Below is our outline programme of presentations. Extra dates may be added for outings and additional meetings and full details should be available early in February 2020 when programme cards will be sent to our members. Unless otherwise indicated, all evening meetings are held in the Mayoralty Room, Tiverton Town Hall, where a lift is available. The door will open by 7 pm and the meeting will start at 7.30 pm. Non-members are welcome on payment of a small fee and refreshments are provided.
Tuesday, March 17th Ewan Woodley – ‘Climate Change: Environmental Risks and our Everyday Lives’
‘This talk will explore why it is so challenging to engage people with climate change as an issue and why we need to move beyond science alone in understanding and tackling such environmental threats’. Dr Woodley, Senior Lecturer in Geography at Exeter University, has, with Dr Stewart Barr, worked with local community groups in Dulverton, Crediton and along the Exe Estuary, identifying and discussing the causes and risks of extreme weather events, as well as the resultant problems, particularly severe flooding; and encouraging people to show greater resilience to future events.
Tuesday, April 21st Annabel Venning – ‘To War with the Walkers’
‘The miraculous story of the Walkers, six siblings who survived Blitz, battle and internment and whose incredible experiences tell a new social history of WW2, told by historian and Walker descendant Annabel Venning’. ‘The Walkers’, children of General Walter Walker, lived in Belmont Road, Tiverton. The acclaimed book was a Daily Mail Book of the Year 2019 and a Sunday Telegraph Christmas Book of the Year 2019′. ‘An extraordinary, compelling picture of a family entwined in the Second World War’ (James Holland). The paperback edition is due in the summer.
Tuesday, May 12th Penny Mills and Philip Bratby (CPRE) – ‘The Destruction of Devon’
“Those of us who value Devon’s beautiful countryside and green spaces look on in horror at the Government’s urgent push to build more, better, faster. More houses are needed, but nowhere near as many as the Government claims, and they need to be the right kind of homes at prices local people can afford. Balancing local development and a vibrant economy with a tranquil and beautiful environment is doubly important in a county that’s so dependent on income from tourism’. (Penny Mills). Penny is the Devon Director, and Dr Philip Bratby is the Chief Planning Officer, for CPRE Devon.
Tuesday, June 9th Lizzie Mee – ‘Telling our Stories, Finding our Roots in Tiverton’
Following the award of a Heritage Lottery Grant Lizzie has, since last summer, been exploring aspects of Tiverton’s multicultural history on behalf of Devon Development Education . Who came here? Who lived here? Where did they come from? ‘This will be a talk about the hidden history we’ve uncovered during the project and will include something about John Gabriel Stedman, Code talkers in WW2 and the influx of European Voluntary Workers after the war’.
Tuesday, September 15th Alan Rosevear – ‘Travel in Devon before the Railways’
This talk explores the evidence for how people travelled by road up until the beginning of the railway era. Examples will be used to illustrate the evolution of passenger transport and its relationship to improvements in roads and social changes over the 18th and early 19th centuries. Alan has a lifetime’s interest in the social and economic history of road transport. He studied the turnpike roads of the Thames Valley and was a founder member of The Milestone Society. He is currently involved in a research project digitally mapping England’s roads since 1680.
Tuesday, October 6th John Allan – ‘Studying the Medieval Glass of Exeter Cathedral’
We welcome a return visit by John Allan. Exeter Cathedral preserves excellent examples of several different styles of medieval glass, including original windows of the early 14th century, and diverse examples of 15th century glass. John, the Exeter Cathedral Archaeologist, has been closely involved in the extensive conservation work on the Great East Window, where the largest collection of medieval glass in Devon, and the earliest in England by a known glazier, can be seen. The lecture will show the results of a new survey of the windows, changing some of the interpretations of previous generations.
Tuesday, November 3rd Ian Mortimer – ‘Regency England’
Dr Mortimer has written biographies of Roger Mortimer, Edward III, and Henry IV as well as ‘1415, a Year in the Life of Henry V’, and he has also written a successful series of historical novels. He is probably most widely known for his Time Traveller’s Guides, starting with the acclaimed ‘The Time Traveller’s Guide to Medieval England’. ‘The Time Traveller’s Guide to Elizabethan England’ also became a BBC television series, presented by the author, and in his talk he will be looking at the background to ‘The Time Traveller’s Guide to Regency England’, which is due to be published in Autumn 2020.
Tuesday, November 17th Annual General Meeting followed by:
Martin Horrell – ‘A Miscellany of Little Known Facts about Churches’
Following his fascinating presentation on ‘Medieval Rood Screens’ in 2018 a welcome return by Martin Horrell, an enthusiastic amateur researcher and popular speaker on the history of churches and the meaning of their features. In his illustrated talk he will mention such things as Ogham Script, Apotropaic Symbols and Sheila-na-gigs as well as Hunkey Punks, all of which can be seen in churches in Devon or Cornwall.
Tuesday, March 19th Irene Andrews – ‘Introduction to the Devon Heritage Centre’.
Based at the Devon Heritage Centre, Devon Archives and Local Studies holds a large and fascinating collection of records and published works relating to Devon’s rich and varied past. Irene is the Devon Heritage and Local Studies Manager.
Tuesday, April 9th Des Atkinson – ‘Canonsleigh Abbey – A Thriving Devon Nunnery?’
The evocative listed ruins of the 11th century Augustinian Priory lie near the Grand Western Canal. Des is based at the University of Exeter and his recent researches have cast much new light on the history of these fascinating buildings.
Tuesday, May 14 Mike Patrick – ‘The Canal that Never Reached the Sea’.
Mike, former Senior Lecturer at the University of Exeter, makes a welcome return, and he will look at the history of the Grand Western Canal, which was originally intended to link Taunton to Topsham, but was never completed.
Tuesday, June 11th Mike Sampson – ‘R.D.Blackmore and Lorna Doone’
In 2019 the 150th anniversary of the first publication of the famous novel Lorna Doone, which is partially set at Blundell’s School, is being celebrated in Exmoor National Park where the bulk of the action takes place. Mike, always a welcome speaker at our meetings, will trace the background of the story and talk about the author.
Wednesday, June 12th Visit to Ugbrooke House and Gardens, Chudleigh, The Grade 1 house, restored in the 17th and 18th centuries, is the ancestral home of the Clifford family.
Friday, September 13th Alice Thomson – ‘Politics and the Countryside’
Alice, a journalist and author, is well-known for her weekly column in The Times. She has also written for the Daily Telegraph, Vogue and The Spectator and she has appeared on Question Time and Newsnight. In 2014, jointly with colleagues from The Times, she was Press Gazette Political Journalist of the Year. Alice is a member of the Policy Committee of CPRE.
September 13th – 22nd. Heritage Open Days .Details will be announced later.
Wednesday, September 25th. Visit to Priesthall and St Mary’s Church, Kentisbeare. The Grade II* Priesthall, dating back to the 15th century, has many fascinating original features, and it was the mediaeval rectory. The outstanding Grade 1 church has a fine screen and gallery and interesting monuments.
Tuesday, October 8th John Doble – ‘From Africa to Everest and Tibet’.
A former army officer and diplomat, John Doble was British High Commissioner in Swaziland when he sponsored Subusiso Vilane, the first black African to climb Everest. John is a traveller and mountaineer who continues to visit the Himalayas and Africa regularly, actively supporting many charities.
Tuesday, October 29th Bart Wielenga – ‘Reflections of a Head’.
Bart became Head of Blundell’s School in September 2018, having previously been Second Master. He has been described as ‘a relentless optimist who has made a significant contribution to the growth and reputation of the school’.
Tuesday, November 19th Annual General Meeting followed by:
David Pugsley –‘When the judge shot the doctor: the fatal duel on Haldon, May 1833’.
As members have previously discovered David, a Professor of Law, specialises in exciting reconstructions of celebrated 19th century West Country court cases, and he will treat us to another dramatic example.
Unless otherwise indicated, all meetings begin at 7.30 pm in the Mayoralty Room at Tiverton Town Hall where a lift is available. Timings and details for visits will be provided separately
Tuesday, March 13th ‘From quarries and mines to airports and solar farms – how have Devon’s economic needs influenced landscape?’ – Phil Norrey
Phil has been Chief Executive of Devon County Council since 2006. He gained a First Class Honours Degree in History at Bristol University, where he also completed a PhD in Seventeenth Century Political and Administrative History. He is an Honorary Fellow of the University of Exeter.
Tuesday, April 10th ‘ Mediaeval Rood Screens , their Rise and Fall’ – Martin Horrell
‘Martin has devoted much time and energy in recording these examples of mediaeval craftsmanship and his lecture was a delight!’ (Devonshire Association).
Martin is an expert on the subject as well as in church design and craftsmanship.
Tuesday, April 24th Guided tour of the house and gardens at Ashley Court, Tiverton. 2 – 4 pm.
Tuesday, May 15th ‘631 Miles of History on the South West Coastal Path’ – David Harvey
David, for charity, walked all 631 miles of the spectacular coastal footpath in 42 consecutive days.
Tuesday, June 12th ‘What Price Rain’ – Nick Groom
Author and broadcaster, Nick Groom is President of Devon Campaign to Protect Rural England and Professor of English Literature at the University of Exeter. He will be speaking on the environment, conservation, the weather, and economics in the countryside.
Tuesday, July 3rd ‘The Ancient Houses of Exeter’
Guided walk with John Allan 1.30 – 3.30 p.m.
A follow-up to last May’s very popular talk in the Mayoralty Room.
Heritage Open Days. This year the Heritage Open Days will take place from Thursday, 6th until Sunday, 9th September. Details of the local programme, organised by Anne Davies on behalf of this Society, will be posted when they become available, and they will include guided town walks.
Tuesday, September 11th ‘Buckfast Abbey, History, Art and Architecture’ – Rev Peter Beacham.
Peter Beacham, a distinguished architectural historian and Chairman of the Devonshire Association, will be speaking about the history of Buckfast Abbey since its early beginnings in the 11th century.: the first abbey was founded one thousand years ago in 1018. He has recently edited a detailed and sumptuously illustrated book with the same title.
Tuesday, October 9th ‘Knightshayes Court Garden Conservation’ – Jess Evans
Jess studied at the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew and she was the 2015 winner of the Chartered Institute of Horticulture’s ‘Young Horticulturalist of the Year’ award. She has recently been appointed Head Gardener for the listed 50 acre gardens at Knightshayes Court.
Tuesday, October 30th ‘The Future of Mid Devon’ – Tristan Peat
Tristan is the newly appointed Forward Planning Team Leader for Mid Devon, and he was previously Principal Planning Officer for Teignbridge District Council. His presentation will include the new Local Plan and the Greater Exeter Strategic Plan.
Friday, November 16th AGM followed by a talk by Neil Parish, M.P. for Tiverton and Honiton, and Chair of the Parliamentary Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee. (Title to follow).
The photograph shows Tiverton Town Hall. The Mayoralty Room, where we hold our meetings, is on the first floor.