2018-2019  LECTURES

The Lectures take place between 1st October and end of March, at Bethesda Church Hall, Gt. Norwood Street, CHELTENHAM, GL50 2AP at 2.30pm. on the FIRST Thursday of each month, and at Woodmancote School at 7.30pm on the THIRD Thursday of the month

The admission price for all meetings payable, on the door, £3 Members & £4 visitors. 

The Thursday afternoon meetings to remain at Bethesda Methodist Church Hall until further notice.

The Thursday evening meetings will be at Woodmancote School.

How to get to Woodmancote School

Woodmancote School is located in Station Road, Woodmancote, GL52 9HN.

Suggested directions from Cheltenham are either to:

Take the A435 Evesham Road, do not follow the by-pass round Bishop‘s Cleeve. Instead go into the village and right after passing the fish and chip shop onto Station Road. The school is on your right, after the railway bridge. If you reach the mini roundabout, you have gone too far.


Take the B4632 Prestbury Road towards Winchcombe. Ignore the turning to Southam and take the next turning on the left, about 200yards further on, signposted ¬źWoodmancote‘. This is New Road. Follow the road round past the old chestnut tree on your right into Station Road. The school is down the road, on your left, just past the mini roundabout. If you reach the railway bridge you have gone too far!

The entrance to the school car park is closer to the mini roundabout, the exit is closer to the railway bridge.


The programme of lectures for 2018-19 is as follows:


4th October              Bethesda            Newark Park                                            Stephanie van Stokkom

18th October            Woodmancote    Tasmania                                                  Frank Austin

1st November          Bethesda           The Gunpowder Plot                                  Vic Avis

15th November        Woodmancote    Regency Cheltenham                               Stephen Blake

6th December          Bethesda           Corfe Castle, Dorset                                  Pam White


3rd January             Bethesda           James Wyatt, Architect                                Helen Roberts

17th January           Woodmancote    Looking at Pictures                                     Simon Trapnell

7th February           Bethesda            BBC Naturewatch at Sherborne Estate      Simon Nicholas

21st February         Woodmancote    The Siege of Gloucester, 1643                    Ted Wilson or Paul Drinkwater

7th March               Bethesda            National Star College                                   Sally Gillespie

In connection with this talk, the Star College has invited members and friends to a tour of the College on 19 March, 2019. The details of this outing are here.


Lecture reports

Corfe Castle and the Bankes family: Thursday 6th December

Pam White expertly gave us a brief history of Corfe Castle, right from when it was shiny new in 1086 (it would have been whitewashed).  Henry I and Edward I added to it, the latter using it as a prison.  Its importance declined after Edward I.  In 1572 Elizabeth I sold it to Sir Christopher Hatton, one of her favourite courtiers.  James I visited, as the then owner, Lady Elizabeth Hatton, was a lady in waiting to his Queen.  Lady Elizabeth brought in topsoil to create an impressive garden.  In 1635 Sir John Bankes bought Corfe: he was Charles I right hand man.  In 1638 the ravens flew away from the Castle, which was considered a bad omen.  Lady Bankes bought Kingston Lacy, and other properties in Norfolk and Dorset. Until the Civil War their income was colossal.  The first siege lasted six weeks, and the Parliamentarians went away. We saw the portraits of Sir John and Lady Mary: she is famously holding the keys supposedly of the Castle.  The keys are proudly displayed at Kingston Lacy, but Pam believes they are of the wrong period.  Sadly, Pam‘s research has convinced her that Lady Mary was not at Corfe during the second siege, when the Castle finally succumbed to the Parliamentarians and was slighted.

Julph Miers  


                                              The Lectures Sub-Committee at work.

When your list of lectures comes through in your newsletter every year please give a thought to the hard-working members of the Centre’s lectures sub-committee. This seven-member subcommittee ably
chaired by Jan Turner, organise, arrange and run the lecture series for the benefit of members on a
completely voluntary basis.
They are fortified only with copious cups of tea or coffee and a substantial supply of quality biscuits provided free of charge by the host.
The meeting this September reviewed progress and details of the organisation for the coming season’s lectures and tried to anticipate possible problems. It seeks to ensure that speakers arrive, are properly introduced, looked after and paid. Critically the sub-committee tries to ensure that the audiovisual equipment arrives in a working order, the pay desk is manned and that the key for the premises is collected and returned. Additionally, some of the committee members have the responsibility of the storage and carriage of the equipment to the two venues.
The meeting in November concentrates on the choice of speakers. That is followed by sometimes tortuous attempts to contact them and sort out availability. This follows a strict procedure written by the subcommittee Minute Secretary and endorsed by the sub-committee members. Subsequent meetings monitor progress and identify issues arising during the season.
During the long summer break, they are busy ensuring that lecturers will turn up, have all the equipment required and that the publicity is provided for the newsletter, website and the 'What’s On' section of Radio Gloucestershire

Recently innovations by the sub-committee are a request for voluntary contributions for the refreshments on the Thursday evening lectures; investigation of the hearing loop and audio equipment systems in both venues and the introduction of a free guest pass for members to invite non-members to one of the evening series of talks.  All this is intended to give good quality lectures at a reasonable charge of £3. 

 The photo below was taken at the September meeting shows Peter Walker, Jan Turner, (chairman), June Stroud, Julph Miers and Ann Nye. Bill Cronin was hiding behind the camera and Duncan Reid had sent his apologies.     


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