of the wearer’s right to rule as a king- a wielder of divine power on Earth. In 2015 Toby had the unusual honour of serving as one of the two fully armoured horsemen escorting the remains of King Richard III, from the battlefield at Bosworth to their final resting place in Leicester Cathedral. Toby is Curator of Arms and Armour at the Wallace Collection in London and an internationally-acknowledged authority on Medieval and Renaissance weapons. He is the author of numerous books on the subject of arms and armour, including Masterpieces of European Arms and Armour at the Wallace Collection (2011; Apollo Magazine Book of the Year 2012); The Noble Art of the Sword: Fashion and Fencing in Renaissance Europe 1520- 1630, ex. cat. (2012); Armour of the English Knight 1400-1450 (2015; Military History Monthly Illustrated Book of the Year 2017); and most recently Arms and Armour of the Medieval Joust (2018). Toby also appears regularly on television, most recently on A Stitch in Time (2018; BBC4); as presenter and armour advisor on Richard III: The New Evidence (2014; C4), and as the writer and presenter of Metalworks: The Knight's Tale (2012; BBC4). Photo: Digital-Designs, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 26 September 2024 CHLOE SAYER The Maya Heritage: Ancient and Modern Maya culture The civilisation of the ancient Maya reached its peak between AD 300- 900. Across much of present-day Mexico, Belize, Guatemala and Honduras, dozens of great cities have been located, many still buried in remote parts of the jungle. Maya achievements in art and architecture were matched by a knowledge of maths, astrology, calendrics and hieroglyphic writing. Mural paintings, ceramic figurines and intricately carved stone panels provide an insight into the religious rituals, music, warfare, textiles and courtly life of the Maya. Today some six million Maya carry on many of the traditions of their ancestors. Maya Mural Maya Gallery, INAH, National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico City. Photo: Gary Todd Creative Commons Zero, Public Domain Dedication 24 October 2024 SALLY DORMER Medieval Combs: Disentangling Lockdown Locks Combs survive in abundance from the Middle Ages. The majority, carved from bone or wood, were practical objects used to remove unwelcome tangles and lice, and arrange the hair, but others, fashioned from ivory and ornamented with decoration and intricate narratives, performed more elevated roles. Ivory combs decorated with scenes of courtly love and chivalry were exchanged as gifts by wealthy lovers, to beguile or demonstrate commitment, while those carved with sacred themes, played a part in ceremonial rituals involving high-ranking ecclesiastics and secular rulers. Bishops had their hair combed during their investitures, as did priests before they celebrated a Mass, and an emperor’s locks were combed in the course of his coronation. This lecture will explore why well-groomed hair was desirable in the Middle Ages, consider contemporary images of combs in use, and examine medieval combs from church treasuries and museums, some connected with individuals like St Cuthbert (d. 687), and, paradoxically, Emperor Charles the Bald (d. 877)! Double and single-side composite antler combs decorated with ring and dot motifs, Early Middle Ages, found in on the grounds of the Wawel Castle Hill. Photo: Silar Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 The Start of our membership year 2024/25 28 November 2024 IMOGEN CORRIGAN The Glories of Anglo-Saxon England It seems that many peoples over many centuries have wanted to live in and claim England as their own. Why? For some incoming settlers, England can’t have been the most obvious choice as richer pickings might have been had by heading southwards or eastwards. Here we will see not only who came, but also why. We will look at the many great attractions of England, not just the varied and rich pastures and natural wealth beyond belief today, but also - perhaps surprisingly – unparalleled education, justice and hierarchy: it was a good place to settle upon your heirs.
Lectures Membership year 2022/23 Lectures start at 11am Members may apply to the Membership Secretary for PRIOR PERMISSION to bring one guest to two meetings per year. Restrictions will apply to numbers using the hall. Guests must be booked in by the Monday prior to the lecture. A fee of £5 is charged for each guest. All society lectures start at 11.00am at the Victoria Hall. Start of the new Membership year 2023/24 22 February DOUGLAS SKEGGS Art in 19TH Century Venice - ‘Poets, Painters and Private Lives in Venice” For centuries Venice had been an inspiration to artists and writers. At the peak of the Republic’s power, the rich Venetian light warmed the paintings of Titian and Tintoretto. Then, as the city’s influence began to ebb, its intricate architecture provided the backdrop for the works of Canaletto and Guardi. And finally, as it slipped away into obscurity, its rotting remains attracted artists, poets and writers from all over the world. Ruskin measured and recorded every mosaic and crumbling arch of the city. Henry James and Thomas Mann found stories in the sad remains of its past. Lord Byron led a life of inspired dissolution above the Grand Canal. Turner dissolved the city in the lilac light of the lagoon, Monet tracked the reflections of the canals across the disintegrating facades of ancient palaces and John Singer Sargent painted in the shaded back streets where the traditions of Venetian life still thrived. This lecture is a purely personal tour of 19th century Venice in search of these painters, poets and authors, the strange and often bizarre lives they led in the city, the customs and rituals they found when they arrived and the rich and varied succession of images they created that ultimately transformed the hard city of the Venetian Republic into the romantic legend it is today. John Singer Sargent: Street in Venice 1882. Photo Wikimedia Commons 28March 2024 CHRIS ASLAN How to get down from a Yak - Adventures in Central Asian Nomadic Textiles Houses made from wool that warm in the depths of winter, carpets that tell stories, woven bands that appease ancestors, embroideries that ward off evil, and kilims that store kitchenware, with everything ready to be packed and carried on yak, or camel at a moment’s notice; the little-known nomadic textile cultures of the Kyrgyz, Turkoman and Karakalpak are explored in this lecture, along with the rise and fall of nomadism and where nomadism fits within the modern world. Chris also shares from his own experience of working with nomadic yak herders in the High Pamirs for three years. Yak near Yamdrok lake, Tibet. Photo: Wikimedia Commons 25 April 2024 LUCIA GAHLIN ‘Wonderful things!’ Tutankhamum’s Tomb and Treasures The discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb by Howard Carter in 1922 was arguably the greatest archaeological discovery of the twentieth century. The name of this boy-king conjures up wonderful imagery and mysterious tales of the pharaohs. In this lecture I shall explore this unusual tomb and its iconic treasures. I shall examine the design and decoration of the most famous tomb in the Valley of the Kings. I shall discuss Carter’s discovery of the tomb, and explore what happened to the incredible wealth of funerary goods found inside. I shall survey these fabulous treasures, from Tutankhamun’s golden shrines to his ornate board games. Unbroken Seal on the Third Shrine of Tutankhamun's tomb. Harry Burton (English, 1879–1940) Public domain 23 May 2024 CHRIS GARIBALDI The Architecture of Inigo Jones, John Webb and William Samwell Whilst Inigo Jones (1573–1652) became Surveyor of the Kings Works in 1611, John Webb (1611–1672), his sometime pupil, assistant and natural successor, failed to secure the same formal role. Webb was nevertheless one of the most important and influential architects working in England in the mid- seventeenth century and was responsible for many important royal commissions. Designing part of the palace of Greenwich for Charles II and alterations to the Queen’s House in 1662, he also completed significant alterations at Belvoir Castle, home to the Dukes of Rutland, between 1654 and 1668. During the same period his work influenced that of the gentleman architect William Samwell (1628–1676) who built the palace at Newmarket between 1668 and 1671. Based on recent research, this lecture looks at the relationship between the work of these three architects for their respective royal and aristocratic patrons and places them in the context of pre-Civil War and Restoration architecture more generally, examining their lasting legacy and influence. Belvoir Castle. Photo Tanya Dedyukhina. Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 27 June 2024 ANNE SEBBA The Story of the Cook Sisters and how they used Opera to save lives Ida and Louise Cook were destined never to marry after decimation of the men of their generation in World War One. When Ida became a successful Mills and Boon novelist they used their earnings to indulge their love of opera, travelling all over the world but especially to Salzburg. Familiarity with Austria enabled these two eccentric opera loving sisters to undertake dangerous undercover missions in the 1930s rescuing Jewish musicians and others from the Nazis. This talk will explore the world of Opera in the 1920s and 30s - the clothes, music, celebrities, and the signed photographs coveted by fans. It will also show how Opera transformed the lives not just of these two sisters but of at least 29 families they saved. In 2010 the Government posthumously created the Cook sisters British Heroes of the Holocaust. Click here for the background of the sisters. 22 August 2024 TOBIAS CAPWELL The Scoliotic Knight: Reconstructing the real Richard 111 The discovery of the grave of King Richard III in Leicester raised an army of new and fascinating questions. The severe scoliosis exhibited by the skeleton revealed that the twisted physique of Shakespeare’s ‘Black Legend’ was based in fact. But how could a diminutive person, suffering from a significant spinal condition, have become a skilled practitioner of the knightly fighting arts? How could he have worn armour and fought in three major battles? What would his armour have looked like? How might it have disguised the King’s condition, presenting him as a powerful warrior? In the case of a king whose royal legitimacy was questioned by many people, how were the visual trappings of knightly kingship used to solidify his claim? Here we encounter armour as an expressive art-form, designed to radiate messages, justifications, proof of the wearer’s right to rule as a king- a wielder of divine power on Earth. In 2015 Toby had the unusual honour of serving as one of the two fully armoured horsemen escorting the remains of King Richard III, from the battlefield at Bosworth to their final resting place in Leicester Cathedral. Toby is Curator of Arms and Armour at the Wallace Collection in London and an internationally- acknowledged authority on Medieval and Renaissance weapons. He is the author of numerous books on the subject of arms and armour, including Masterpieces of European Arms and Armour at the Wallace Collection (2011; Apollo Magazine Book of the Year 2012); The Noble Art of the Sword: Fashion and Fencing in Renaissance Europe 1520-1630, ex. cat. (2012); Armour of the English Knight 1400-1450 (2015; Military History Monthly Illustrated Book of the Year 2017); and most recently Arms and Armour of the Medieval Joust (2018). Toby also appears regularly on television, most recently on A Stitch in Time (2018; BBC4); as presenter and armour advisor on Richard III: The New Evidence (2014; C4), and as the writer and presenter of Metalworks: The Knight's Tale (2012; BBC4). Photo: Digital-Designs, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 26 September 2024 CHLOE SAYER The Maya Heritage: Ancient and Modern Maya culture The civilisation of the ancient Maya reached its peak between AD 300-900. Across much of present-day Mexico, Belize, Guatemala and Honduras, dozens of great cities have been located, many still buried in remote parts of the jungle. Maya achievements in art and architecture were matched by a knowledge of maths, astrology, calendrics and hieroglyphic writing. Mural paintings, ceramic figurines and intricately carved stone panels provide an insight into the religious rituals, music, warfare, textiles and courtly life of the Maya. Today some six million Maya carry on many of the traditions of their ancestors. Maya Mural Maya Gallery, INAH, National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico City. Photo: Gary Todd Creative Commons Zero, Public Domain Dedication 24 October 2024 SALLY DORMER Medieval Combs: Disentangling Lockdown Locks Combs survive in abundance from the Middle Ages. The majority, carved from bone or wood, were practical objects used to remove unwelcome tangles and lice, and arrange the hair, but others, fashioned from ivory and ornamented with decoration and intricate narratives, performed more elevated roles. Ivory combs decorated with scenes of courtly love and chivalry were exchanged as gifts by wealthy lovers, to beguile or demonstrate commitment, while those carved with sacred themes, played a part in ceremonial rituals involving high-ranking ecclesiastics and secular rulers. Bishops had their hair combed during their investitures, as did priests before they celebrated a Mass, and an emperor’s locks were combed in the course of his coronation. This lecture will explore why well-groomed hair was desirable in the Middle Ages, consider contemporary images of combs in use, and examine medieval combs from church treasuries and museums, some connected with individuals like St Cuthbert (d. 687), and, paradoxically, Emperor Charles the Bald (d. 877)! Double and single-side composite antler combs decorated with ring and dot motifs, Early Middle Ages, found in on the grounds of the Wawel Castle Hill. Photo: Silar Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 The Start of our membership year 2024/25 28 November 2024 IMOGEN CORRIGAN The Glories of Anglo-Saxon England It seems that many peoples over many centuries have wanted to live in and claim England as their own. Why? For some incoming settlers, England can’t have been the most obvious choice as richer pickings might have been had by heading southwards or eastwards. Here we will see not only who came, but also why. We will look at the many great attractions of England, not just the varied and rich pastures and natural wealth beyond belief today, but also - perhaps surprisingly – unparalleled education, justice and hierarchy: it was a good place to settle upon your heirs.
Web site designed, created and maintained by Janet Groome, Handshake Computer Training.