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. Here is the programme for winter/spring 2017:Evening lecture March 2014


Our lectures and talks begin again in the autumn. Meanwhile, we are enjoying:


Wednesday 14 June: Tyntesfield. This will be the Society’s third visit to Tyntesfield, one of the most important Victorian houses in the National Trust’s collection. The house was not built as a bold and extravagant statement of wealth, power or politics, but to serve as a family home. Once hidden and inaccessible, the ordinary and extraordinary lives and possessions of four generations of the Gibbs family are ready for discovery, many more of which have been sorted since our last visit. Booking deadline 31 May. Bookings open to non-members from 2 May. Click here for more details, prices and booking form.

Thursday 13 July: Swindon: Museum of the Great Western Railway.
The museum is situated in the heart of what was once one of the largest railway engineering complexes in the world. Swindon Railway Works opened in January 1843 as a repair and maintenance facility for the new Great Western Railway. By 1900 the works had expanded dramatically and employed over 12,000 people. Booking deadline 27 June. Bookings open to non-members from 23 May. Click here for more details, prices and booking form.

Tuesday 5 September:Devizes: Wadworth Brewery and Wiltshire Museum. After climbing several short staircases, we will be guided through the traditional Victorian Tower Brewery, following the gravitational process down through each of the four floors. The next stop will be the 21st Century Copper House to see how technology has developed over time. We will also visit the on-site Sign Studio to see Wadworth’s unique hand-painted pub signs; this is where they still paint all of their 250 signs in the traditional way. Afterwards we will visit the stables, home to the working Shire Horses, then end with a sampling session. Booking deadline 25 August. Bookings open to non-members from 3 July. Click here for more details, prices and booking form.


Chatsworth dining room
Chatsworth group
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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


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