Downend Local History Society


Talks Programme 2016 - 2017

NOTE: Meetings are now held on the third Tuesday of
each month from September to May.  Meetings start at 7.30 p.m.
We meet at Downend Folk House, Lincombe Barn, Overndale Road, Downend, Bristol BS16 2RW

20th September`               Frenchay Hospital’s Hidden History                                                       Alan Freke

                A Miscellany of facts that you probably didn’t know about, from its origins to the last days of operations.                      

18th October                       The Traditional English Longbow                                                              Hugh Soar

                A history of its use for hunting, warfare and peaceful relaxation.               Hugh Soar is an author and authority on                traditional archery and will illustrate his talk with antique and replica artefacts.                                                                                                  

15th November                 A History of Leigh court 1815-1915                                                           Murray Stewart 

Leigh Court, Abbots Leigh, is a Grade II* listed mansion in the Greek Revival style. Murray Stewart will tell us about the house during its ownership by the Miles family, from its being built for Philip Miles of Bristol by Thomas Hopper, to its sale in 1915.                                                                         

13th December                  Communicating Christmas (AGM)                                                          John Penny       

John will give us a visual and audio presentation covering the various way in which Christmas is communicated to us whether that be via TV, records, videos, film, cards or the Queen’s Christmas message. 


17th January                        Life and Death in two Victorian Workhouses                     Di Parkin & Rosemary Caldicott

Bedminster:  The true story of how the local community pulled together to uncover murder in the workhouse Eastville:  The history of life death and burial at 100 Fishponds Road

Both speakers are from Bristol Radical History Group

21st  February                     Let’s Send a Postcard                                                                                     Mike Britton

This talk starts with the introduction of postcards to Great Britain in 1870, the introduction of the commercially produced postcards and USA cards sent to the UK through the golden age at the turn of the century.  Postcards sent during WW1 include the backs showing many moving comments written by men in the line.  This is followed by a selection of Bristol now and then.  The talk concludes with familiar saucy postcards and also includes how postcards were produced to reflect social changes.

21st March                          Isambard  Kingdom  Brunel: I alone and hung in chains                  John Cooper

                                                (E M Lewis Memorial Lecture)

Tall hat, cigar, muddy trousers, massive chains: it’s a famous and powerful photograph, truly iconic.

 How revelatory is Robert Howlett’s photograph of Brunel’s life, work and personality?  How did it come about?

 How does it relate to other photographs and paintings of him and his immediate family?  Do his own writings

and the words of others suggest a different  Brunel? 


John uses his background as historian and art historian and years of experience lecturing in national museums, to discuss the authentic images in paintings and photographs, relating them to Brunel’s character and achievements, the development of his reputation, and the collection of the SS Great Britain Trust.


18th April                            Archive Evening                                                                                               Member’s Evening

(Summer Booking Night)


16th May`                             Village Witchcraft and Magic                                                                     Professor Ronald Hutton                                             (Summer Booking Night)

Prof Hutton is a leading authority on history of the British Isles in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, on ancient and medieval paganism and magic, and on the global context of witchcraft beliefs. Also the leading historian of the ritual year in Britain and of modern paganism. He is a Professor of History at Bristol University and appears regularly on television

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