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 Saturday 13th January 2023.
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.
|Saturday 13 January 2024||
Professor Christopher Dyer: ’Revealing Warwickshire’s past: the importance of Burton Dassett Southend’. ZOOM presentation which will need to be prebooked. Details will be available late November.
|Tuesday 20 February 2024||
Peter Coulls: ‘Umberslade Baptist Chapel and the Muntz Family’.
|Tuesday 19 March 2024||
Members Evening: Short presentations by individual members or members of member societies lasting 20 minutes. If you are interested in making a presentation, contact the secretary email@example.com by 1st November 2023.
|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 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.
|Saturday 14 January 2023||
"By Plunder these have Suffered": the Warwickshire 'Loss Accounts' and civilian suffering in the First Civil War.
We enjoyed Dr Maureen Harris's knowledgeable talk on this subject. She updated us on findings from the project, which saw the accounts (at Warwickshire County Record Office) transcribed by volunteers.
|Saturday 3 December 2022||
Christmas Outing: Baddesley Clinton Moated Manor House 1 pm to 4 pm.
Over 30 of us enjoyed exploring the moated house of Baddesley Clinton, home to the Ferrers Family for over 500 years. The house was a sanctuary not only for the Ferrers family but also for persecuted Catholics who were hidden from priest hunters in its secret hiding places during the 1590s. The outing began with a short talk (outside) given by Dr Nat Alcock covering his research into Baddesley Clinton House to set the scene. Members were then free to explore the house and gardens for themselves, facilitated by the Baddesley Clinton volunteers. We enjoyed spotting the priest holes and were warmly welcomed by the National Trust staff. The house was beautifully decorated for Christmas.
|Tuesday 15 November 2022||
Changing Health Provision in 19th Century Warwickshire
Dr John Wilmot considered developments in small towns and rural areas, with a focus on Stratford-upon-Avon and Southam, at this interesting talk.
|Tuesday 18 October 2022||
Long Compton in World War Two.
We were pleased to welcome Bill Cook, long standing resident of Long Compton, to our first face to face meeting in two years. Bill gave a lively talk about the village's wartime experiences and about post-war social change. A fuller report on the talk can be found by clicking here.
A film was also highly recommended by Bill, made in 1946, and can be accessed by the link below.
|Wednesday 7 September 2022||
Middleton Hall, Tamworth, 11 am to 4 pm: A smaller group of 17 members enjoyed a morning tour Middleton Hall followed by members' choice of packed lunch or lunch in the cafe, with access to the hall and gardens for the rest of the day.
We were entertained by Middleton Hall’s expert volunteer tour guides as they led us on a journey through the Hall’s fascinating history which encompasses 900 years of exploration, discoveries and quirky characters. The oldest building on site dates back to 1285 and is believed to be the oldest domestic building in North Warwickshire. Those who couldn't access the first floor of the building were accommodated with a ground floor tour.
|Saturday 2 July 2022||
Compton Verney Archaeology, 2 pm to approximately 4.30 pm
40 of us joined Hilary Calow, Compton Verney Archaeology Volunteer, as she brought Compton Verney’s archaeological past to life. Hilary explained how evidence of archaeological activity, including Roman, Anglo Saxon and medieval settlements, has gradually been coming to light. We had the chance to visit Capability Brown’s Georgian Chapel and we learnt how Compton Verney was turned into an experimental station for smoke screen camouflage during World War Two. We enjoyed Hilary's guided tour of the grounds, accompanied by visual aids and the chance to handle archaeological finds, despite the weather. We escaped inside for a very welcome and delicious cream tea. This was meant to be outside but the weather prevented this and the Compton Verney staff were very good at accommodating us indoors as short notice.
|Thursday 26 May 2022||
Trip to Birmingham Guinea Gardens and Birmingham Botanical Gardens. The group enjoyed visiting the Edgbaston Guinea Gardens, a collection of Victorian gardens created for the benefit of the shopkeepers and workers from the Jewellery Quarter, which have existed for over a century. We learnt about the origins of the gardens with guide and allotmenteer Carol Dealey and explored this 'secret gem' for ourselves, enjoying Carol's oral histories, particularly those from the Second World War, along the way.
After lunch at the nearby Botanical Gardens we took a guided tour of Birmingham Botanical Gardens, which were founded in 1829, with Head Gardener, Wayne. The Gardens were designed by J.C. Loudon, a Scotsman who was a leading garden planner, horticultural journalist and publisher. Wayne really brought the different seasons of the gardens to life for us and many of us will be returning to enjoy the gardens at a different time of year.
|Saturday 7 May 2022||
Edgehill Battlefield Walk, 37 people, including many from our associate history societies, enjoyed a morning outing followed by optional lunch. The 3 hour outing was led by Martin Russell, the Vice President of Shipston and District Local History Society. Martin took us on a tour of the Edgehill Battlefield. The Battle of Edgehill, which took place on 23rd October 1642, was the first pitched battle of the English Civil War and took place in fields between the villages of Kineton and Radway between the Royalists, gathered on the Edge Hill escarpment, against Essex’s parliamentary forces gathered in the fields below.
By first using the spectactular scenery seen from the Castle Pub at Edgehill, Martin brought the battle to life with detailed, but always interesting, information about the military history of this battle and the strategies employed by the two sides. Assisted by maps and drawings, Martin plotted the course of the battle for us and we went on to explore by car and on foot some of the key areas in the battle, including Red Lane, Kineton and Radway.
This outing was very popular and is being repeated on Saturday 16th July to give those who missed it the first time a chance to attend.
|Tuesday 26 April 2022||
Annual General Meeting. Following our AGM, Maria Tauber of Warwick University gave a talk on Sir Roger Newdigate of Arbury.
This talk looked at his media engagement and how different types of oral, manuscript and print media helped shape his image and role as MP.
Image is of Sir Roger Newdigate in the LIbrary at Arbury, Arthur Devis, public domain
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