Bexley Historical Society's talks are held monthly at 7.45pm for 8pm start at the hall of St John Fisher RC Church, 48, Thanet Road, Bexley Kent DA5 1AP. Talks are free for Members. Visitors are very welcome with a fee of £3.00 per meeting.
There is a small car park next to the St John Fisher Church and there is a public car park in Thanet Road which is free after 6pm. Bexley Village is served by bus routes: 132, 229, 269, 492, B12. Bexley Railway Station is a short walk away.
Talks in 2020
Monday 13 January 2020: Poets of The First World War and their Kentish connections, by Bob Ogley
Poets of The First World War and their Kentish connections, with Bob’s wife Fern, a RADA- trained actress performing the poems.
Monday 10 February 2020: AGM, then The Life and Historical Times of Iris Brooker, by Trevor Tamsett and Ken Chamberlain
Iris Brooker, who died in 2016, had been a member of Bexley Historical Society since 1976. She was fascinated by local history and had a vast knowledge of the Bexley Borough, especially Bexleyheath and Erith. Aged 17, Iris worked in the millinery department at Hides. She shared her fascinating personal memories through conversations and letters; these included putting out incendiary fires at Hides with a stirrup pump during a Second World War air raid. This talk will include a photographic selection of her photographs around Hides and the Market Square of Bexleyheath.
Monday 9 March 2020: Hops, Inns and Pilgrims on the South Side of London Bridge, by John Halligan
John Halligan has had a lifelong interest in history and qualified as a City of London Guide in 2004. Since then he has developed more than 12 walks in and around the City and has 8 talks connected to London and British history. In 2017 he became a Freeman of the City of London.
John's talk entitled 'Hops, Inns & Pilgrims on the South Side of London Bridge' explains some of the fascinating history of the area around the bridge-head.
The pilgrims in Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales started their journey from one of Southwark’s Inns and the local Coaching Inns were very important for people travelling to and from the south of England. John will also describe the brewing industry in Southwark, the notorious prisons and much, much more!
Monday 6 April 2020: A Trip on the Royal Train, by Graeme Payne
Graeme Payne has been speaking to groups about travel related subjects for over 40 years and has worked in the airline, shipping and rail industries. He is author of numerous books and websites, most of which focus on luxury travel and cruising and has provided presentations in over 80 countries. He is a regular speaker on Cunard, Saga Cruises and Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines and is a Destination Speaker on Queen Mary 2’s World Voyages.
Monday 11 May 2020: The Master Masons: the Men behind the Great Cathedrals, by Imogen Corrigan
Imogen was in the army for nearly 20 years and then turned to a life-long interest studying Anglo-Saxon and Medieval History. She now lectures and runs study tours on Anglo-Saxon and Medieval history. She is also the author of Stone on Stone: The Men who built the Cathedrals (Robert Hale, 2019).
In this talk we meet the Master Masons who both designed the buildings and ran the site. They commanded everything whether it was sourcing the vast quantities of wood and stone, recruiting the workforce or knowing enough about their various trades to be able to create heaven on earth out the cacophony of thousands of chisels and hammers.
These men were charismatic leaders, but they were continually checked by their fellow Master Masons in the interests of making a building as strong as possible – we only see their successes, after all. They were real people who got into trouble with the law, who occasionally cheated on contracts, who liked to start a job but not to finish it. On the other hand, their creations remain to this day, some breathtakingly beautiful in their exquisite detail causing us, centuries later, to stand in a nave and wonder.
Monday 8 June 2020: The River Thames - London's Liquid History, by Stuart Robinson
This talk looks at the River Thames, its importance to the existence of the City of London from Roman times to the present day. The talk will look at all aspects of the River Thames from being a highway for trade to being a source of employment, leisure, sport, pageantry, a place of tragedy, and a repository of a vile disease.
Monday 13 July 2020: The Royal Hospital Chelsea, by Brian Cumming, MBE
Brian enlisted into the Royal Corps of Signals in 1950, retiring in 1983. He travelled world-wide during his military service. He is Past National Chairman of the Institute of Welfare Officers, Past Devon County RBL Chairman and Past Chairman of Drake Probus Plymouth. He was made a Member of the British Empire in 1999 for services to Military Welfare. He entered the Royal Hospital Chelsea in 2010 after the death of his wife Patricia.
The talk will present an overview of life in a grade one residence for Army veterans built in 1682 on the command of King Charles II and under the direction of the architect Sir Christopher Wren.
Monday 14 September 2020: The History of Sissinghurst Castle and Gardens, by Stephen Harmer
Gardener and lecturer in garden history, Stephen is also the author of 'La Chaire,The Story of Jerseys Lost Garden'.
This will be a lively talk on the history of Sissinghurst and its occupants.
Monday 12 October 2020: Food of the Gods - the Utterly Divine History of Chocolate, by Russell Bowes
Congratulations, lucky finder of this Golden Ticket, which entitles you to a guided tour of Wonka's famous chocolate factory, conducted by Mr Willy Wonka himself. You will learn all about the history of chocolate from its discovery in the forests of central Mexico to the birth of the modern chocolate bar, and your tour will include tickets to a rehearsal of Mozart's Cosi Fan Tutti, a ride in the Great Glass Elevator to a chocolate processing plant, breakfast with a Spanish Marquesa and possibly - if you have been very good indeed - some free samples to take home with you.
Russell is a garden historian, tour guide, and speaker on a variety of talks connected with this most fascinating of subjects.
Monday 9 November 2020: The Story of ENSA, or Every Night Something Awful, by Delia Taylor
When WWII was declared, the government felt entertainment was important to keep up people’s morale. The Entertainments National Service Association was set up and entertainers were encouraged to join; over 50,000 answered the call.
Enjoy a trip down memory lane learning about the artists who would become household names and loved by millions of troops fighting around the world.
Monday 14 December 2020: The Story of Test Pilot 2nd Lt Deighton Simpson, by Peter Daniel
Hear the amazing story of old Etonian Vickers Joyce Green test pilot 2nd Lt Deighton Simpson. This New Yorker rich boy had a Polish Jewish grandfather transported to Australia for pick pocketing at the Lord Mayor’s show. Simpson absconded from Harvard and worked his passage as a stoker to join up in 1914. His distraught mother chased over the Atlantic. Deighton Simpson died testing an experimental biplane at Joyce Green at Christmas 1916.