12th September 2018

Evening Lecture

The Restoration of 78 Derngate: the work of Charles Rennie Mackintosh

Our 2018 / 2019 Lecture programme started on 12th September 2018 with Robert Kendall. Trustee and Chair of The Friends of Derngate presenting an illustrated talk in celebration of 78, Derngate.   Robert outlined just how this building developed through patronage and challenging working relationships between Wenman Bassett-Lowke and Charles Rennie Mackintosh. However, the result is amazing; a small house in Northampton now visited by people from all over the world to see this building with stunning designs both in fabric and furnishings.

We could all see why Robert is so passionate about 78, Derngate and I think he has convinced us we need to visit.


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26th September 2018

Afternoon Lecture

”Fakes, Forgers and Frauds”

On 26th Sept 2018 a return visit of Graham Sutherland delivering his talk ”Fakes, Forgers and Frauds” really confirmed that nothing is new. Graham related how throughout history and mirrored in recent times, we can all be taken in by people who are so convincing in presenting themselves as something they are not. We listened to the amazing story of Horatio William Bottomley a former M.P. who appeared many times in the law courts, representing himself and always with a ‘not guilty verdict’ until the day he was legally represented found guilty and served time. We were encouraged to believe that modern technology would help in safeguarding us from some of these crimes – what do you think?

Horatio William Bottomley

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10th October 2018

Evening Lecture

Upton House – Saving the Art Collection in a Welsh Slate Mine

On 10th October, Michelle Leake and Brenda MacDonague presented an illustrated talk on “N.T. Upton House – Saving the Art Collection in a Welsh Slate Mine”. This was a fascinating talk accompanied by wartime photographs, copies of exchange of letters regarding the planning and preparations put in place to save these art treasures for the nation during WW2 when invasion was feared. At one time it was thought that art treasures would be sent to Canada but this was thought to be too risky which is why they were eventually stored in a Welsh Slate Mine. We learned that many staff also went to ensure that the paintings would not be damaged, building works were carried out in the mines, and security measures employed with techniques of art preservation employed that are still used today. Lord Bearsted was allowed to include some of his paintings in this project, later returning them to Upton House and making them a gift to the nation which we can all see today in the excellent art collection at N.T Upton House.

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24th October 2018

Afternoon Lecture

Tree Planting in Walsall Arboretum

Our members were not disappointed on 24th October when they received a most engaging talk by Tree Wardens: Jackie Cocken and Jo Lester who impressed us all with their enthusiasm for our local park – Walsall Arboretum. As volunteers they have ‘twisted arms ‘ raised awareness, enlisted support and even experienced an emergency situation when a WW1 bomb was unearthed in a tree planting event – all ended safely. The talk ‘ Tree Wardens- Championing Tree Planting in OUR Arboretum’ was very well received – don’t miss them when they make a return visit. Please check with The Visitors Centre in the arboretum for lots of special events that take place.

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14th November 2018

Evening Lecture

“A Trip to Italy” and “A journey down the Rhone”

On Wednesday 14th November, our members were indeed most fortunate in that our speaker David Keith Jones was able to cover an emergency situation and deliver two excellent talks. The first talk “A Trip to Italy”   gave us   stunning vistas of countryside and cities, each enhanced by David’s skills, architectural knowledge and narration – we hung on to every word. Followed by the second talk “A journey down the Rhone” with spectacular photography by David, who as a professional photographer has won may international awards… we could tell. A talk with breathtaking photography delivered by an excellent speaker.   We look forward to his next visit. Find out more about David’s range of talks on his website: www.davidkeithjones.co.uk

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28th November 2018

Afternoon Lecture

“Portugal – Lisbon to Porto”

On 28th November 2018, one of our members John Llewellyn, delivered  a most interesting talk  “Portugal – Lisbon to Porto”.  John, a much travelled enthusiast,  told us about the Pousadas of Portugal, they being architectural and historical buildings which offer excellent and unusual accommodation for travellers.  We saw spectacular scenery  and some beautiful church buildings and learned how, during religious festivals, many pilgrims would journey there. John told us that when he was in Portugal he  wanted specifically to locate and photograph the ‘painted tiles’ of Portugal, to locate and ride on a yellow tram and to enjoy the famous custard tarts – and he did. We saw the evidence in John’s images  and were impressed by the artistic tiles displayed on so many public and private buildings, we saw  the queues of tourists all wanting  a ride on the famous yellow trams and  we now  look forward to  getting some of those custard tarts from our local supermarket. Thank you John.

Lisbon

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12th December 2018

Evening Lecture

‘The Recreation of The Gardens at Hanbury Hall’

On 12th December our members received a most interesting talk from Neil Cook, Garden and Outdoor Manager at N.T. Hanbury Hall. Neil’s talk ‘The Recreation of The Gardens at Hanbury Hall’ was a celebration of the work undertaken there and how source materials such as maps, paintings and inventories, hard work and funding over a period of many years have helped to restore the George London gardens and continue to do so. Neil told us about how changes in garden design were seen as status symbols and often copied to impress – the illustrations certainly impressed us as did the images of the amazing gardens in Holland.

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9th January 2019

Evening Lecture

’Wilful Murder? – The Sinking of the Lusitania ‘

Into the New Year with a return visit by Andrew Lound who on 9th January delivered ’Wilful Murder? – The Sinking of the Lusitania ‘. Andrew always delivers an excellent talk for our members, which is reflected through his research, his enthusiasm and his passionate presentation – he is a great storyteller.

The talk, though tinged with great sadness, gave us an insight into how the horrors of war always affect the innocents and again we question those who made and continue to make such decisions that impact on so many lives – a moving and emotional account.

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13th February 2019

Evening Lecture

The Taj Mahal

On 13th February members received a most interesting and well informed talk from Peter Fitzpatrick on “The Splendours of the Taj Mahal”.  Peter outlined the history, architectural, intricate and highly skilled work that can be seen in this world famous iconic mausoleum and did so by linking it into the India of today.  We listened as the story unfolded from military conquests, great wealth, family feuds, ambitious leaders, and of course …… harems. A word of advice from Peter; if members  are planning to see this for themselves then an early morning  visit is the best time – did he say 3a.m?

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27th February

Afternoon Lecture

You Can’t Abdicate and Eat It’

Our afternoon talk on 27th February 2019 attracted a good number of our members to hear Mary Bodfish deliver her talk ‘You Can’t Abdicate and Eat It’.  This was an account of the ‘relationship’ that developed between Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson. Edward, portrayed almost as a hero and dashing figure, was very popular and well liked in his ‘public life’.  But in his private life, he greatly indulged in doing what he wanted to do – his image and reputation protected by the press at this time, who were not allowed to publish the ‘real’ story. The press in other countries featured photographs and articles about Edward and Wallis.  The royal family, the church and the government were all concerned that a constitutional crisis was looming and must be addressed but Edward, as history relates, abdicated to be with the woman he loved. Mary told us about the financial details and arrangements made to secure and support their future life together.  A most enjoyable talk.

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13th March 2019

Evening Lecture

‘Mary Queen of Scots – The Captive Queen’

On 13th March 2019 David Templeton delivered his talk ‘Mary Queen of Scots – The Captive Queen’ for our members.  I don’t know if anyone else thought, as I did, that the intrigue, passion, plots and escapes were being mirrored in The Houses of Parliament this very day. David had done a great deal of research and was able to give us insights into this story of how Mary was deliberately and, over time, denied so many aspects of her royal status during her enforced period of ‘captivity’ – all in very devious ways in the name of religious and political powers.  A most thought-provoking talk.

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27th March 2019

Afternoon Lecture

The Extraordinary Vesta Tilley

On 27th March 2019 our speaker Ray Sturdy gave us a real ‘rags to riches’ talk on The Extraordinary Vesta Tilley. Vesta was born in Worcester into a very large family.  With little money to spare, she appears to have been very determined from an early age to ‘better not only herself but her family’.  Using her natural talents as an entertainer and seizing opportunities to further them, she quickly became a nation’s favourite and a very astute business woman who was able to achieve huge fees from theatre owners.   Vesta was very popular both as a female artist and male impersonator.  Music, such as ‘The man who broke the bank at Monte Carlo’ and ‘Burlington Bertie’, was specially written for her and recorded on the early 78rpm records. When she decided to retire she, as many do today, gave a farewell concert in the theatres where she had appeared in her early career.  The public adored her.  As always, Ray’s talk was very well researched and illustrated with scenes and comparisons of Worcester today and in Vesta’s time.

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10th April

Evening Lecture

 ‘A Better, More Beautiful World – William and Evelyn de Morgan’

Sarah Hardy, who is the curator – manager for the De Morgan Foundation, gave an excellent talk on William and Evelyn de Morgan.  She spoke with great authority and clarity about their early life and how they got started in ceramics and painting. This included a humorous story of William’s first meeting with William Morris. In 1863 De Morgan had his first real career break when he met Morris.  As Morris had not been very successful with ceramics, De Morgan took over the tile production side of the business and soon began designing his own tiles. He collaborated with William Morris for many years.

We were treated to some beautiful photographs of Evelyn’s paintings.  Sarah explained that, although the paintings may remind us of the pre Raphaelites, Evelyn never fully subscribed to an art movement, instead she used her art to present her socio-political agenda. She painted on themes of women’s suffrage, material greed, death, spiritualism and her deep horror at the onset of the First World War, which she abhorred.

The second part of Sarah’s talk detailed the work of the de Morgan Foundation.  She informed us that Wightwick Manor, at present, hosts the largest display of the Foundation’s collection in the Old Malthouse Gallery. It is certainly worth a visit.

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Margaret Wood

Speaker secretary