Upcoming Talks

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: sallyjames46@hotmail.com

18th December 2017
Canal Communities
Martin Buckland

This talk focusses on the canal communities of the past, telling the human story behind the building and working of the Wilts & Berks Canal. It covers some of the families involved and the role of women during wartime.

15th January 2018
Excavations at the Westgate
Ben Ford

Initial results from Oxford's largest excavation - a prehistoric floodplain, a medieval Friary, Civil War defences and Victorian terraces. In 2016 'Westgate Oxford' won 'Archaeological Project of the Year', this richly illustrated talk will bring you up to date with the ongoing work from the largest archaeological endeavour to have been undertake in the City of Oxford. Ben Ford will discuss the changing landscape on the southern edge of the Oxford promontory, where the city meets the Thames Floodplain and how it was used and changed by human and natural action over the last 3000 years. The talk will touch on possible prehistoric and Saxon activity, deal in depth with the extensive structural and artefactual remains of the Greyfriars complex (1244 - 1538), before revealing evidence from the Civil War, and the more recent Victorian terraces of St Ebbes.

19th February 2018
Home of Lost Causes & Forsaken Beliefs – History of Oxford University
Chris Day

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
Local Villages
Bob Hessian


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
Tim Healey

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

18th June 2018
Railways of Oxford
Liz Woolley

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
John Beaumont

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.

19th November 2018
Oxfordshire in 50 Objects
Stephen Barker

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.