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Report of Speaker Events 2016

25th January 2016: AGM

The year started well with the usual AGM and Member’s Social. Despite cold weather it was well attended. The Society’s accounts showed a small profit, and the previous year’s events were reviewed. Ray Asher, one of the Society’s longest standing members, was made an Honorary Member.

25th February: The Boer War Pt3 – Peter Lavarack

This was the third and last of Peter’s popular histories of the Boer War, told from a South African perspective. After the victories for the Boer fighters which were covered in the previous talks, this looked at the outcomes of the war (including the treatment of Boer prisoners) and the ultimate partitioning of Africa. An excellent final chapter in a series of fascinating talks on an unusual subject.

21st March: A Stroll in the Park - Peter Halman

A broad brush look at the development of the urban park, from the carefully cultivated private parks of the gentry to the open spaces provided for the wider public , and how these have been used and preserved over the years. An excellent speaker and an informative talk.

25th April: Anna Munro; A Life Forgotten – Steve Masters.

Suffragette and activist, a socially minded, intelligent and capable woman, whose work in support of women’s rights is now overlooked in favour of the better known leaders of women’s suffrage. Anna Munro’s history and the social and historical background to her life and work was wonderfully presented, and the woman herself brought to life with much supporting detail, by Steve Masters.

23rd May: Avebury – Dr Josh Pollard

Avebury and its surrounding landscape are a local historic and archaeological attraction, but Dr Pollard has been involved in recent work to investigate new aspects of the ancient landscape around the monument. He shared with the Members the findings from the recent excavations around the West Kennet Occupation site, and the major discovery of both a massive tree throw hole, and a gigantic post hole whose occupying post may have both replaced and commemorated the fallen tree.  Archaeology at the pit-face!

27th June: The Swing Riots – John Trigg

The Swing Riots were a widespread revolt in 1830-32 against the rise of mechanization in agriculture, the depressed wages and high food prices, spurred on by the very real fear of agricultural labourers that these changes threatened their jobs and livelihood. John Trigg looked at their spread in Berkshire and the impact they made on the commoners, gentry and the wider society of the area. John Trigg gave Members an informative and well researched look at the ‘alarums and excursions’ of an exciting and sometimes violent period of history.

26th September: The Knights Hospitallers – Canon Martin Coppen

The Knights Hospitallers of Jerusalem originated as a monastic Order set up to assist pilgrims to the Holy City, and in particular to support the inured, sick and dying. Canon Coppen gave a fascinating, detailed and unbiased history of the Order form its conception to the present day, when the aims of the Order still exist in the St John’s Ambulance Service.