Farnham & District Museum Society

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Talks Programme 2020-2021

All talks start at 7:45 pm (except April 2021)


Entry to the talks is free for members (a donation towards the costs would be appreciated).


Non members are most welcome to attend any talk, there is a charge of £3 for each visitor.






Date:              September 24th 2020
Subject:         Frank Austin, brother of the more famous Jane

Presenter:    Dr Cheryl Butler



The lesser known story of Jane Austen’s sailor brother Frank who rose to become Lord Admiral of England is told by Dr Cheryl Butler, Hon. Fellow the University of Winchester and Board Member for the Hampshire Trust.  


Frank’s is a fascinating life of great achievement and Jane drew upon the lives of her sailor brothers in her novels Persuasion and Mansfield Park.




Date:              October 8th 2020
Subject:        Working the Wey – bargemen of the Wey Navigation around 1700

Presenter:    Sue Jones


The Wey Navigation opened in 1653 and ran for a century between the Thames at Weybridge and Guildford before its extension in the 1760s to Godalming.


While much has been written about the Navigation’s construction, less is known of the people who worked on it in its early days. Sue Jones will discuss the Navigation in its first century focussing on the bargemen who worked it, their boats and their trade.


This work formed part of a dissertation for the Master’s in Local History at Oxford’s Department of Continuing Education, where Sue is now studying for a doctorate on the economy and demography of early modern Surrey.




Date:              October 22nd 2020
Subject:        Neolithic Temples of Malta

Presenter:    Mike Pengelly


Mike Pengelly returns to talk to us about the earliest inhabitants of Malta who arrived around 5200 BC from Sicily using rafts.  They were megalithic temple builders and Mike will show us some of the oldest structures in the world that still exist.




Date:              November 5th 2020
Subject:        George Abbott Man of the World

Presenter:    Nicholas Bale


Described by the Chambers Biographical Dictionary as ‘a sincere but narrow minded Calvinist’ this son of Guildford led an eventful life becoming Archbishop of Canterbury in 1611.  Nicholas Bale, local historian and Friend of Guildford Museum will talk on his life and the reason behind his endowment of a hospital in Guildford.




Date:              November 19th 2020
Subject:        The Life and Loves of Ada Lovelace

Presenter:    Dr. David Taylor


Dr. David Taylor, Chairman of the Surrey History Trust and a Trustee of Painshill Park Trust invites us to look at the life of Ada Lovelace.  Born Augusta Byron she was the only legitimate child of Lord Byron and was a mathematician and writer known chiefly for her work on Babbage’s mechanical general purpose computer.




Date:              December 3rd 2020 
Subject:        History of Christmas Foods

Presenter:    Rupert Matthews


After his brief sojourn as an MEP, Rupert Matthews has returned to his career as an historian and speaker.  Before leaving for Brussels he spoke to us on the Battle of Waterloo but this time speaks on a seasonal topic .











Date:              January 14th 2021

Subject:         Postal Reforms in early Victorian England

Presenter:     Lawrence Anslow


The Penny Black is, perhaps, the most famous postage stamp in world. It represented the culmination of a lot of hard work to reform, what was then, a very expensive postal service.


This talk covers the background to this story and features more examples of stamps from other countries who followed our example. Many of these issues are excellent examples of the engravers art. Lawrence Anslow has spoken to the society previously and is well known to members of the U3A.




Date:              January 28th 2021

Subject:        Sir James Barrie

Presenter:    Guy Singer

Guy Singer, local historian, will tell the story of Sir James Barrie BT OM, 1860 - 1937, author, journalist and playwright. Prolific author, Barrie wrote the story of Peter Pan while living at Black Lake Cottage, Farnham.


His transformation into one of the wealthiest writers of the time from humble upbringings is a story in its own right. Barrie witnessed the tragic death of his older brother when James was 6, creating the boy who would never grow up. His remarkable personal tale revolves around his friendship with the Llewelyn Davies family; the death of both parents and two of the Llewelyn Davies boys fills his personal story with sadness, not reflected at all in the joy Peter Pan has brought to children for more than a century since its first performances.




Date:              February 11th 2021

Subject:         Farnborough Aviation History

Presenter:     Dr.Graham Rood


Dr.Graham Rood is the Secretary of the Farnborough Air Sciences Trust and he returns to give us the second half of his fascinating talk on how Farnborough’s aviation history has contributed so much to the development of aeronautical science over time.




Date:              February 25th 2021

Subject:        Roman Settlement in North Farnham and the surrounding area

Presenter:     Anne Sassin Allen


Anne Sassin Allen is well known for her work on the ‘Finding Farnham Test Pit Project’ and is looking forward to a new dig in September 2020 to look at Roman Settlement in North Farnham. Anne will report on her findings.




Date:              March 11th 2021

Subject:        Ongoing excavations at Silchester

Presenter:    Professor Mike Fulford


This talk was cancelled in 2020 due to Coronavirus and luckily Professor Mike Fulford was free to take up the last unbooked speaking slot in our 2021 season.


Professor Fulford has been leading the team of students, volunteers and professional archaeologists since excavations began in 1997. He was recognised for his Services to Scholarship by a CBE in 2011.




Date:              March 25th 2021

Subject:        he Eton College Collection

Presenter:    Eleanor Hoare


Eton was founded in 1440 by King Henry VI as "Kynge's College of Our Ladye of Eton besyde Windesore” to provide free education to 70 poor boys who would then go on to King's College, Cambridge, which he founded in 1441.


Eleanor Hoare is the archivist for the Eton Collection and will give an overview of the College’s history as well as touching on the wonderful collection of rare books and manuscripts, art and artifacts, and photographs which play a role in the everyday life of the college and are used extensively in teaching.




Date:              April 15th 2021

Subject:        Accents and dialects

Presenter:    Susan Purcell


Why are there so many regional accents in Britain? Why are some accents more favoured than others? Why do some accents survive – and even thrive – whilst others, such as the rural Surrey accent, die out?


Susan Purcell will consider these topics in her talk, and will give details of the distinctive vocabulary and other features of the old Surrey dialect. Susan is a linguist who has written several books on grammar and other language matters, and previously spoke to us very amusingly on the History of Crosswords.


This meeting will start a little earlier at 7.30.


The talk will be followed by the AGM.