Programme of Events 2022

Our 2022 talks will be given via Zoom until it is safe to return to Hersham.

Lectures are held on the second Thursday of every month at 2.00pm. No lecture is held in August or December.

Jump to the month you are interested in January, February, March, April, May, June, July, September, October, November

Display Programme for 2022 in PDF format for printing.

Previous Years’ Programmes202120202019, 201820172016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004 (PDF format), 2003 (PDF format). Summary of all lectures in date order, and summary of all lectures by lecturer’s name.

Give us your view of the last lecture by clicking here.


January 13th: How to Pick a Favourite Church

St Peter and St Paul’s Church, Chaldon is renowned for its twelfth-century doom mural

Janet Gough has chosen one church from every diocese to illustrate the incredible story of our churches bound up with the story of England over the last 1400 years and shares with the audience how they might select their own favourites, together with the many joys and some of the challenges in maintaining England’s extraordinary ecclesiastical heritage.

Janet Gough was the Church of England’s Director of Church Buildings and Secretary of the Church Buildings Council and Cathedrals Fabric Commission. She has written two illustrated paperbacks to encourage greater enjoyment of these amazing buildings, Director’s Choice, Churches of the Church of England and Director’s Choice, Cathedrals of the Church of England and produced and presented on a TV series on cathedrals for PBS.

A Cambridge graduate in History and History of Art, Janet worked at Sotheby’s for nine years, was a trustee at the Churches Conservation Trust, the Museum of Fulham Palace and the Friends of the V&A and guided and lectured at the V&A. Janet set up and ran an architectural history course around visits to significant buildings. Janet has also given tours and lectured on secular architecture and fine and decorative arts.


February 10th: It’s Not Just Tchaikovsky

Alexandra Ansanelli as Aurora in the Royal Ballet production of Sleeping Beauty, 29 April 2008

Nigel Bates takes us on a wide-ranging exploration of the music chosen by ballet choreographers through the years, proving that the right composition with the addition of the right moves and the right designs can create modern masterpieces and timeless classics.  We move from the grandness of Imperial Russia with the creation of Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty and other established and popular works through to the current modern repertoire of the Royal Ballet, exploring the challenges met by both composers and choreographers. Includes several performance clips

Nigel Bates has been a performer for more than forty years in and out of the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, including seventeen years as Principal Percussionist with the Orchestra and eight years as the Music Administrator of The Royal Ballet.

 He has worked with many of the leading figures in the classical music industry and was also a producer for both the BBC’s Maestro at the Opera and Pappano’s Classical Voices documentary series. He is a regular contributor to the printed and online content of the ROH.He has given lectures for over thirty years, including many arts societies and conservatoires in the UK and across Australia.


March 10th: Peggy Guggenheim

Peggy Guggenheim, c.1930, Paris, photograph Rogi André (Rozsa Klein). In the background, Notre-Dame de Paris, and on the right, Joan Miró, Dutch Interior II (1928)

The ‘poor, little, rich girl’ who changed the face of 20th century art.  Not only was Peggy Guggenheim ahead of her time but she was the woman who helped to define it.  She discovered and nurtured a new generation of artists producing a new kind of art.  Through collecting not only art but the artists themselves, her life was as radical as her collection

Alexander Epps is an Official Guide and Lecturer at Tate Modern, Tate Britain and Guildhall Art Gallery. Pallant House Gallery Lecturer. Qualified Guide to the City of London, offering lectures and walks about many aspects of the arts for societies, corporations and private individuals. Member of the City of London Guide Lecturers Association. Co-author of the book Lord Mayor’s Portraits 1983-2014 (2015). Alexandra’s background is in design having practised as a graphic designer running her own design consultancy for many years. BA Saint Martins School of Art, MA London College of Printing..


April 14th: Dr Johnson and Hester Thrale, Blue-stocking and Wit  With Caricatures of the Day

Joshua Reynolds  (1723–1792), Portrait of Hester Thrale and her daughter Hester, c. 1777, 148.6 × 140.3 cm, Beaverbrook Art Gallery

In 1765, Samuel Johnson, aged 56, ill, lonely, living off Fleet Street among quarrelling dependents, was introduced to a wealthy brewer, Henry Thrale, and his witty and talented young Welsh-born wife, Hester. Their friendship would last 18 years, providing Johnson with hospitality and comfort. To Hester it brought the great stimulus of Johnson’s views on literature and life.  She responded with plenty of her own. When Thrale died and Hester remarried to an Italian musician, Gabriel Piozzi, London society never forgave her.  Nor did Johnson, telling Fanny Burnley “when I meet with one of her letters, I burn it.  ”Nonetheless, Hester would lead a spirited and literary life in North Wales and Bath as “The Scandalous Mrs Piozzi”. With paintings, portraits and caricatures by Hogarth, Rowlandson, Reynolds, Richard Wilson, Francis Hayman and George Moreland.

Karin Fernald is known for her entertaining lectures on writers and diarists connected with the arts from the mid-18th to 19th century, and moving forward in time with Virginia Woolf. Extensive research into diaries and letters bring lectures to vivid life. Karin illustrates them with slides of contemporary pictures and portraits from varied sources.


May 12th: The Ups and Downs in the Lives of the Impressionists Along the Section of the Seine Which Has Been Named “the Cradle of Impressionism”

Claude Monet (1840-1926), ‘Autumn Effect at Argenteuil’, 1873, The Courtauld

A tiny section of the Seine to the West of Paris which would have represented the perfect antidote to the claustrophobia of mid 19th century Paris, has been termed “ the Cradle of Impressionism”. It was here, to five neighbouring riverside villages, that the artists who would later become known as the Impressionists became frequent visitors. In some cases, they even set up home for a while.  The lives and early works of Monet, Renoir, Pissarro, Sisley, and Morisot will be explored in this lively and entertaining lecture.  Their desperation to gain recognition and make their mark is apparent and both the painting styles adopted and the subject matter depicted were to cause a revolution in the Art World.

Carole Petipher is an experienced guide and lecturer on combined history and art tours in France with 20 years experience. Having lived and worked on a number of bespoke river vessels and converted barges there she has used them as a platform from which to research her lectures. She uses art in all its guises to explore the characters who shaped France and likes to delve behind the scenes to discover hidden truths. She also acts as a guide for a privately owned ancestral home in her native Chilterns.


June 9th: Fashion, Fury and Feminism: Women’s Fight for Change

Gordon Ross (1873-1946), The Woman Behind the Gun, 1911, Library of Congress. Illustration shows a woman, possibly Coco Chanel, wearing a large hat with feathers, shooting at large white birds with a rifle; two dogs labeled “French Milliner” place the dead birds on a pile at her feet

When Tessa Boase, social historian, told the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds she wanted to write their early story, they refused to let her visit their archives.  To a former investigative journalist, this was a challenge she could not resist….this lecture shines a light on the intriguing story of women’s love affair with plumage – and of the brave eco-feminists who fought back on behalf of the birds.  Moving from a polite Victorian tea party to egret hunt in a Florida swamp; from a suffragette ‘monster’ rally to a milliner’s dusty workshop, you’ll be taken back in time to a world where every woman of every class wore a hat.

Tessa Boase is a freelance lecturer for The Arts Society along with other organisations such as the V&A, English Heritage and the National Trust. She’s the author of two books of social history: The Housekeeper’s Tale – The Women Who Really Ran the English Country House, and Mrs Pankhurst’s Purple Feather – Fashion, Fury and Feminism, Women’s Fight for Change. Her interest lies in uncovering stories of invisible women of the Victorian and Edwardian eras, revealing how they drove industry, propped up high society and manipulated politics. Tessa has an MA in English Literature from Oxford University, a diploma in Art History from the British Institute of Florence, and has enjoyed a long career in journalism for national newspapers and magazines.


July 14th: The State of British Craft

The speaker has written over 100,000 words in the Financial Times Weekend on craftspeople: their passions, skills and materials. Some of them believe they are the last practitioners of their craft.  How and why do people transform raw materials into works of art?  How do their hands and tools transform raw materials into works of utility and beauty? And how do they see their prospects as inheritors and conduits of handcrafted tradition in an industrialised world of mass production?

Dr Jonathan Foyle was Chief Executive of World Monuments Fund Britain for eight years, and a Curator of Historic Buildings at Hampton Court for as long, during which time he took his 2002 PhD on reconstructing Wolsey’s palace. He is a frequent feature writer for the Financial Times on issues of architecture, history and craft, and is approaching his fourth published cathedral monograph: Canterbury, Lincoln, Lichfield – now Peterborough. A presenter of numerous television series including BBC4’s Henry VIII: Patron or Plunderer? and BBC2’s Climbing Great Buildings, he lectures frequently on a range of art-historical topics. He brings teaching experience as a former Course Director for the University of Cambridge Summer Schools and is an Honorary Professor in Conservation at the University of Lincoln..


September 8th: Sixty Years On: Life in Britain as Seen in 1960’s Films

Working-class heroine Jo (Rita Tushingham) flees her uncaring single mother (Dora Bryan) and gets pregnant by a black sailor (Paul Danquah). 

The 1960’s is invariably referred to as the decade of change as indeed we shall see it was in many respects, but it was a decade of contradictions.  Swinging London never reached Hartlepool and Mary Quant made little impact on Burnley although she probably made more on Walton-on-Thames. The most popular programmes on television were not Cathy Come Home, and Up the Junction, but Miss World and The Black and White Minstrel Show.  This illustrated lecture uses well-known feature films like Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, A Taste of Honey, Billy Liar, A Hard Day’s Night, From Russia with Love, The Italian Job and, triumphantly, Carry On Up The Khyber to examine the history of that resonant decade.  What does it look like now from a perspective of more than fifty years?

Colin Shindler has maintained an active interest in twentieth century American and British social and cultural history whilst pursuing a wide-ranging career as a writer and producer in television, radio and motion pictures, and as an author of books and journalism for forty years.  He wrote the screenplay for the feature film Buster starring Phil Collins and Julie Walters and was the producer of such television dramas as Lovejoy, Wish Me Luck, and A Little Princess for which he won a BAFTA award, and Young Charlie Chaplin starring Twiggy which was nominated for a US Prime Time Emmy.  He has written three novels as well as numerous television scripts and radio plays but regards his greatest cultural contribution as choosing the title music for the police series Juliet Bravo.

He was awarded his Ph.D by Cambridge University and has been lecturing for the History faculty there on film and history since 1998.  His recent radio plays on P.G. Wodehouse (How to be an Internee) and Private Eye and The Profumo Affair (Rumours) were both selected by the BBC as Drama Podcast of the Week and he is currently writing another one for Radio Four about Leni Riefenstahl called Hitler’s Cutie.


October 13th: Food in Art

Sir Nathaniel Bacon (1585-1627), ‘Cookmaid with Still Life of Vegetables and Fruit’, c.1620-5, Tate Britain

How has art decorated eating places and how have the activities of trading in food, preparation and cooking been made the subject of paintings?  How and why people are shown eating?  How does the sheer beauty of some foods become celebrated in painting? This wide-ranging lecture encompasses ancient and modern art across many ages and styles: from the symbolic to the decorative, from luxurious to simple. How for centuries glorious food has made glorious art.

Alan Read holds Master’s and First Class Honours degrees in History of Art from Birkbeck College, University of London. Is a gallery guide at Tate Britain, Tate Modern and the National Portrait Gallery and has lectured at many galleries including the Dulwich Picture Gallery, Plymouth City Art Gallery and the NPG. He is also a London Blue Badge Guide and City of London Guide.


November 10th: The Butterfly on the Lagoon: Whistler in Venice 1879- 1880”

James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903), ‘The Doorway’, 1879-80

A detailed examination of Whistler’s 18 months in Venice from 1879 to 1880, starting with his court case against Ruskin which led to his bankruptcy and the loss of his house in Chelsea.  We look at how the Fine Art Society in Bond Street funded his trip to Venice and how he survived in the bitter winter of 1879-80. With the arrival of Spring and many American art students, Whistler again assumes the role of ‘the Master’ and Julian Halsby  talks about his practical jokes and often outrageous behaviour. He also examines in detail the marvellous etchings and pastels that Whistler produced during his time in Venice. On his return to London in 1880, Whistler held a series of highly successful exhibitions in Bond Street which restored his reputation and finances.  This is a story of misfortune followed by triumph, set against the sparkling background of Venice.

Julian Halsby studied History of Art at Cambridge. Formerly Senior Lecturer and Head of Department at Croydon College of Art. Publications include Venice – the Artist’s Vision (1990, 1995), The Art of Diana Armfield RA (1995), Dictionary of Scottish Painters (1990, 1998, 2001, 4th edition 2010), A Hand to Obey the Demon’s Eye (2000), Scottish Watercolours 1740-1940 (1986, 1991), A Private View – David Wolfers and the New Grafton Gallery (2002). Interviews artists for the Artist Magazine and is a member of the International Association of Art Critics and The Critics Circle. A practising artist, he was elected to the Royal Society of British Artists in 1994 and appointed Keeper in 2010.