LECTURE PROGRAMMES - 2020 and 2019



Please note the new lecture starting time of 7:00 pm, with refreshments being served from 6:30 pm

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.

 3rd February 2020

Pearls, Pomegranates, Peacocks and Pipes – The Hidden Language of Renaissance Art

Shirley Smith: With a wealth of hidden symbolism, this lecture aims to peel back the layers of Renaissance art by deciphering the meaning of some of these symbols – spiritual and secular, virginal and vulgar - enabling us to read the paintings as they were intended.

2nd March 2020

It’s Not Just Tchaikovsky.
Nigel Bates, Musical Administrator of the Royal Ballet, explores the music chosen by choreographers through the years, proving that the right piece with the right moves and design can create modern masterpieces and timeless classics, from the grandness of Imperial Russia with Swan Lake, to the current modern repertoire of the Royal Ballet.

6th April 2020  -  Postponed until March 2021 

John Ruskin - Impact, Achievement & Legacy

David Cross describes one of the greatest Victorian polymaths, as a painter, a significant collector of paintings and a perceptive critic. A scholar of Northern Gothic and a supporter of the education of women, he endowed a museum for working men at Sheffield and, in the Arts & Crafts movement, he advocated high quality workmanship

11th May 2020   -  Postponed until May 2021

Turner vs Constable - The Great British Paint Off

Nichola Moorby tells the story of the epic rivalry between the two giants of British art, JMW Turner and John Constable. These two geniuses transformed the art of landscape - but who will ultimately be crowned star painter?.

 1st June 2020   -  Postponed until June 2021

Medieval Illuminated Books of Hours

Christopher de Hamel looks at what a Book of Hours comprises, who commissioned them and how they were used. They are the most famous late medieval illuminated manuscripts, full of enchanting illustrations and decorated borders showing scenes of daily life in the late Middle Ages.

 Friday 3rd July 2020  -  Postponed until July 2021

SUPPER EVENING (for members only and guests)

The Good Gnus

Three musical humourists including Dr David Flood, Organist and Master of Canterbury Cathedral Choir Boys, provide an evening of fun, quick fire wit and gentle satire, all wrapped in songs in the manner of “Flanders & Swan”. Enjoy tales of warthogs and gnus and the sad tale of the honeysuckle and the bindweed.

7th September 2020

The Subtle Science & Exact Art of Colour in English Garden Design

Timothy Walker: In 1888 Gertrude Jekyll wrote in The Garden that readers “should remember that in a garden we are painting a picture”. This talk looks at how to apply these principles in designing a border and shows how the contemporary works of Turner, Monet and Hockney evolved with ideas of what a garden should look like.

5th October 2020

The Material Culture of Al-Andalus

Ian Cockburn tells the story of the Moorish invasion and the Christian reconquest of the Iberian Peninsula, through an introduction to the surviving architecture and other areas of material culture such as silk textiles, carved ivory caskets, bronzed sculptures and refined ceramics.

2nd November 2020 – AGM 6.15 pm

Poets, Painters & Private Lives in 19th century Venice

Douglas Skeggs delivers a personal tour of 19th century Venice in search of painters, poets and authors and the strange and often bizarre lives they led in the city; the customs and rituals they found and the rich and varied succession of images they created that ultimately transformed the hard city of the Venetian Republic into the romantic legend it is today.

7th December 2020

An Intimate Portrait of Chopin in Words & Music

Stephen Baron and Marguerite Duncan-Sutherland: The piano music of Chopin enjoys widespread popularity. Stephen and Marguerite provide a chronicle of Chopin’s life. The music heard includes little-known childhood polonaises, many popular pieces and the dramatic third ballade.

4th January 2021

Giotto – Founder of Modern Art

Alice Foster discusses the works of Giotto (1266-1337), the first Italian master to achieve universal recognition in his own lifetime. His images are still easily readable 700 years on, and Dante and Boccaccio described him as
someone who “brought back to light” the art of painting characterised by a sense of drama through body language and facial expression.


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

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.