Our monthly meetings take place at the Clifton Centre, Ashdene Road, and start at 7:30pm.
Below is a list of our upcoming talks, but for more information please contact: Mrs Sally James (Treasurer) on 01869 243804 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
19th February 2018
Home of Lost Causes & Forsaken Beliefs – History of Oxford University
No-one in their right mind would create from scratch a university on the seemingly unworkable Oxford model. Yet Oxford’s achievements are undeniable and it remains one of our pre-eminent universities. The explanation of this paradox lies in its 800-year history. This talk will attempt to disentangle myth from reality and to offer an entertaining yet balanced view of one of our oldest and most controversial institutions.
19th March 2018
A Window into Bicester's Architectural History
Windows are among the most important features that architectural historians use to date buildings. This talk will trace the development of window design from the medieval period right up until the present day using examples that can be seen in Bicester’s surprisingly rich architectural heritage. These examples reveal not only the evolution of architectural fashions but also key changes in economic and social history.
16th April 2018
Charles Dickens as 19th Century Social Reformer and Medical Observer
Professor Greg Stores
As a result of his own early experiences and later contact with disadvantaged groups, Dickens became familiar with poverty and ill-health caused largely by the growth of urban populations and the pre-scientific nature of medicine in the early part of the 19th century. This led to his considerable campaigning in favour of social and public health reforms. He also observed the illnesses of people he encountered which he used in describing many of his fictional characters with such detail that it is possible to discuss their likely disorders. As a clinical observer Dickens was well ahead of his contemporary physicians. Examples of these themes are illustrated and discussed in relation to characters in his novels.
21st May 2018
Pagans & Puritans – The Story of May Morning in Oxfordshire
May morning in Oxford is famous for the thousands who gather at 6am to hear a Latin hymn sung from the top of Magdalen College tower. It is an extraordinary ceremony, but only one feature of Oxford tradition. Maytime revels take place all over the city, and were already controversial in Britain in 1250 when the Chancellor of Oxford University forbade ‘alike in churches, all dancing in masks or with disorderly noises, and all processions of men wearing wreaths and garlands made of leaves of trees or flowers or what not.’ www.maymorning.co.uk and www.timhealey.co.uk
18th June 2018
The Coming of the Railway to Oxford
The railway arrived relatively late in Oxford, partly due to the objections of the university, which feared for the morals of its students. When it did come, however, it had profound effects on the city physically, economically and socially. This talk includes the story of how a house made of paper almost delayed the building of Oxford’s first line; of the station erected by the engineers of Crystal Palace; and of how the railway affected the coaching, river and canal trades, industries like brewing and marmalade-making, and the development of Oxford’s “base and brickish skirt”.
16th July 2018
Wireless War Secrets
This talk explores the history of the SOE listening and transmitting stations operating near to Bicester during WW2. The SOE was the secret organisation set up Churchill at the start of the war to send agents into occupied Europe to aid the local resistance movements.
17th September 2018
AGM followed by St Edburg's Church & School
Janet & Victor Puddick
15th October 2018
“The Bicester Gang” and other stories of Oxford Castle – including a personal Norman, Indian and local association
Oxford Castle has experienced a relatively uneventful past, in the sense of its military or royal importance, but when told through the exploits of some of its more colourful prisoners (and indeed its gaolers), its relevance comes vividly to life – and death! From the Civil War onwards, these mainly 17th- and 18th-century tales of imprisonment, hard labour, transportation, escape, and execution reveal the extremes of human cruelty, desperation and ingenuity – Bicester residents included! Oxford local historian Mark Davies, author of Stories of Oxford Castle: from Dungeon to Dunghill, will outline some of the more interesting cases, and his own surprising discovery of a family history which connects the first Norman governors of Oxford Castle with both Bicester and India.
19th November 2018
Oxfordshire in 50 Objects
Fifty fascinating objects, each telling a unique story, and brought together to celebrate Oxfordshire Museums Service’s half century. Chosen by community groups and members of the Service past and present, this exhibition showcases Oxfordshire's rich heritage through the memories, experiences and interests of people from across the county. I curated the exhibition on behalf of the Service.
17th December 2018
15th July 2019
1066: Oxfordshire and the Norman Conquest
Julie Ann Godson
So many of the key events surrounding the Norman invasion of Anglo-Saxon England in 1066 took place in modern Oxfordshire. It was an event which changed the country forever. And from the birth of a prince to the formal surrender after the Battle of Hastings, Oxfordshire frequently provided the background for the board-room take-over which was the Norman Conquest of England. Enjoy a not-too-serious romp through the most tumultuous ever period of England's history.