Walton and Hersham

Decorative & Fine Arts Society


Special Interest Days 

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Walton and Hersham


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.

Programme for 2012

'CURTAIN UP!': A Study Day on the life and times of William Shakespeare and his plays in performance 1600-2010
Shakespeare, Chandos portrait
The Chandos portrait, artist and authenticity unconfirmed
National Portrait Gallery, London

Frances Hughes and
Adrian McLoughlin

13 March 2012

First Session: Life in Shakespeare's Theatres (c. 70 minutes)

This talk traces the early theatrical influences on the young William Shakespeare in Stratford-upon-A von, his birthplace, and continues with his life and work in the court and theatres of Elizabethan and Jacobean London. We shall look at slides of relevant engravings, paintings, portraits and maps of the period and at contemporary accounts of the first Shakespearean actors. Shakespeare's plays were first acted in the theatres on the North Bank of the Thames - the Theatre and the Curtain. We shall discover how the Theatre was demolished and transported to the South Bank of the Thames at Southwark to be re-built as the Globe. Shakespeare's first plays on the South Bank, however, Titus Andronicus and Henry VI Part 1, were at the Rose Theatre, Bankside .. We will look at the archaeological discoveries currently being made on the original sites of the Rose and the Globe and trace where Shakespeare lived in the City. Shakespeare acted, wrote plays and poetry and also dabbled with a brush. He wore a scarlet livery as a King's Man but became a wealthy landowner in London and Stratford-upon-Avon. He was a Tudor propagandist and Jacobean visionary but above all 'he was not for an age but for all time.'

Reading List

Shakespeare in paintings, prints etc., Geoffrey Ashton (Studio Editions, 1990)
At the Sign of the Swan, Judith Cook (Philimore & Co, 1981)
Shakespeare & Co., Stanley Wells (Allen Lane 2006)
Shakespeare; The Biography, Peter Ackroyd (Chatto & Windus, 2005)
1599, A Year in the Life of Shakespeare (Faber & Faber, 2005)

Second session: A light-hearted anthology 'Shakespeare as you may like it with Frances Hughes and Adrian McLoughlin (c. 50 minutes)

Third session: Shakespeare in performance 1660-2010 (c. 70 minutes)

In this talk we shall explore Shakespeare's plays in performance from the Restoration to the present day with especial emphasis on the influence of Elizabethan theatres on the twenty-first century productions of Shakespeare in London. We will look at images of the greatest British actors in paintings and photography including Betterton, Garrick, Siddons, Kemble, Kean, Phelps, Irving, Terry, Gielgud, Olivier and Evans.

Reading List

That Despicable Race, Bryan Forbes (Elm Tree Books, 1980)
Thunder in the Air, Brian Masters (Oberon Books, 2000)
Shakespeare, An illustrated Stage History, Bate & Jackson (OUP, 1996)

Biographical Details

Adrian McLoughlin

Adrian's theatre performances include Singin' in the Rain (West Yorkshire Playhouse and National Theatre), House and Garden (National Theatre) and Private Fears in Public Places (Orange Tree and New York). Adrian has appeared in many Ayckbourn plays at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough. TV appearances include The Bill, Casualty, Coronation Street and Poirot. Adrian has appeared in King Lear, The Tempest and Measure for Measure.

Frances Hughes

After a career in Education (18 years as a head teacher) Frances is now a freelance lecturer in Art & Theatre History. She lectures for NADFAS and at the National Portrait Gallery and the Shakespeare Institute, Stratford-upon-Avon. She is Hon. Secretary of the Shakespeare Reading Society (founded 1875) and Chairman of the Irving Society and the Henry Irving Foundation.

The English Parish Church: A Social and Architectural History

Andrew Davies

27 September

Chaldon Church

Chaldon Church is of Saxon Foundation
and is recorded in the Charter of Frithwald, dated 727 AD

We are fortunate indeed to have so many parish churches (17,000), all different and each with its own unique story to tell. We will explore their development both inside and out, glorying in our wool churches, commanding towers and spires and regional diversity. Churchyards, stained glass, Doom paintings, errant clergymen all feature in this fully illustrated talk.

Reading List

Alec Clifton-Taylor, The English Parish Church as a Work of Art (Oxford University Press, 1986)
Pamela Cunnington, How Old is that Church? (Blandford 1990)
Robert Harbison, The Shell Guide to the English Parish Church (Deutsch 1992)
Simon Jenkins, England's Thousand Best Churches (Penguin 1999)


Andrew Davies (MA Hons Oxon) is extra-mural tutor for London, Essex and The Open University; author of nine books, including 'The East End Nobody Knows'; frequent contributor to radio and television; has lectured all over the world; organises walks to complement his lectures. Has recently returned from a lecture tour to Australia.

The Ox and the Ass - Silent Watchers at the Crib

Hilary Hope Guise

11 December

Have you ever wondered why every Nativity scene and every school play has to have an Ox and an Ass? Are they there just to add authenticity to Christ's lowly birth in a stable? Or could they have a long history of meaning? This lectures sets out to find out more.

Nativity on Sarcophagus

The ox, the ass, and the infant Jesus
in one of the earliest depictions of the nativity,
(Ancient Roman Christian sarcophagus, 4th century)

"Where there are no Oxen, the manger is empty. But from the strength of an ox comes an abundant harvest" Proverbs 14: 4 Early interpreters of the Scriptures would have known that verse, thus the ox would indicate the full manger. An ox was the strongest and most useful animal on the farm therefore of great value as it stood for strength and endurance.

But the bull or ox also has a long and important history in Greek mythology and religion as a beast of royal sacrifice. It represents not only the sacrifice to the gods, but the gods themselves. And offering a hecatomb of oxen involved sacrificially slaughtering a hundred beasts. The bull was an image of power in the Ancient Near East, and also the key image in the cults of Minoan Crete. It was also the sacred animal of Poseidon and Zeus. The bull's blood had a purifying function in certain Greek cults and was a key image of sacrifice in the cult of Mithraism in Rome.

The ass seems to be a representation of humility as it carries Christ into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. And the humble donkey also carries the new baby and his mother on the flight into Egypt.

The ass also appears on certain Roman Christian amulets from the 3 rd century AD along with the name of Christ - thus suggesting that in the early church the ass was a sign for Christ rather like the Fish-Ikthus. Tacitus, among several other classical writers, attested to a contemporary belief that the Jews worshiped an ass, and that the ass-headed god of the Egyptians, was seen to be associated with the Hebrew God. There is a graffito dated c200AD found on the wall of a Roman barracks depicting an ass-headed man on a Cross which no one has satisfactorily explained, but it may not be a mockery as most scholars suggest. The ox and the ass might both be reminders of different aspects of Jesus' character and of his sacrifice. The lecture moves on to draw together all the threads in the some of the most beautiful paintings of the Nativity from the early Flemish masters through to Murillo and Caravaggio. The research is illustrated with a wide range of images from the catacombs, from Greek vases and Roman coins, and early Christian mosaics, to the orthodox imagery that we all know so well.