Talks Programme for 2020/1

We have 6 talks a year on a large variety of subjects, lasting about an hour, in January, February, March and September, October and November.

The talks take place in the hall of Trinity Church, Conduit Road, Abingdon OX14 1DB at 2.30pm, with refreshments available afterwards. There is limited parking for the disabled at the Church and in the streets around. It is not necessary to book ahead, but we do appreciate a donation of £3 per non-member. Everyone is welcome and there is an opportunity to join the Association on the day, enabling free entry for that talk.  To find out more please email

The talks planned for 2020/1 are listed below.  However all activities of the Association are currently suspended in line with Government guidelines following the Coronavirus pandemic.  We do not know when our usual activities will be resumed but this website will be updated whenever anything changes.

Tuesday 22 September - Brian Freeland - View from the Wings

This talk developed from Brian's experiences with everything from variety (Butlins and the London Palladium) to the Royal Shakespeare Company, National Theatre, Scottish Opera and Sadler's Wells Ballet.  The stage manager's view from the prompt corner is very different to that from a comfortable seat in the Stalls or Circle. Reality theatre - no retakes, and 'slightly saucy'.  Brian's career started in 1959, direct from National Service, as a trainee manager at the London Palladium and it has taken him to 43 different countries including 3 residencies in the Middle East, 8 tours of the Indian sub-continent and around the globe twice.  Approaching retirement, he branched out into directing amateur dramatics, writing scripts and giving talks - and finally found time to write his long-promised autobiography called "Meanderings: a River and a Life".

Tuesday 20 October - Prof. Steven Gunn - Everyday Life and Accidental Death in Tudor Oxfordshire

Tudor England was a dangerous place.  There were plagues and wars, perilous childbirths and shocking infant mortality.  But what risks did people face as they went about their everyday lives?  Steven Gunn of Merton College and Tomasz Gromelski of Wolfson College are investigating this problem using evidence from coroner's reports preserved in the National Archives.  The four-year project entitled "Everyday Life and Fatal Hazard in Sixteenth-century England" is based in Oxford and funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, with support from the Faculty of History and Merton and Wolfson Colleges.  Steven is Acting Warden, Tutor in History and Professor of Early Modern History Research.

Tuesday 24 November - Prof. Jonathon Healey - Politics of the People in Tudor and Stuart England

It was in the Tudor and early Stuart periods that ordinary people really got involved in politics.  It was a world of political gossip, rumour, news and satire.  It gave us the first newspapers and the rise of the political petition.  It was an age of rebellion and riot when the power of the great and the good could rarely be taken for granted. This talk looks at how the English people became political, looking at everything from gossip and satire at the Royal Exchange to scandalous alehouse talk and even the political threat posed by angry words in courts of law. Jonathon Healey is Associate Professor of Social History at the University of Oxford and he is writing a book on the social history of seventeenth century England.

Tuesday 19 January - Dick Richards - The Road to Peace is Paved with Headstones

The work of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, its history and legacy.  Dick is a volunteer with the Commission and his talk describes the Commission's beginning, the design of its cemeteries and memorials, and its presence in Oxfordshire and the surrounding area.

Tuesday 16 February 2021 - AGM & Ruth Weinberg - Java Woman

Ruth will talk about her recent trip to Java and Bali.

Tuesday 16 March - Prof. Mark Harrison - From Sail to Steam: Health, Medicine and the Victorian Navy

Mark is a Professor of the History of Medicine at Oxford University and Co-Director of the Wellcome Centre for Ethics and Humanities.