10th January

Bertie Pearce

The Punch and Judy Show

Mr Punch is the most famous puppet character of all time. His comic irreverence gave “Punch” magazine its title. His anarchic vitality has inspired opera, ballet and punk rock and his enduring popularity has seen his likeness on goods ranging from Victorian silverware to computer video games. Appearing in England in 1662, Punch is descended from the Italian Clown Pulcinella of the 15th C Commedia Del’Arte tradition. Even today this Lord of Misrule uses his slapstick to dispense with oppressive authority, be it politicians, political correctness or the devil, while proclaiming his notorious refrain; ‘That’s the way to do it!”

14th February

Peter Medhurst

Vivaldi in Venice

Vivaldi is the one Baroque composer whose music is a direct reflection of the city in which it was composed. Listen to a Vivaldi concerto and hey presto you are transported directly to the heart of 18th century Venice - Vivaldi’s passion for colour, display and spectacle in his music; the unusual way in which Venice solved its problems with the poor and the homeless; Vivaldi’s health problems and his eccentricities as a man and a priest. Against the luxurious backdrop of 18th century Venice, and with live musical performances, this lecture explores the amazing world of Vivaldi’s music - music that is as intrinsically Venetian as the canvasses of Canaletto.. 

14th March

Linda Smith

Augustus John and Gwen John

Augustus and Gwen John were brother and sister, born in the west of Wales in the 1870s. Both studied at the Slade School of Art in London. His work has been called brash and shallow, and hers dismissed as fussy and spinsterish. These assessments are not really fair to either artist, and this lecture takes a careful look at their lives, up to the point of Gwen’s death in 1939. At that time, she had no public reputation whatsoever, and her brother was enjoying enormous professional and critical success. By the time he died, however, the positions had been reversed. 

10th April

Anne Haworth

Legendary Porcelain Collectors:

Princes, Power and a Passion for Fragile Beauty

This lecture begins with the 1710 invention of porcelain at Meissen, close to Leipzig, under the patronage of Augustus the Strong, the self-styled sufferer of ‘la maladie de porcelaine’ and concludes with the sophisticated, wealthy and discerning porcelain collectors living in Berlin, Hamburg and Dresden, who fell victim to the seismic political events of the 1930s and 40s.   Madame de Pompadour’s taste for sumptuous porcelain was shared by George, the Prince Regent, Edward ‘Beau’ Lascelles, whose collection is still at Harewood House, the Rothschilds - including Baron Ferdinand at Waddesdon Manor, John Jones, a Victorian tailor and businessman, and American captains of industry including Henry Ford II and Mrs Charles Wrightsman, patron of New York’s Metropolitan Museum, who furnished their grand houses in ‘le goût Rothschild’.

9th May

Nicholas Henderson

The English Country Church:

Pre Christian to the Tudors

It is possible to ‘read’ the passage of time, of movements, cultures and peoples in the architecture and art forms evident in many of our older English country churches. This lecture takes us from the pre-Christian era, through the arrival of the Romans and onwards to the sixteenth century and the epoch changing Tudors. Simple indicators are given how to identify churches with Roman and Saxon origins. The great flowering of Romanesque and gothic architecture that followed the invasion of the Normans in the eleventh century are explained with illustrated examples. Onwards into the high Middle Ages and the tumultuous changes of the Reformation we can see the architectural and structural evidence of a period of great change.

13th June

Caroline Walker

Discovering MacDonald Gill:

architect, artist and mapmaker

My great-uncle MacDonald 'Max' Gill (1884-1947), was an architect and graphic artist, best known for his decorative maps. Although well-known in his time, he was all but forgotten after his death unlike his brother Eric Gill, the controversial sculptor. Recently there has been a massive resurgence of interest in Max's work - the result of talks and exhibitions including Out of the Shadows: MacDonald Gill (2011) hosted by the University of Brighton and articles in publications including Country Life, the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, and the Journal for the International Map Collectors Society. I'm currently writing a biography and I run the MacDonald Gill website.

11th July

Eileen Goulding

Exploring Ancient Egyptian Art

Egypt has a wealth of artefacts dated to its ancient past that today can be classified as art. This lecture examines several genres; the splendid wall reliefs and paintings found in tombs, the progressive styles of pottery and the beautiful, symbolic jewellery of ancient royalty, drawing on examples from the Old, Middle and New Kingdom Periods. It identifies the techniques, materials and different styles used by their accomplished artisans to achieve the beautiful paintings,reliefs and artefacts we can still see today, thousands of years after the Egyptian society flourished. We will also explore the inherent meaning of the artistry.  

12th September


10.30am Mary Rose Rivett-Carnat

Art UK:

Uncovering the nation’s hidden oil painting collection

Art UK was set up to catalogue every oil painting in public ownership in the UK. This unique and ambitious project involved visiting 3,000 collections across the country and photographing over 212,000 paintings. These paintings are reproduced in an acclaimed series of hardback catalogues entitled Oil Paintings in Public Ownership.

The paintings are freely available to view on the Art UK website ( The lecture offers an insider’s view of the project and describes some unusual collections visited, intriguing paintings uncovered, detective work involved and assistance given by the Arts Society members.

10th October

Lois Oliver

Tailoring the image:

Costume and accessories

Clothing and accessories play a highly significant role in many works of art. For artists, luxury fabrics, fine lace, embroidery and jewellery have provided a showcase for their virtuosity, while also conveying fascinating messages about the figures depicted, their aspirations and relationships. Based on the latest research, this lecture explores the significance of everything from armour to silk slippers in masterpieces from the National Gallery collection. Ranging from 1500 to 1900, it features outstanding works by such masters as Bellini, Moroni, Hals, Van Dyck, Gainsborough, Ingres and Renoir. The lecture is illustrated with stunning close-up details from the paintings and surviving historic costumes.

14th November

Roger Askew

The origins of our English Christmas

The origins of our English Christmas stretch far back into European history, combining the pagan traditions of the Roman and Scandinavian winter festivals.  Only in the 4th century AD did the Christian Church start to celebrate the birth of Christ. Music, art and folk customs associated with the season have all evolved, producing a rich tapestry of imagery and events that have appealed to every strata in our society.This lecture explores in words, images and music the various strands, pagan and religious, that have created the one festival in our country that touches everyone. 



Wednesday 7th February

National Theatre, London.

Peter Shaffer’s Amadeus returns after sell out performances and excellent reviews. This trip was announced prior to programme publication. Ticket sales are now closed.

Thursday 1st March

Royal museums of Greenwich, London.

Set in beautiful Greenwich park and part of the Maritime Greenwich World Heritage site. We will have private guided tours of the National Maritime Museum and the Queen’s House. Lunch will be included in the Brasserie with free time to explore independently.

Thursday 17th May

Chawton, Hants. Jane Austen Day. TBC.

We hope to visit Chawton Cottage, Jane Austen’s former home and now a museum, and Chawton House Library and gardens where her brother Edward lived. It is now a centre for women’s writing. Possible walking tour of Chawton.

Thursday 21st June

Leeds Castle, Kent

Leeds castle has been a Norman stronghold, the private property of six medieval queens, a palace used by Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon, a Jacobean country house, a Georgian mansion and an early 20th century retreat for the influential and famous. We will have an independent audio tour of the castle and a private tour of the gardens. Lunch is included in the oak beamed Fairfax Hall.

Thursday 19th July

Brighton Royal Pavilion, Sussex

A day at the seaside. The Royal Pavilion is an exotic palace with a colourful history. Built as a seaside pleasure palace for King George IV this historic palace mixes regency grandeur with the visual style of India and China. We will have a private tour plus a combined ticket for access to the art gallery and museum nearby.There will be free time to explore further.

Thursday 20th September

Ely, Cambs.

Ely Cathedral with its unique 14th century octagonal lantern tower is one of the marvels of the medieval world. Much of the cathedral is over 900 years old and offers a architectural history including the sumptuous 13th century Quire and 14th century Lady Chapel. A private guided tour of the cathedral and a walking tour of the historical city of Ely. Possible visit to Oliver Cromwell’s house.



1st March 2018

The start of our guided tour of the museum

Under the Cutty Sark
The Queen's House, overlooked by Elizabeth II
The Tulip staircase in the Queens House