LECTURE PROGRAMMES - 2019 and 2018




ALERT - The lecture on 3rd June has been changed owing to unavailability of the original speaker

7th January 2019

Thomas Heatherwick

Anthea Streeter talks about this important British designer. His Olympic Cauldron with its giant ring of fire was a memorable sight at the Opening Ceremony of the London Olympic Games in 2012, and his innovative approach is now in demand all over the world.

4th February 2019

The Chair – 2000 Years of Sitting Down!

Marc Allum, Antiques Roadshow specialist, takes a look at the history and evolution of the chair. From the ancient humble forest-turners’ chair to the fantastical designs of the 1960s, Marc explores why the design of the chair continues to absorb some of the greatest minds in history.

4th March 2019

Empress Cixi (1835-1908) Behind the Yellow Silk Screen

David Rosier provides an insight into the achievements of one of the most important women in Chinese Imperial history. Looking beyond Cixi’s desire to force China into the modern world we look into her life within her beloved Summer Palace with a focus on her passion for painting, embroidery, fashion design and the extensive gardens, where she forged some close relationships with leading western women.

1st April 2019

The Glamour Years – Jewellery & Fashion from 1929 to 1959

Andrew Prince shows how the rise of cinema and Hollywood had such an important impact on fashion and jewellery design. From Dietrich to Grace Kelly, he guides us through the Screen Goddesses and how they were portrayed.

13th May 2019

Sunken Treasure – Tales of Oriental Shipwreck Porcelain

Mary Conte-Helm traces the history of Chinese blue-and-white porcelain and the export trade along the Silk Roads. She recounts tales of shipwrecks, lost cargoes and recovery of sunken treasures that have increased our understanding of this porcelain and its wider commercial impact on trade between East and West.

3rd June 2019      (Note:  this lecture has been changed from that originally planned.)

A Brief Story of Wine

David Wright takes us on a journey through the many deep and diverse roles wine has played in society over the last 7000 years, illuminating the story with drawings, paintings, engravings, buildings, pottery and wine labels themselves.

Friday 5th July 2019


Giles: His Life, Times & Cartoons

Barry Venning discusses the cartoonist, Carl Giles, and his much-loved creation, Grandma Giles – that fearsome, black-clad, gambling, drinking, battle-axe – because she allowed him to voice through his cartoons what he was too polite to say in person. However, this likeable and humane satirist was also a war correspondent who witnessed the horrors of Belsen, where he found that the camp commandant was also a great fan of his work

2nd September 2019

John Singer Sargeant – Prince of Portraits and More

Clyde Binfield discusses the artist who was a paid-up member of the cosmopolitan elite: Born in Italy, educated in France, looks like a German, speaks like an Englishman and paints like a Spaniard. His portraits made him, and his landscapes rejuvenated him.

7th October 2019

Vincent van Gogh – His Life & Letters

Lucrezia Walker asks the question about why van Gogh is so famous. We know the Sunflowers, Starry Night, his self-portraits, the bright prismatic colour applied with energetic strokes of the brush. We know his life was not an easy one. What makes his paintings instantly recognizable? What happened during his short life, and afterwards to transform him into the world’s best-loved artist?

4th November 2019 – AGM 7.30pm

Velasquez – The Great Magician of Art

Douglas Skeggs describes this 17C Spanish artist as one of the most influential painters in the history of art. By the age of twenty-four, he was the only artist permitted to paint the King of Spain. His breathtaking and daring use of paint has been admired by generations of artists from Whistler to Picasso, who famously described him as The Great Magician of Art.

2nd December 2019

Wonder Workers and the Art of Illusion

Bertie Pearce takes us on a whistle-stop tour of the history of mystery from 3000BC to the 21C.  From the beginning of time the fascination with magic and the impossible has been widespread throughout the world, where sleight of hand proves that the hand is quicker than the eye.

6th January 2020

GPO – The Night Train

Howard Smith describes the birth of documentary films in the 1930s with clips from Victorian and Edwardian films, through the experimental Soviet era to the 129 films produced by the GPO Film Unit in seven years, including Night Mail with poetry by W H Auden and music by Benjamin Britten.


8th January 2018

Indians, Buffaloes and Storms

Toby Faber describes the lives of the explorers who opened up the American West in 19C, through the eyes of the artists who travelled with them. Painters like Alfred Miller, Frederick Church & Albert Bierstadt who have left us with a powerful, if romanticised, record of the arrival of the railroad, the confinement of
the Native Americans and the extermination of the buffalo.

 5th February 2018

Shaken by an Earthquake

Sandy Burnett examines the build-up to “The Rite of Spring” premiere in Paris, taking a look at the original costumes; playing excerpts from Stravinsky’s fascinatingly inventive score; and exploring what divided the opinions of that first-night audience so dramatically. No, nothing could top the riot at the “Rite of Spring” in 1913!

5th March 2018

The Salutation Gardens.

Steve Edney, Head Gardener, details the history of the famous gardens in Sandwich. Designed in 1912 by architect Sir Edwin Lutyens and inspired by his collaborations with Gertrude Jekyll, the gardens are divided into a series of symmetrical “rooms”, each with a different purpose, gathered around a unifying theme.

9th April 2018 -   A "TASTER LECTURE"  when guests  may come for free to experience an evening at our  Society

Holbein in England

Sarah Stopford brings to life this great 16th.C Renaissance artist; born in Germany, Holbein brought the Renaissance from Northern Europe to London. Working in perilous times, he became court painter to King Henry VIII. The faces emerging from his portraits portray with penetrating psychological insight such celebrities as Erasmus, Thomas More and King Henry himself.

14th May 2018

The Life of Oscar Nemon

Aurelia Young describes the life and works of her father, the sculptor whose statue of Churchill stands in Parliament Square. He also sculpted the Queen, royalty, politicians soldiers and an early statue of Sigmund Freud, now in Hampstead.

 4th June 2018

Amadeo Modigliani & Bohemian Paris

Julian Halsby discusses the short life of one of the most popular artists of the 20C, looking at his life in Paris from 1906 to his death in 1920. He was at the centre of Bohemian Paris and a close friend of Utrillo, Picasso, Max Jacob, Kisling, and Soutine. He describes Modigliani’s haunting portraits and sensual nudes while exploring the Bohemian life of Montmartre.

Friday 6th July


As Good as Gold Alexandra Epps describes the story of gold and its significance and symbolism within the history of art.

3rd September 2018

The Seine Estuary – River of Light capturing the 19C Imagination

Carole Petipher looks at the host of artists who flocked to the picturesque harbour of Honfleur and its surroundings to capture, in Baudelaire’s words:”This green and rose vastness which goes to my head like an intoxicating drink”.

1st October 2018

The Bayeux Tapestry – created in Canterbury for the Earl of Kent

Nicholas Reed’s surprising title follows the evidence that the tapestry was commissioned by William the Conqueror’s brother Odo, both Earl of Kent and Bishop of Bayeux. His talk includes reproductions of the tapestry and details from manuscripts in Canterbury.

5th November 2018 – AGM 7.15pm

Oh yes it is; Oh no it isn’t - the unresolved questions of authenticity

David Philips looks in detail at the human stories and the evidence pro and con in some notoriously undecided disputes, including the Turin shroud and the Getty Museum’s Kouros.

3rd December 2018

Jane Austen’s Christmas – the festive season in Georgian England

Claire Walsh looks at Christmas before the Victorians reinvented it, when the emphasis was on gentility, tradition and sociability with no Christmas trees or Father Christmas. Taken from Jane Austen’s novels, she describes the balls, parties, dinners, games, traditions and celebrations that filled the festive season.

7th January 2019

Architecture Now!

Anthea Streeter examines several examples of recent new buildings designed by British architects at home and abroad, including Thomas Heatherwick’s unusual design for the Hive Building in Singapore. The lecture is designed to give members an updated framework to which they can refer when considering modern architecture.