What’s On

The society offers programmes of informal morning talks, evening lectures and summer group visits. Visits are always made by coach. Non-members are very welcome to attend lectures and talks and the visits on payment of a small additional charge. Evening lecture March 2014

2018 EVENING LECTURES AND MORNING TALKS, Tuesdays in the Grove Building

A donation of £3 asked of non-members for evening lectures.

October 9: Stephen Hyde Casson, Curate of Mere and Bruton by Justin Bailey
November 13: Alberto Bioletti, Soldier of Napoleon and Master Clockmaker of Wincanton by John Baxter
December 11: 55 Years Fighting Rust by Ian Dean


October 16: Hadrian’s Wall by Mark Corney
November 6: Stonehenge by Julian Richards
December 4: The Death of Gordon of Khartoum by David Baker



Chatsworth dining room
Chatsworth group
<< >>

Tuesday 19 June, Mottisfont Abbey and Gardens (National Trust)

Mottisfont Abbey sits on the river Test. From humble beginnings as a 13th Century priory to a grand country retreat for London’s artistic elite, Mottisfont has a rich and varied past.

Our visit will begin with a 50 minute guided tour on “The Rise and Fall of Mottisfont Priory,” after which you will be free to explore the house and grounds. The magnificent and pungent rose gardens will hopefully be at their best when we visit. The wonderful grounds complement the house itself. There are areas of wooded shade, a walk along the River Test and areas of lawn where you may picnic. There are two places serving food: the Old
Kitchen on the ground floor of the house serving full lunches and refreshments and the Coach House Café in the stables serving lighter lunches and snacks. Both have indoor and outdoor seating.

We will leave Salisbury Street Car Park at 9.30am and return by around 6pm.

Cost: MHS Members £15, non-members £18 per person. Includes coach and tip.


Wednesday 18 July, Chavenage House and Tetbury

Before visiting Chavenage House we will stop in Tetbury where there are plenty of options for food. You will have time for lunch or a snack and to meander down the medieval cobbled Chipping Steps where the ‘Mop Fairs’ were held. The Heritage Centre is in the original Court House and contains a Police Museum with free entry.

After lunch we will visit Chavenage House, a Grade I listed building, which is a beautiful Elizabethan house of mellow Cotswold stone built in 1576 by Edward Stephens. Only two
families have owned it, and we will be shown round by one of the current owners. It has been used as a location for TV and film productions eg as Trenwith House in’ Poldark’. Interesting features include a great hall with stained glass windows, tapestry rooms, the Oak Room which has elaborate 1590 panelling. An Edwardian wing features a sprungfloored ballroom. Close to the house is the family chapel which is included in the Grade I listing.

We will be served a cream tea before leaving.

We will leave Salisbury Street Car Park at 9am and return by 6pm.

Cost: MHS Members £27, non-members £30 per person.
Includes coach and tip, tour and cream tea.

Tuesday 4 September, Old Sarum (Boscombe Down Aviation Collection) and Amesbury History Centre

The Boscombe Down Aviation Collection (BDAC) is located on Old Sarum Airfield. The Collection tells the history of Boscombe Down and explains the major role it has played in the history of flight and flight test. Military flying began in 1917 and experimental flying operations began in 1940 continuing today at the forefront as Western Europe’s only dedicated military flight test centre.

On arrival we will be given tea or coffee while we have a 30 minute introduction. We will then be able to view the collection and sit in many of the cockpits. During lunch time we can view the airfield’s operations while having a snack or hot meal at Old Sarum airfield’s excellent Skies Café. There are plenty of picnic tables for those who prefer to bring their own food. You may want to look round the hangers and note the Belfast trusses, a system used for fast construction in 1917 and one of the few
remaining examples.

After lunch we will visit the fine old Abbey church of St Mary and St Melor the history of which begins in 979. After time to look round the church we have a short walk to the Amesbury History Centre for tea and biscuits and a brief introduction to their small but interesting collection.

We will leave Salisbury Street Car Park at 9.30 am and return around 4.30pm.

Cost: MHS Members £22 Non-members £25
Includes coach and tip, entrances and tea/coffee at both sites.



7th October 2014 – Archive Fever: Modern Research, by The Hon Victoria Glendinning CBE critic, broadcaster and novelist talking on research methods

14th October 2014: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”: Henry, Alda and Harry’s Years at Stourhead’, by Janet Way

4th November 2014: Shaftesbury: King Alfred’s Legacy, by Rob Curtis, a South West Tourism blue badge guide

18th November 2014: Occupational Health Hazards, post industrial revolution: chimney sweeps to deep sea divers, by Rose Cox

2nd December 2014: The First World War: Tunnelling and Mine Warfare, by Phillip Robinson, adviser on films and documentaries

6th January 2015: A Very Fair Castle -The Changing Face of Corfe Castle and its Role within its Landscape, by Judith Teasdale, landscape architect

20th January 2015: A History of Bruton School for Girls, by John Burrough

3rd February 2015: Rural Temperance 1880-1908, by Canon Andrew Evans. A case study on Mere Society

17th February 2015: Paradise Lost: Stourhead Gardens’ Lost Features, by Julia Mottershaw

3rd March 2015: Annual General Meeting followed by A Blast from the Past, by Jonathan Weeks. Listen to woodwind instruments from the middle ages

17th March 2015: Fossils, Rocks and Dinosaurs: – local content, Somerset coal fields, Lyme Regis and Mary Anning, by Gerry Cook

6th October 2015: History and Development of Variations; a musical Adventure by Jill Jenkins

13th October 2015: Sheep to Ships to North Sea Oil Rigs – Occupational Health in the 20th Century by Rose Cox

3rd November 2015: The Last Russian Countess of Pembroke by Ros Liddington (Archivist, Wilton House)

17th November 2015: The Society’s Archive: Open for Business by Jenny Wilding

1st December 2015: The Brigade of Gurkhas 1815 – 2015 – 200 Years of Service to the Crown by Johnny Fenn

12th January 2016: Ancient Jordan and Petra: A Personal View by Tony Grinyer

2nd February 2016: A Fresh Look at the Silk Industry in Mere by Julia Mottershaw

1st March 2016: SS Great Britain – From Launch to Relaunch by Ian Caskie

15th March 2016: Conservation – the Agents of Decay by the Hannah Severn

5th April 2016: Constable – His Visits to Gillingham by Sam Woodcock

3rd May 2016: Mata Hari – Eye of the Day; The Story of the Beautiful and Clever Double Agent by Kathy McNally

4th October 2016: Verwood industry and life by Pam Reeks
11th October 2016: Mid 19th Century Charity Organisations in Mere by Michael Plaxton

1st November 2016: Mysterious life of Walter Henry: from workhouse to transatlantic troopships in World War 1 by Howard Nichols

15th November 2016: In search of Francis Faugoin, Steward for Henry the Magnificent at Stourhead by Julia Mottershaw

6th December 2016: Inner sanctums by Rob Curtis

17th January 2017: ‘Royal Naval Hovercraft in the Falkland Islands 50 years ago’ by Vernon Phillips

7th February 2017: ‘How the 1940 Invasion of Belgium changed my Life’ by Monique Turnbull

21st February 2017: ‘Shackleton’s 1914 Expedition to the South Pole’ by Frank Marshall

7th March 2017: ‘Life and Times of the Iconic Vulcan Bomber’ by Tony Davies

21st March 2017: ‘Will Shakespeare’s London – danger, vanity and vice’ by Gerry Cook

4th April 2017: ‘The Yetties Group’s tours across Europe, Far East and Africa’ by Bonnie Sartin

25th April 2017: ‘Jade, Amber and Gold, three stories from pre-history’ by Hilary Griffiths

3rd October 2017: ‘The history of Desert Island Discs’ by Ralph Jerram

10th October 2017: Popham: a 16th century lawyer who made good! by James Bradnock

7th November 2017: Peace without victory: could the Great War have been ended in 1917? by Peter Landymore

14th November 2017: Paul Maze, a Frenchman in khaki, the last impressionist by Philip Schofield

12th December 2017: Kings of Music by Tom Weare

5th December 2017: Dartmoor Mindscapes by Peter Knight

9th January 2018: Dorset Heroines by David Beaton

20th February 2018: Emergency Planning and Practical Salvage in Historic Houses by Hannah Severn

6th March 2018: The Wessex Turncoat by Michael Wills

13th March 2018: Stand Up and Be Counted – The Story of the Census by Daphne Tighe

3rd April 2018: Out of my Attic – Boy’s Toys of the 20th Century by Michael Weale

17th April 2018: Sugar to Camels by Ros Liddington – an illustrated talk about the sugar trade



21st May 2014: Wareham and Moreton
10th June 2014: Edmondsham House and Gardens
10th July 2014: Portsmouth Historic Dockyard
7/8th September 2014: Hanbury Hall and gardens (NT) & Chatsworth House

14th May 2015: Bath: Theatre Royal and the American Museum
16th June 2015: Beaulieu Palace House, Abbey and National Motor Museum
16th July 2015: Breamore House and Gardens
9th September 2015: Waddesdon Manor

17th May 2016: John Boyd Textiles and Castle Cary
9th June 2016: Dunster Castle and village
6th July 2016: Seaton Tramway and Jurassic Visitor Centre
6th September 2016: Bletchley Park

15th May 2017: ss Great Britain, Bristol
14th June 2017: Tyntesfield
13th July 2017: Swindon: Museum of the Great Western Railway
5th September 2017: Devizes: Wadworth Brewery and Wiltshire Museum
7th November 2017: Warminster: Dents Glove Museum

17th May 2018: Oxford and the Ashmolean Museum