These special interest days take place at the Riverhouse in Walton and normally take the
form of two lectures in the morning followed by lunch. A further lecture
or discussion follows in the afternoon.
Wednesday 23 April 2008
Dr. Rosamund Bartlett
Psychology of a City: Architecture of St. Petersburg
Booking opens at the March meeting.
St. Petersburg in pre-revolutionary times was always a
thrilling experience. Imagine stepping off the train and
into a troika which would transport you noiselessly over the
snow down impossibly wide, long streets—past spacious
squares and enormous classical buildings, past imperial
ministries, embassies, and imposing cathedrals with gilded
domes—all the way, if you were lucky, to your opulent
mansion on the embankment of the River Neva. The city’s
dignity and grandeur were everywhere apparent. St.
Petersburg has some of the most beautiful facades of any
city in the world. But what went on behind those facades
during imperial times? Peter the Great had before him a vast
tabula rasa when planning his future capital at the
beginning of the 18th century. The city he built was truly
sumptuous—but it came at a price. This lecture tells the
story of the buildings of St. Petersburg, but also the life
that went on inside the buildings, focussing particularly on
the city's writers, musicians and artists, for whom St.
Petersburg definitely had a personality—sometimes enigmatic,
sometimes tragic—which they immortalised in their paintings,
music and literary works.
The talk will be accompanied by
Thursday 25 September 2008
From Shakespeare to the Royal Shakespeare Company
Booking opens at the July meeting.
explore the fascinating history of the British theatre which
for centuries has been at the heart of our life and culture.
The lecture is fully illustrated with many unique slides.
- Medieval mystery plays
- the first theatres in Shoreditch
- the Globe, 1599
- William Shakespeare and his contemporaries
- Inigo Jones' court masques
From Restoration to Victorian
- Charles II, Nell Gwyn and Restoration drama
- the life and career of David Garrick
- the growth of Theatre Royals outside London
- fairground theatres and strolling players
From the Victorians to Today
- penny gaffs and bloodtubs
- the rowdy Old Vic and others
- the life and career of Sir Henry Irving
- popular drama (music hall, circus, radio and
- 2Oth century theatre: the National Theatre,
Royal Shakespeare Company and others
Tuesday 9 December 2008
(an evening meeting with
Dr. Claire Walsh
A History of Christmas Shopping
Booking opens at the October meeting.
Christmas before the late-nineteenth century was a
simple, domestic affair concentrated on Christmas Day. From
the Renaissance to the mid-nineteenth century, shopping for
Christmas simply meant buying food for the Christmas Day
meal. But by the late- nineteenth century Christmas had been
transformed. As the popularity of gift exchange increased,
‘doing the shops’ became a central feature of Christmas
celebrations in the 1880s. With the commercialisation of
Christmas, the introduction of Christmas cards, decorations,
presents and the tree, the shopping workload increased
remarkably and the Christmas period expanded from a few days
to a six week period within a matter of years.
The Christmas present became one of the central features
of the late-Victorian Christmas, Father Christmas himself
underwent a change in image as he became specifically the
bearer of presents, but it was the wife and mother of the
family who made Christmas happen by going out shopping.
Initially the female shopper was commended for her efforts
in braving the crowds and the weather, and in her skill,
thrift and creativity in shopping. However, the popularity
of post-Christmas sales provided the chance for ridicule in
cartoons in the popular press, and by the early 1900s the
female shopper’s ruthless drive for a bargain and ability to
shop ‘til she dropped was the hilarious target of Punch’s