The November meeting of the History Group was devoted to Members’ Research Projects, which had been undertaken throughout the year. As usual, the standard of research was very high and there was a variety of topics and styles of presentation which engaged the interest of the Group.

Ken Adderley gave a very interesting talk on the history of the Rotary Clubs International, from its inception in North America to its establishment in the UK and then Venita Crutch read us an evocative poem penned by herself. 

This was followed by Diana Foster giving us an account of the ATA and its crucial role during the Second World War and next, Janet regaled us with the history of the Christmas staple, Mincemeat, from its humble beginnings as a savoury dish to the rich sweet food that it is today.

Janice Evans continued by giving a humorous and thorough explanation of pub names (see below), with a particular emphasis on the names of local pubs and Elaine Yates changed the tone of the meeting by talking about the Irish Potato Famine, a poignant description, which was enhanced by a group of singers from the History Group singing a couple of songs relating to that tragic time.

Carole Clements continued by relating an account of a ‘Childhood in the 1940's’, which was amusing, detailed and at times quite racy and to finish Audrey recalled the Germanic origins of the Christmas Tree.

All the contributors were warmly received and thanked for all their hard work.

Heidy Hague


Kidderminster Pubs Past and Present.


Royal George was standing at the Railway Station with the Bottle in Hand and the Compass in the other, waiting for the Weary Traveller; while the Bishop Blaize was ringing in the Railway Bell with the Bricklayers Arms.

When the West Midland Railway Train appeared out of the Lionfield Tavern, the Duke of Edinburgh was surprised to see the Grand Turk in Unity with the King of Prussia.  They all then proceeded over the Bridge to Broadwaters, Inn the Coach and Horses.

On the way back, they ran over the Woolpack lying in the middle of the road between the Land Oak and the Olive Tree and Dove.  When they arrived at the Chester Tavern, Shakespeare told the Green Man to hold the Nag’s Head while Lyttelton Arms had a Royal Exchange with the Plough and Harrow.  They found the Angel on the Barley Mow playing Blue Bell on the Harp with the Lamb by her side; while the Tumbling Sailors were chasing the Black Boy round Uncle Tom’s Cabin, upsetting the Boar’s Head and the Three Crowns and Sugarloaf, and frightening the Hen and Chickens out of the Wrens Nest.

The Fox came out of the Royal Oak and killed the Bird in Hand.  The Red Man got so angry that he picked up the Malt Shovel and threw it at the Green Dragon, hitting the King’s Head and knocking the Unicorn right into the Freemason’s Arms, causing the Old Bear to climb up the Hop Pole after the Leopard.

Robin Hood then took up the Horn and Trumpet in the Foley Arms and went to the Castle on the Albion Hill, where he met the Sportsman on the Bay Horse, in Union with the Duke of York on the Black Horse and the Grey Hound.  King William was at the Travellers Rest watching the Rampart Lion chasing the Reindeer and the Roebuck round the Woodfield Rock Vaults.  The Pied Bull jumped over the Severn Stars and Half Moon and dropped into the Corn Exchange for a drink from Ye Olde Fountain which disturbed the Fish.  Prince Albert felt as proud as a Peacock and as strong as a Lion so he went to the Vine for some Grapes but the Rising Sun rose from the Viaduct and so, George got Cross Keys.

There was a terrible duel between George and the Dragon but Britannia knighted him with the order of the Star and Garter.  The Cock and Turk’s Head assembled at the Park Gate to watch the Sailors return to the Boat on their Navigation to the Cape of Good Hope, where they dropped the Anchor on the Dolphin.

Everyone was delighted to see the King’s Arms put the Crown on the Queen’s Head at Belle View.

The Raven, the Swan and the Pheasant were sitting on the Three Tuns at Worcester Cross watching the Black Bull jumping over the Wheatsheaf into the Cricketers Arms.  The Rifleman from Waterloo shot the Red Lion , the White Hart and the Golden Lion at the Horsefair; then he took up the Square and Compass and followed the Black Star to the Clarendon; where he rang the Bell and ordered a drink of the best in Kidderminster.

Janice Evans


History Group Visit to Windsor Castle.


49 History Group Members travelled to Windsor Castle by coach on October 18, for the last visit of the current season.

The first views of the Castle were impressive – an imposing Norman fortress dominating the landscape atop a huge hill – an iconic image.

 We had a generous amount of time to visit the Castle and Chapel of St George, and viewed many notable areas, including the fully restored State and Semi State Rooms.

Passing the Round Tower, we first saw Queen Mary’s Dolls House, full of exquisite miniatures, created to scale by the leading British craftsmen and companies of that era and complete with working electricity and plumbing. Nearby were the dolls of Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret, a gift from the children of France, and dressed by the leading French couturiers of the day – Lanvin, Worth etc, and adorned with Cartier jewels. Priceless dolls and priceless dolls clothes!

Passing through opulent State Reception Rooms and Dining Rooms, Bedrooms and Dressing Rooms we entered the magnificent St Georges Hall, imposing in length (55.5m) width (9m) and height, and covered with the crests of the Knights of the Garter, also known as Companions of the Order, and the blank lozenges of disgraced Companions. 160 Guests can be seated at one table for a State Banquet in this Hall.

The Garter Throne Room can be easily overlooked but is the seat of British pomp and tradition.

After St George’s Hall we viewed the Green and Crimson Drawing Rooms, resplendent in vivid and fresh colours as per the original plans. They have been fully restored after the Great Fire of 1992 as has St George’s Hall. We noticed how bright the Castle appeared, and this is due to the many Lantern windows through which light floods in.

A short walk back past the Round Tower took us to St Georges Chapel – such a familiar image around the world. . Daily prayer has been held here for over 500 years.   Inside there was a poignant memorial in the Urswick Chantry to Princess Charlotte, who died in childbirth, aged 21; the marble memorial was so realistic and raw in its depiction of grief. Other historic sights in the Chapel include the burial places of Henry VIII, Jane Seymour and Charles the First in the Quire, as well as the memorials to King George VI and Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret.

Windsor Castle contains a wealth of history, being the oldest continuously inhabited royal residence in the world and the home of 39 monarchs.  It is well worth a return visit. Thanks to Geoff Bayley for organising this most interesting visit.


Heidy Hague


History Group Report for October.  Roy Peacock on ‘The Foleys of Great Witley’.


68 Members of the History Group attended a talk given by Roy Peacock on ‘The Foleys of Great Witley’. Roy’s obvious passion for the subject and enthusiastic presentation along with his encyclopaedic knowledge produced an informative and well-presented talk. Speaking without notes and with no visual aids, Roy nevertheless held his audience captive throughout the talk.

One of the main characters in the talk was Richard Foley, benevolent, a visionary, concentrating his social improvements on education, schools and grants and on being a model employer. His immense wealth was created through the iron industry, with large estates from Dudley to Shelsey Beauchamp as well as industrial interests in Bristol.

 There was a fascinating link with Kidderminster, enhanced through his friendship with Richard Baxter. In his lifetime he lived through an interesting period of history, having connections with Samuel Pepys, the Civil War, Queen Anne and the House of Lords.

Roy was warmly thanked for his fascinating and detailed talk and enjoyed talking further with members of the Group during refreshments.


Heidy Hague


History Group – September Meeting.


About 70 Members of the History Group attended the monthly meeting at St George’s Hall on 3 September 2012.

Two members had arrange to give presentations on Overseas Visits, but at the last moment one of the Speakers had to cancel and Dennis Plant was invited to give a longer report on his visit to Ypres.

This he did, with a respect and knowledge which conveyed the sombre depths of the First World War and the formation of the War Graves Commission. He showed us beautiful slides of the charming town of Ypres; and also landscape photographs of the surrounding countryside, simultaneously narrating details of the battle formations. We were shown pictures of the trenches and informed of the consequences of some of the ‘charges’ which left poignant feelings amongst those in the audience.

With his detailed information and well chosen accompanying photos, the Group were caught up in the story of Ypres, understanding the dreadful and unnecessary loss of life and were left with a moving impression of the Menin Gate, the War Graves and other Memorials.

A vote of thanks was given for all the hard work that Dennis had put into the presentation, and for the memorable way he had informed the Group about a very difficult and poignant topic.


Heidy Hague.

Report on U3A History Group Visit to Boscobel House and Wightwick Manor

On a warm, sunny day, 38 History Group members made their way to two significant, local Historic Houses.

The first, on the Shropshire/Staffordshire border, was Boscobel House (English Heritage), vital in the final days of the Civil War. Black and white buildings steeped in history and character still exude a sense of importance as the hiding place of Charles II, fleeing from the Parliamentarians, after his Battle of Worcester defeat. As a Roman Catholic stronghold, it contains Priest Hides, authentic Roman Catholic artefacts of the period and a wealth of architectural delights.

Split into two tour groups, our excellent Tour Guides, knowledgeable and patient, answered our many questions and gave us time to explore and appreciate each room. One Tour Guide shared our fun as an intrepid member hid in a Priest Hole, allowing the wooden lid to be replaced over him, giving a realistic feel to the Royal Escape story.

Later, members paid homage at the original ‘Royal Oak’ site, where the first descendant of the original tree still stands. It was here that Charles II spent 15 hours hunched in the branches as Parliamentarian troops searched below for him.

We felt a sense of momentous history at this picturesque farmhouse and environs.

We then drove to nearby Wightwick Manor (National Trust), previously in Staffordshire, now in the West Midlands. This beautiful, elegant Victorian home displays to full advantage the creativity and craftsmanship of the ‘Pre-Raphaelite’ and ‘Arts and Crafts’ Movements. Again, our Tour Guides were informative, thorough and enthusiastic, putting the house into its historical and social contexts and allowing us to appreciate the craftsmanship of the house and wealth of Pre-Raphaelite paintings and artefacts.

On our tour of the house we marvelled at the original 120 year old wallpaper, still hanging in most rooms. We saw the original electrical, wiring, fixtures and fittings, Wightwick Manor being the third residence in the United Kingdom to have electricity installed, after Cragside and Buckingham Palace. The magnificent double height Drawing Room had a real ‘WOW’ factor, and the masculine Billiard room reminded us of the distinct roles defining men and women in those days. Upstairs we viewed sumptuous Guest Bedrooms; nostalgic Day and Night Nurseries and the hidden Servants Quarters. We also glimpsed the secret staircase that took the Lady of the House upstairs when unwanted visitors arrived! Every room had its own name, designated on the Bell Board, eg Daisy Room, Agapanthus Room etc indicating a distinctive feature of the room eg wallpaper or bedspread or furnishings etc.

We were informed of Wightwick’s important historical connection – Mr Mander, the seond owner of the house, introducing to Britain the first 40 hour working week for his employees. The house also had significant social connections to our local area, through the four MacDonald Sisters of Wilden and Bewdley fame; one being the mother of Stanley Baldwin, another the wife of the artist Burne-Jones who designed the stained-glass windows of Wilden Church. Another sister was the mother of author Rudyard Kipling and the fourth sister married the President of the Royal Academy.

There was time before our departure to explore the delightful gardens surrounding the house, and admire the distinctive exterior, as well as partake of light refreshments. So! Two very different houses but each with a wealth of history to offer and explore.

 So!  A wonderful day of contrasts.

Heidy Hague 

History Group Visit to Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire.


A coach load of History Group Members travelled to Derbyshire to visit Hardwick Hall, following a previous talk to the Group on Bess of Hardwick, a redoubtable Elizabethan lady. Although the weather was inclement, it did not dampen the enthusiasm of the Group, who found the visit inspirational. During the course of the day, an informative and helpful guide gave us, as a Group, a very enlightening Introductory Talk.

 Hardwick Hall consists of an extended medieval farmhouse, which became a castle-like dwelling and the New Hall, a grand statement of wealth and status, built during the Elizabethan period. The New Hall was being built while the Old Hall was still being extended!  The roofless Old Hall has original decorative plasterwork and amazing views of the New Hall and the surrounding countryside. The New Hall retains its magnificent Belgian wall tapestries and Elizabethan furniture and impressed us with its lofty Great Hall and the Long Gallery, lined with many portraits of significant people of the period. Bess of Hardwick survived four husbands to become the second wealthiest and most powerful woman in the realm after Elizabeth I. Hardwick Hall is a lasting testimony to her incredible ambition and influence.


Heidy Hague.

History Group Visit to the Morgan Motor Company

Morgan cars

On Monday 5th March 2012 a group of 52 members of the History Group made a visit to the Morgan Motor Company in Malvern. On arrival we had the opportunity for light refreshments and were then greeted by our Tour Guides and split into two Groups.

After an introductory film, outlining the history and development of the Motor Company, the Groups were led around the Factory into the many areas of production and the various Shops. As we toured the Factory, we were reminded many times, by what we saw and heard, of the unique role, and place, the Morgan Motor Company has in this country and the automotive world.

We were privileged to see the chassis of their new model, the AeroMax +8,with an aluminium frame, classic body and BMW 4.8 litre engine, which was unveiling later that week along with the Aero Coupe, Plus E and the new Roadster at the world famous Geneva Motor Show and we also had the opportunity to admire many historic models, both in the Historic Cars Shop and in the Museum.

Our visit took us through the whole production system, from the moulding and drying of Lincolnshire ash for the car’s sub-frame, through the Panel –beating, Chassis, Machine, Trim and Paint Shops to Final Assembly. We were impressed by the man-intensive time spent on each car. Every car in every shop is assigned to one operator (except the ‘Spaghetti’ or Wiring Shop where two men are assigned) who follows his process and car through and then signs it off, ready for the next Shop.

Throughout the Tour, we were reminded of the contribution Harvey-Jones made to the Company, and whilst the men were fed plenty of technical information the ladies could admire the finishing details and style of the exhibits.  We all appreciated the care that went into each Morgan Motor, as the only car manufactured in the UK today with a coach-built body.

Some of the Group had a delicious and plentiful Buffet in the canteen, whilst others had a snack there and the rest of the Group were driven into Malvern to find refreshments before we rejoined to drive home.

We felt privileged to have witnessed the manufacture of such an historic and unique product and now we can really begin to appreciate the value of the Morgan Brand.


Heidy Hague.