Tag Archives: meetings programme

Programme change for June 2022 meeting

Hubert Zawadzki’s talk, The Land of the White Eagle: The Story of Poland, which had to be cancelled at the last minute due to illness, will now be on Monday 13 June 2022 at 7.30 pm in Radley Church.

The talk by Liz Woolley, From Axtell to Zacharias: the men who built Oxford, which was originally scheduled for 13 June 2022 will now be on 14 November 2022.

January 2022 meeting: Romans in Oxfordshire

On 10 January, encouraging numbers of members and guests braved a dreich evening to hear Marie-Louise Kerr describe traces of the Romans in Oxfordshire.

Soon after their invasion in AD 43, the Romans established a fort at Alchester (near Bicester). Two wooden gateposts survived, which, from the pattern of the tree rings in their wood, could be dated to AD 44 or 45.

At the Museum of Oxfordshire in Woodstock you can see this tombstone of a legionary who died around AD50. ‘Lucius Valerius Geminus … of the Pollia voting tribe, from Forum Germanorum, veteran of the Second Augustan Legion, aged 50(?), lies here. His heir(s?) had this set up in accordance with his will.’

The most striking Roman site in Oxfordshire is the villa at North Leigh, probably started around AD100, and later hugely extended. You can see remains of hypocausts, and some beautiful mosaic flooring.

Other important Roman, or Romano-British, sites include Cholsey, Goring (where there was a villa with a cold plunge pool), Long Wittenham, and near Broughton Castle.

In answer to a question after her talk, Marie-Louise confirmed that Dorchester had been an important Roman settlement, but suggested that few traces of it have survived.

Reports of previous meetings

November 2021 meeting: The Harcourt Arboretum 1712-2014

One of Oxfordshire’s brightest botanical jewels

On 8 November Timothy Walker described the Arboretum’s history from (about) 1712 until 2014, the end of his stint as Director of the Oxford Botanic Garden and Harcourt Arboretum.

In 1710 Sir Simon Harcourt had acquired the Nuneham estate, probably as an investment. His grandson Simon, the first Earl Harcourt, decided to live there, and organized the removal of the then village to its present site along the main road. In 1777 he drowned while rescuing his favourite dog from a well. George, the second Earl, enthusiastically continued laying out the gardens near Nuneham House, with notable herbaceous borders and a new ornamental church (whose dome is prominently visible from several places in Radley).

The earldom died out, and the estate passed to Edward Vernon-Harcourt, archbishop of York, and, in 1861, to one of his sons, William Vernon Harcourt, a clergyman with a keen interest in chemistry. William, working with Charles Daubeny, professor of Botany at Oxford (and saviour of the Botanic Garden) began laying out the Arboretum, planting many oaks and limes, expensively imported redwoods, and rhododendrons along a serpentine path.

In 1904 the estate briefly passed to Sir William Harcourt, who as Liberal Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1894 had reformed and increased estate duties. They may have been a factor in his grandson Viscount Harcourt’s decision in 1948 to sell the estate to the University of Oxford.

Initially the University saw the land as a source of income from forestry. In the 1960s the University proposed to sell it. Cyril Darlington, Professor of Botany, had to campaign for the Arboretum to become an adjunct to the Botanic Garden. From then on the Arboretum has been continually improved and enriched, and now includes two colourful wildflower meadows and a richly stocked pond.

Timothy Walker illustrated his talk with pictures of favourite trees, and revealed some of his pet hates, including the resident feral peafowl, squirrels, and people who trample the bluebells in order to pick the white ones. He described a trip to Heathrow to collect some palm trees from David Mulholland.

In an answer to questions after his talk, Timothy Walker confirmed that the effects of climate heating are visible at the Arboretum in earlier springs and later autumns, and more frequent extreme events such as the great gale of January 1990.

Reports of previous meetings

Programme for 2021-2022 announced

All meetings are held at Radley Parish Church, Church Road, Abingdon OX14 2JN starting at 7.30 pm. Non-members are welcome – a donation of £2.50 is suggested.

Monday 13th September 2021 at 7.30 pm
Annual General Meeting followed by Radley in the 1930s and 40s – impressions from oral history
A presentation from the Club’s Oral History Group drawing on information from the ‘Radley Remembered’ series of interviews in the Club’s oral history recordings

Monday 11th October 2021 at 7.30 pm
The Land of the White Eagle: The Story of Poland

Speaker: Hubert Zawadzki
The talk describes the turbulent and complex history of Poland from its medieval origins to the present day. Dr Zawadzki, a former history teacher at Abingdon School and a member of Wolfson College Oxford, is the joint author of A Concise History of Poland and has appeared on BBC programmes involving Poland.

Monday 8th November 2021 at 7.30 pm
The Harcourt Arboretum: one of Oxfordshire’s brightest botanical jewels
Speaker: Timothy Walker
The Harcourt Arboretum at Nuneham Courtenay was founded in 1835 by the Harcourt family and annexed to the University of Oxford Botanic Garden in 1963. The talk looks at the 180-year history of the site and some of the highlights of the 130-acre Arboretum. Timothy is a former director of the Oxford Botanic Garden & Harcourt Arboretum.

Monday 10th January 2022 at 7.30 pm
Romans of Oxfordshire: Roman settlement and impact in the local area
Speaker: Marie-Louise Kerr
The talk covers the Roman invasion of Britain, life before and after the Romans arrived, and examples of Roman remains, archaeological finds, and sites of Roman occupation in Oxfordshire. Marie-Louise is an experienced museum curator caring for a wide variety of collections, and describes herself as ‘a curator without a museum’.

Monday 14th February 2022 at 7.30 pm
Oxford Preservation Trust – opening doors all year round
Speaker: Stephen Dawson
Stephen is the Operations and Development Manager of the Oxford Preservation Trust. In addition to organising the annual Oxford Open Doors weekend, the Trust is responsible for the management of various heritage sites and the protection of buildings and items of architectural significance in and around Oxford – work that never stops.

Monday 14th March 2022 at 7.30 pm
Poor Law in the 18th Century: the crisis in the parishes
Speaker: Deborah Hayter
The talk discusses the reasons for the increasing struggle by many parishes during the 18th century to pay the poor rate to growing numbers of poor people, and the variety of schemes they adopted to try to ‘balance the books’. Deborah is a tutor at Oxford University’s Department for Continuing Education, specialising in rural and landscape history.

Monday 11th April 2022 at 7.30 pm
Professors of Rowing’: The Early Oxford-Cambridge Boat Races
Speaker: Mark Davies
The talk details the early history of this famous and competitive event, highlighting the unusual alliance of Town & Gown in the crucial role played by the Thames’ watermen and boatbuilders in equipping and training the early Oxford crews. Mark is a local author and guide specialising in the history of non-university Oxford, with a particular focus on the city’s waterways.

Monday 9th May 2022 at 7.30 pm
Members’ interests
A chance for members to tell us about a person, place, event or object of interest to them which they’ve researched and wish to share their findings with us.

Monday 13th June 2022 at 7.30 pm
From Axtell to Zacharias: the men who built Oxford
Speaker: Liz Woolley
The talk examines some of the characters involved in the city’s enormous expansion during the Victorian period including builders, architects, property developers and landlords. Fortunes were made, reputations were lost, regulations were ignored, and political careers were boosted. Liz is a local historian specialising in aspects of Oxford and Oxfordshire, with a particular interest in the city’s ‘town’ as opposed to ‘gown’.

Monday 11th July 2022 at 7.30 pm
The Great Stink! Engineers, sewerage systems and the Victorian battle against dirt
Speaker: Tom Crook
The talk discusses the notorious ‘Great Stink’ of summer 1858 in London, its causes and the approach adopted to combat the problem. Tom is a Senior Lecturer in Modern British History at Oxford Brookes University.

August: No meeting

Monday 12th September 2022 at 7.30 pm
Annual General Meeting followed by:

Apples! The myth and mystery of England’s favourite fruit
Speaker: Tim Healey
Many fascinating facts are presented in this talk which has five themes: myths, the history of apples, apple rituals, working with apples, and local varieties. Tim is an Oxford-based writer, broadcaster and musician, making his third visit to the Club

July 2021 meeting cancelled

We had hoped to make our meeting on 12 July the first one face-to-face in Radley Church since March 2020. Unfortunately, this is now not possible as the Prime Minister announced yesterday that the remaining coronavirus restrictions will remain until 19 July and the speaker is unable to give his talk virtually by Zoom.

We very much hope to be able to resume our programme of speaker meetings in September.
See the Events Calendar for details