WLHS has a new Programme Secretary (Lectures).
Following Jim Ranahan's successful tenure of this post, we are pleased to announce that we have a new Programmes Secretary (Lectures). Dr Ruth Barbour will be building on her existing experience as our very capable secretary to plan our programme of evening lectures into the 2023/24 season. We are excited to sample her new programme, further details of which can be found below, together with information on when and where we meet.
WLHS runs live lectures at the Primary School Hall at Aylesford School. See our programme below for dates.
The hall opens at 7 pm and meetings start at 7.30 pm, apart from April 2024, when we start the AGM at 7.15 pm. We need to vacate before 9 pm.
We also provide an additional lecture in January - online - at 2 pm on a Saturday afternoon in January
Our lectures run between October and April. In the Summer we organise outings instead.
Venue for In-Person Meetings
*Aylesford School Primary Hall, Tapping Way, Warwick, CV34 6XR – for evening meetings.
Remember, if you are a member of one of our affiliated societies, you can enjoy our talks for free!
Summer Outings Outings will go ahead whatever the weather unless weather conditions make the outing unsafe. Please book with this in mind and dress appropriately.
|Tuesday 19 March 2024
Robert Howe - talking about Harvey Bloom antiquarian author and rector of Whitchurch
Colin Clay – following on from our recent archaeological interest on the use of LIDAR in investigating landscape using the large iron age fort at Wappenbury as an example.
|Tuesday 16 April 2024
Society AGM commencing at 7.15 pm followed at approximately 7.30 pm by Louise Essex ‘Using the Local Studies Department at Nuneaton Library for Research
|Saturday 29 June 2024
Outing to St Peter's Church and the North Warwickshire Heritage Centre, Mancetter. Full details and cost tbc. Check back here for a booking form in due course.
|Saturday 6 July 2024
Outing to Holy Trinity Church, Sutton Coldfield. Full details and cost tbc. Check back here for a booking form in due course.
|Saturday 20 July 2024
Outing to Harbury Village, with Tours of Harbury Village and Heritage Centre given by Harbury Heritage Group. Full details and cost tbc. Check back here for a booking form in due course.
|Saturday 21 September 2024
Burton Dassett Church and surrounding area, an archaeological talk given by Dr Stephen Wass. Full details and cost tbc. Check back here for a booking form in due course.
|Saturday 30 November 2024
Lord Leycester Hospital, Warwick. Full details and cost tbc. Check back here for a booking form in due course.
|Saturday 13 January 2024
Over 60 people attended Christopher Dyer's online talk on ’Revealing Warwickshire’s past: the importance of Burton Dassett Southend’. This excavation, carried out in 1986, revealed a thriving medieval market village. It is the most detailed examination of such a settlement in Warwickshire. This very important site is the subject of a major new book.
|Saturday 25 November 2023
1 pm to 4 pm. St Mary's Guildhall and Coventry Cathedral.
Nearly 50 of us enjoyed an afternoon visiting these 2 iconic sites in Coventry.
St Mary’s Guildhall has acted as the centre of power in England during the War of the Roses, housed the crown jewels, been the prison of Mary Queen of Scots and hosted famous literary figures, such as George Eliot. Visitors can also see the newly unveiled medieval kitchen, one of the best preserved in the country uncovered for the first time in 100 years. In the stunning Great Hall, the famous Coventry Tapestry still hangs in its original spot after 500 years. Follow the threads of the medieval wool trade, which made Coventry an important centre of commerce and power.
Coventry Cathedral: The original Cathedral of St Michael was built between the late 14th and 15th centuries and was destroyed in the 1940 blitz on Coventry. Our tour will take in the ancient ruins before moving to the iconic new Cathedral, designed by Basil Spence in the 1960s. The interior is notable for its huge tapestry of Christ, designed by Graham Sutherland, the emotive sculpture of the Mater Dolorosa by John Bridgeman in the East end, and the Baptistry window designed by John Piper.
We also enjoyed a cream tea, at St Mary’s Guildhall.
|Tuesday 21 November 2023
Andrew Lound: ‘Vulcan’s Temple: The Story of Soho Foundry.’ This entertaining talk focused on Boulton and Watt’s factory at Soho, Birmingham, which was one of the key sites in the development of the Industrial Revolution.
|Tuesday 17 October 2023
Around 30 of us enjoyed Maggie Wood's talk: 'Mr Gayden of Brailes & Other Stories - Adventures in Local History Research'.
Maggie's talk focused on a collection of twenty 19th century men’s smocks held at the Museum. Says Maggie: “Most came into the museum in the 1960s with limited snippets of information – for example
‘…said to have belonged to a cowman from Whitnash, gored to death by a bull.’ However, using a variety of sources, many now digitised and available on-line, it’s been possible to track down some of the smock wearers, and to build fascinating narratives for local lives long forgotten – while meeting some surprises along the way.”
Maggie was Keeper of Social History for the Warwickshire Museum Service from 1988 to 2012. Her last project there was to raise money for, and then oversee the conservation of, the Sheldon Tapestry Map of Warwickshire – a unique Elizabethan textile.
|Wednesday 13 September 2023
Nearly 70 of us enjoyed a tour of St Mary’s Church, Warwick, with church historian and WLHS member Tim Clark, across 2 different days.
Founded before the Norman Conquest, St Mary’s Church is the premier parish church in Warwick. It was rebuilt in 1150 and saw extensive refurbishment in the 15th Century when the famous Beauchamp Chapel was built under the patronage of the Earls of Warwick, and then again following the Fire of Warwick in 1694.
Our tour was led by Tim Clark, volunteer church historian and WLHS member and author of Faire and goodly built: an incomplete history of St Mary’s Warwick. Tim guided us through a history of this magnificent church and took us through its relationship with the earls of Warwick, the town and the townspeople. We also enjoyed seeing St Mary’s famous late medieval stained glass, 15th century sculptures, a 12th century crypt and the Dudley tombs.
The tours were followed by a cream tea at the nearby Apple Tree Tea Rooms (included in the price), which provided a lovely end to the afternoon and a chance to socialise.
|Saturday 8 July 2023
Sutton Park, Sutton Coldfield
A small group of members of Warwickshire Local History Society, its affiliates and their guests gathered for a walk exploring some of this large park (extending over 2000 acres, mainly forest and heathland). Large areas had formed a royal deer park, while the earls of Warwick were later mediaeval owners, and from 1528 the park was the property of the townspeople of Sutton Coldfield.
Our guide was the distinguished Birmingham archaeologist, Dr Mike Hodder. Over two hours, we walked through sections of ancient woodland, where the predominant species, in an unusual feature, was holly. Mike demonstrated the remnants of dykes and ditches used to restrict the movements of both fallow deer and livestock. Other landscape features reflected the highly organised mediaeval hunts, when beaters would drive numbers of deer into predetermined lanes, to be brought down by groups of archers assembled on earthen banks. Nearer the park boundaries were traces of racecourses and golf links, appearing from the late nineteenth century as town dwellers increasingly used the space for recreation. Other users had included the military, who had established camps in both world wars. Today local people enjoying various outdoor activities are the principal visitors, although some areas are still used for grazing by cattle and Exmoor ponies.
Dr Mike Hodder is an Honorary Lecturer in Archaeology at the University of Birmingham and President of the Friends of Sutton Park Association. He is also a WLHS member. He has been researching Sutton Park’s archaeology for many years, and his book The Archaeology of Sutton Park was published in 2013 and reprinted in 2020.
|Wednesday 21 June 2023
Nearly 30 of us enjoyed our tour given by WLHS member and experienced Stoneleigh Abbey guide, Sheila Woolf, as we explored the majestic house and grounds of Stoneleigh Abbey, Stoneleigh. Due to popular demand, a similar number visited again on 5th July. On both occasions we were fortunate enough to be led by Stoneleigh Abbey tour guide and WLHS member, Sheila Woolf.
With humble beginnings as a Cistercian Monastic house in 1154, Stoneleigh Abbey was converted at the dissolution into a comfortable family home. One of the seats of the Leigh Family, Stoneleigh has played host to several people of note, including King Charles I, Queen Victoria and Novelist Jane Austen. The West Wing was designed by the famous architect Francis Smith of Warwick in the Baroque Style.
Our guided tour of the house covered the broad history of Stoneleigh Abbey from its beginnings as a Monastic House in 1154, to modern day, perfect for those interested in a bit of information on the Leigh Family, and the construction of the house. We learnt about the Leigh Family and their famed guests, their connections with the local community and how the abbey progressed from a dissolved monastery to a fine stately home.
Our tour was followed by lovely tea and cake in the Vaulted Hall on both occasions.
|Saturday 13 May 2023
Nearly 40 of us joined Dr Stephen Wass as he took us on an exploration of the park at Farnborough Hall and surrounding countryside and village. The park at Farnborough Hall contains some of the most remarkable garden features of the eighteenth century. The walk examined the history of the site from earliest times and took in excavations on the site of the medieval manor and village, the development of the park in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and the extraordinary waterworks based on the great oval pool from the Georgian period. Also featured in the walk was the site of the previously undiscovered eighteenth century ‘amphitheatre’. The story was brought right up to date with an account of recent repairs and renovations. We then enjoyed a delicious tea at the Village Hall. The weather was kind to us and it was a very enjoyable afternoon.
|Tuesday 18 April 2023
Our well attended AGM was followed by ‘The World Turned Upside Down. Radical ideas and movements in the English Revolution’, given by Professor Bernard Capp, which was very entertaining and well received.
|Tuesday 21 March 2023
Over 40 of us enjoyed the talk on "Farnborough Hall Park", by Dr Stephen Wass, who will also be our guide for the Society's visit to Farnborough Hall in May 2023. This talk complemented the outing to Farnborough Hall Park led by Stephen later this year.
The park at Farnborough Hall contains some of the most remarkable garden features of the eighteenth century. The talk examined the history of the site from earliest times and included excavations on the site of the medieval manor and village, the development of the park in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and the extraordinary waterworks based on the great oval pool from the Georgian period. Also featured in the talk was the site of the previously undiscovered eighteenth century ‘amphitheatre’. The story was brought right up to date with an account of recent repairs and renovations.
|Tuesday 21 February 2023
"Stratford in 50 buildings" by WLHS Vice Chair and local historian Dr Robert Bearman.
In a change to the published talk by Christine Hodgetts, which she was unfortunately able to give due to illness, Dr Robert Bearman gave an entertaining talk on the subject of his book, Stratford in 50 Buildings. Attendees were treated to a pictorial history of Stratford through its buildings, arranged chronologically, and learnt how building changed after the four fires that ravaged Stratford between the 1590s and 1640s. Buildings and other structures covered in the presentation included the iconic Guildhall, Clopton Bridge and the White Swan Hotel. We hope that Christine will be able to give her talk about the gardeners at Warwick Castle at a later date.
|Tuesday 20 February 2024
Peter Coulls: ‘Umberslade Baptist Chapel and the Muntz Family’.
Hear the story of a rarity a non-conformist estate chapel and the estate owners, 18th century immigrants to Birmingham from Bohemia. They are remembered chiefly for the eponymous metal alloy, Muntz Metal and perhaps their connection to the Cutty Sark.
The winter lectures are free to WLHS members and members of affiliated Local History Societies; we charge £3.00 for non-members - refundable on the night when joining the Society!
For a list of other societies' lectures and events, see our OTHER EVENTS page.
Edgehill Battlefield Walk
St John the Baptist, Lea Marston
The interior of the Guild Hall, Henley in Arden.
The Windmill at Napton on the Hill
Bagot's Castle, Baginton