next meeting is at Irene Bentley's
house on 8th January 2014 at 7.30pm.
meet every six weeks or
so, usually on a Wednesday
evening, at one of our members' houses.
Michael Sparrow will talk about Edmund Burke.
At our meetings one of our number gives a talk on a historical subject
of particular interest to him/her for about forty minutes, then we have
a discussion about what we have heard.
We currently have fourteen members but new recruits are always welcome.
It is not compulsory to give talks so don’t be put
thinking that you will have to perform.
At each meeting we decide on a speaker, subject
and venue for the following meeting.
choice of topic is often not known until the meeting
actually takes place, as a group member will volunteer and then decide
what the subject matter will be.
Would anyone who would like to do a one off presentation to the
group on any historical event or person contact Pam Curley and a
suitable date could be agreed.
April Shakespeare's World
History of the Class System
Medical Science and Eye Defects
November The Nazi
authenticity in history
Report on January Meeting
subject of the meeting
16th January was
Sir William Marshall.
Sir William Marshall (1147-1219) achieved considerable success on his
own merits, not having been born in a Royal or privileged
household. He was a contemporary of Richard the Lionheart and
knighted at the age of 20. He made a
very financially beneficial
marriage and by the time he was 42 was described as a 'great
Baron'. After the death of King Richard he became a supporter
King John and on John's death acted as Regent until Henry III was able
to take over the ruling of the Kingdom. On William's death he
buried as a Knight Templar.
Report on February Meeting
Here is the summary of the History Group meeting held on
20th February 2013:-
Liam gave a very interesting presentation on the history of gold,
starting in 4,000BC, when the first reference to gold is made as being
used in central Europe for decorative purposes. In 1091BC the
Chinese made square golden coins which were used as money and in 50BC
the Romans began issuing gold coins. Gold has been discovered on
every continent in the world and most of the gold discovered in history
is still in circulation today. There is still 80% of the world's
gold in the ground.
Report on April Meeting
Steve Reynold's presentation entitled 'Shakespeare's World'
was very interesting. It emphasised the fact that very little is
actually known about his life beyond his literary output: 39 plays and
154 sonnets. There are many years of his life about which nothing
is known and of the portraits purported to be of Shakespeare, only the
Chandos portrait is accepted as being genuine. Another very
interesting aspect relates to the number of words and phrases invented
by him of which eight hundred are still in common use today, for
example, penthouse, one fell swoop, play fast and loose, be in a pickle
and budge an inch, to quote just a few.
on May Meeting
There were two major historical events which changed the
class system. The first was the Black Death, which wiped out
nearly half of the population of Britain. The dramatic fall in
the workforce allowed the peasants, and women, to assert
themselves. The next major impact on the class system was
the Industrial Revolution. As the factory system spread, the
gentry, who had supplied the initial capital, were replaced by
professional managers who became the middle classes. Britain now
had an Upper class, a Middle class and a Working class. There has
been several attempts to classify the British social structure, none of
which seem to work very well, as those in the History Group can testify
when they tried to use the new BBC's British Class Calculator.
This topic provoked a great deal of discussion and was very
on June Meeting
The presentation by Mike Humphris told of the development of medical
science's ability to rectify many eye defects, from the invention of
glass, three thousand years BC to the first eye transplant in
2013. It made the group consider what it might be like not to be
able to see and realise how fortunate we are in the present time that
most common eye defects can be corrected. Spectacles had been
invented as early as 1280AD, but it was not until the 17th century that
they looked more like we know them today; a copy of a painting dated
1650 shows St. Jerome using spectacles. Contact lenses were
invented in 1887, but it was in the 20th century when that the greatest
developments were made in correcting eye defects.
on the 21st August Meeting
Sue Clark gave a very interesting talk on the decline of
Smyrna on the Agean coast of Anatolia in the Ottoman Empire, now known
as Izmir. The province, with its port, was a very prosperous and multi
racial world trading centre over many centuries. The period
covered was from 1908, when the Young Turks were coming to the fore,
until 1923 when Kemal Ataturk came to power. The climax of
Smyrna's decline came in 1919 when it was invaded by Greece, supported
by the victorious Allied Forces, to rid the area of the Turks.
However, the Turks, after some setbacks, drove the Greeks to retreat to
the harbour at Smryna and set fire to the city thereby destroying it
completely. The consequences of this disaster was the forced mass
migration of people to the east and west on ethnic or religious
on the 2nd October Meeting
This talk by Marlene Brookes sought to dispel
the myths surrounding Napoleon. Was he really the caricature
depicted in so many comedy sketches as "The Little Corporal" with the
"Napoleon complex" who said, "Not tonight, Josephine!" after a supper
of Chicken Marengo?
Napoleon was born to an aristocratic Italian family in Corsica, August
1769, and quickly rose to prominence after the Reign of Terror as a
brilliant military commander who inspired devotion in his troops.
He won a series of victories which led to the break-up of the
Holy Roman Empire and shaped the history of Europe and the USA for the
next two centuries. At home, he initiated a number of reforms
which spread to many other European nations, including freedom of
religion for all faiths, reform of education, the establishment of a
sewage system throughout France, metrification, the Code Civil.
As a revolutionary, he disappointed many of his supporters when he took
the title of Emperor in 1804. Despite his victories on land, he
was unable to win any sea battles against the British Navy, which he
had aspired to join as a young boy.
His luck ran out when he marched on Moscow in 1812. Despite being
victorious in every battle, he was eventually beaten by the Russian
winter and out of his army of nearly half a million, only 10,000
returned unscathed. Despite further successes on the battlefield
in Germany, he was defeated at the Battle of Leipzig in 1813 and
eventually exiled to Elba, where in his year there, he opened up iron
mines and reformed agricultural practices before escaping and being
received in triumph in Paris. He next confronted his enemies at
the Battle of Waterloo where he met his final defeat and was exiled to
St. Helena where he died in 1821.
on the 13th November Meeting
THE NAZIS AND HISTORY. In the early 1930s
Hitler wanted to give the German people a history that would unite all
Germany and acknowledge Hitler as the supreme leader. He took the
swastika from India where it is regarded as a holy symbol and made it
the flag of the Nazis. Himmler, head of the SS, attempted to
obtain a Roman manuscript from an Italian count to prove that an Aryan
race that defeated the Romans were the direct ancestors of the modern
day Germans. Himmler also instituted an organisation called the
Ahnenerbe in which academics from all fields worked to prove that the
Germans were the 'chosen' people. However, all this proved
futile, as we know the 1000 year Reich only lasted for a few years.