General History 2017


Monday 13th February Meeting


Elaine Yates introduced Caroline O'Callaghan as the General History Group Convener. Alison Barsby will be the group Deputy and Treasurer of the group.


To set the scene we showed just under 20 minutes of ‘Awakening’ part one of the DVD 1916: The Irish Rebellion (BBC/RTE) Narrated by Liam Neeson. This was a landmark documentary series examining the 1916 Easter Rising in Dublin and the subsequent events that led to the establishment of an independent Irish State and indirectly to the breakup of the British Empire.


Vincent O’Callaghan gave an interesting further talk following on to the first part of the Awakening first part of the DVD about the people involved and the attempts at Home Rule.


We then saw the first two minutes of part two ‘Insurrection’ of the DVD as a taster for what we might choose to explore ourselves for next time.  


Discussion and questions followed by members identifying which relevant area they would like to follow up on to feed back to the March meeting to share and pool our knowledge.


Monday 13th March Meeting


We watched the 2nd part of the DVD 1916: The Irish Rebellion (BBC/RTE) Narrated by Liam Neeson on the Easter Rising itself – “Insurrection”.


Group members gave varied and interesting talks to show their research with the rest of the group. Members expressed surprise at many of their findings being quite different from what they expected and we started to explore these.


From our enthusiastic volunteers they contributed:


The role of St. Enda's School (Scoil Éanna), the secondary school for boys set up in 1908 in Ranelagh, Dublin by Irish nationalist Patrick Pearse – Elaine Yates with photos projected by Tim Yates


Part of The Proclamation was read out to the group to further set the scene - Anne Williams


The British point of view, was such a level of force understandable or justified? – Julia Scott


The relevance of WW1 to the 1916 Easter Rising – Sue Whiteman


Discussion as to where the group might meet after April 2017 and whether we wished to go on future trips and talks related to our topics of study and the financial costs of this.



Monday 24th April Meeting

We had a further discussion as to where we wish to go from here regarding content, subject, speakers relevant to subjects, funding and members will feed back on other less expensive halls they have agreed to investigate. We agreed the next three meetings will be about the Tudors running up to the August day visit to Sudeley Castle & Winchcombe.

Anne Williams agreed to do some initial finding out about The Salt Road to let us know the possibilities for study and visits in the Autumn.

Following the discussion Caroline O'Callaghan will look at the possibility other meeting places discussed.

Then we had a final shorter instalment if the 3rd part of the 1916: The Irish Rebellion (BBC/RTE) Narrated by Liam Neeson.

After coffee / tea members gave a short talk about what they have found out about their chosen area with a chance to ask questions and discuss.

The role of James Connolly (from one of his descendants in the group) – Lin Roberts

The role of the Irish Women’s Movement ‘Cumman na mBan’ – Caroline O’Callaghan

The relevance of the strike and the lockout of Irish trade union members - Vincent O’Callaghan

The writings, poems and plays of the Irish Rebellion including Easter, 1916’ and 'Sixteen Dead Men' by William Butler Yeats and his relationship with Maud Gonne MacBride -  Anne Williams

THE TUDORS - part 1

Monday 8th May Meeting

We watched the 2015 BBC documentary Shakespeare’s Mother: The Secret Life of a Tudor Woman brought to life by historian and broadcaster Michael Wood.  Mary Arden, her family and their lives on the farm through turbulent Tudor times is a fascinating contrast to the Royals and Knights stories of the time.


We then discussed the film and talked about what group members are interested to research about the Tudor period to share with each other at our July meeting. See below.

Anne Williams gave feedback on what was possible for the proposed Droitwich Roman Salt Road visit for September.

Caroline gave feedback about the possible alternative meeting halls from October 2017. Elaine & Tim suggested Tesco and this was favoured as a possibility so Caroline will follow up.

THE TUDORS - part 2

Monday 12th June 2017


We discovered the childhood home of Shakespeare’s mother. Experienced the sights, sounds and smells of a working Tudor farm at Mary Arden’s Farm. We meet the Tudors who run the farm wearing period costume just as Shakespeare’s mother would have done, watch craft and falconry demonstrations and explore the farmyard, playground and historic buildings.

Built by Mary’s father, Robert Arden around 1514, Mary Arden’s House has been significantly altered over time. We were able to peek inside the chimney and the walls, discover how the house was built and imagine what life must have been like for Mary when she lived here with her seven sisters.

Neighbouring Palmer’s Farmhouse retained much of its original 16th Century structure. Adam Palmer would have employed several day labourers to undertake the daily work on the land and the care of the livestock, and female servants to help his wife with domestic and farmyard tasks. By 1584 Palmer had improved his house, demolishing the old hall and parlour and building a new hall, cross-passage and kitchen, to create the building we saw. We had an opportunity to watch the Tudor Farm lunch prepared.

THE TUDORS - part 3

Monday 10th July meeting 

We watched an episode of The Tudor Monastery Farm– BBC 2 DVD - Historian Ruth Goodman and archaeologists Peter Ginn and Tom Pinfold turned the clock back over 500 years to run a farm at the Weald & Downland Open Air Museum in West Sussex exactly as it would have been in 1500, during the reign of the first Tudor King, Henry VII.

Group members discussed the DVD over refreshments and the enjoyable and interesting June visit to Mary Arden’s Farm lead by Alison Barsby.

Members fascinating feedback to the group on what they have found out about:

Music in the Tudor era with slides and pictures of Tudor instruments and a musical accompaniment - Anne Williams

Hygiene in Tudor times for the rich and poor especially in relation to hair care – Sue Clarke

Rush floors, mattresses & bedsteads with the development of chimneys in the Tudor & Elizabethan eras – Caroline O’Callaghan

Housekeeping - Information & discussion about the new venue for the autumn, last minute information on the Sudeley Castle visit August from Caroline O'Callaghan and The Droitwich Roman Salt Road visit in September booked by Anne Williams.

Saturday 12th August: Building the Cathedral Exhibition we visited the exhibition of how the Cathedral was constructed from the Middle Ages onwards. Looking at the various types of mediaeval craftsmen and stonemasons who appear in the Cathedral library's historic documents followed by the tour around the Cathedral's more significant Stained Glass Windows including  the inspiring West Window depicting Creation, currently being conserved, and the window commemorating Sir Edward Elgar and Sir Charles Hastings.  
Monday 14th August: Cathedral Garden Tour.  We went on a tour around the Cathedral's gardens with the gardener. This was a real treat and for me (Caroline) the best of the tours I did.
Saturday 19th August: Worcester Cathedral Behind the Scenes Upper Reaches Tour. Seeing the Cathedral from a different perspective. Guided tour given by the Cathedral Archaeologist or a specialist trained upper reaches guide through some of the Cathedral roof spaces.
Wednesday 23rd August: Worcester Cathedral Library Tour. Guided tours of the Cathedral library offering a chance to see the Worcester Anitphoner and other mediaeval manuscripts, other historic documents and rare books form the Cathedral archives.
Wednesday 23rd August: Worcester Cathedral Fossils in the Stones A tour around the stonework used to construct the Cathedral discovering more about the fossils hidden within.

THE TUDORS - part 4

Monday 21st August 2017

Sudeley Castle and Winchcombe. 20 members went on the visit.

The castle was once home to Queen Katherine Parr, the last and surviving wife of King Henry VIII. Henry himself, Anne Boleyn, Lady Jane Grey, Queen Elizabeth I and Richard III have all played a part in Sudeley’s story. King Charles I found refuge here during the Civil War, when his nephew Prince Rupert established headquarters at the Castle. Following its ‘slighting’ on Cromwell’s orders at the end of the Civil War, Sudeley lay neglected and derelict for nearly 200 years.

King George III was amongst those sightseers who came to admire its romantic ruins. Then in 1837 Sudeley was rescued by the wealthy Worcester glove-makers, brothers John and William Dent, who began an ambitious restoration program which was continued by their nephew, John Coucher Dent, when he inherited the castle in 1855. His wife, Emma Brocklehurst, threw herself enthusiastically into Sudeley’s restoration, at the same time forging strong links with the nearby town of Winchcombe. It is the results of Emma’s dedication that are so evident in the gardens and exhibitions at Sudeley today.


Monday 11th September visit  

We met at the museum and spent an hour at the museum looking at the two exhibitions. We were then met by the Mayor of Droitwich who is also the Chairman of the Local Historic Society and he guided us on a historic walking tour until about of Droitwich showing parts that even those of us who know Droitwich had never seen. Many thanks to Anne Williams for arranging this!

The History Group Trip to Avoncroft Museum of Historic Buildings

Friday 6th October 2017

Several of us joined the trip to Avoncroft Museum of Historic Buildings which is an open air museum of rescued buildings which have been relocated to its site in Stoke Heath, a district of Bromsgrove. Chris a volunteer told us about the museum and other volunteers were in several of the major buildings to tell us about their history. Thank you to Margaret for inviting us.


Monday 9th October was our first meeting at the Kidderminster Tesco Community Room. We took the opportunity to review our first 9 months and to plan our next 9 months of meetings and topics. We also discussed the information for the AGM stand for next Monday's meeting. To be added to our list of to do's - Group visit using shared cars to Ludlow Castle Summer 2018 & Look at the Dents of Worcster adding to what we have learnt about Emma Dent.


Monday 13th November meeting at 1.50pm at Kidderminster Tesco meeting at the customer services desk 

Film (first part) of The Russian Revolution in colour followed by group members who have volunteered to research & share (maximum 10 minutes each please) Anne Kraemer the Causes of the Russian Revolution, Anne Williams the Russian Royal Family and their role incl connections with UK Royal Family, Vincent O’Callaghan the Bolshevik & Mensheviks and then a group discussion about the film and contributions.

Wednesday 13th December 6.30pm start at Harvington Hall -

Elizabethan dancing, tour, mulled wine and mince pies event - Please note change of Venue, Day and time for this Christmas Treat! SOLD OUT