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Historical Society - archive 2019

Thursday 18 April 2019

Annual General Meeting followed by Tales from the riverbank – Past life in the Ouse Valley


Speaker Ian Everest is returning to the society to speak about some of the less well-known aspects of life in the Ouse valley between Lewes and the sea, including agricultural, industrial, aviation, sporting and artistic heritage. His talk is illustrated by use of old photographs and cine film.


Ian was previously the Manager of Newhaven Fort and the Town Clerk for Newhaven. Ian’s family have farmed the area for many generations and he is an enthusiastic local historian.

Thursday 16 March 2017 at 7.30pm


Hearth & Home - Dr Geoff Mead


Dr Geoffrey Mead MA, PhD, is a regular visitor to our Society.  He specialises in landscape studies and local history, and his previous talks to us have included his PhD subject, a critical survey of interwar housing development around Patcham.  This evening he looks at how the geology of Sussex has influenced the county’s vernacular building styles.

Thursday 16 March 2017


Hearth & Home - Dr Geoff Mead


Dr Geoffrey Mead MA, PhD, is a regular visitor to our Society.  He specialises in landscape studies and local history, and his previous talks to us have included his PhD subject, a critical survey of interwar housing development around Patcham.  This evening he looks at how the geology of Sussex has influenced the county’s vernacular building styles.

Thursday 18 May 2017


A Short History of Shoreham Airport. Speaker: Peter Fellows


Shoreham Airport – now officially Brighton City Airport, claims to be the oldest in the UK, with records of flights dating back to 1910. It has played an important part in the history of flying in the UK, from the early pioneering days, to the romance of the inter-war years, to its role in WWII. Its Art Deco terminal building is a noted listed building. Historical Society committee member Peter Fellows held a private pilot’s licence for 25 years and has been a volunteer guide at the airport for the past 20 years, so he is well equipped to give us his insights into this piece of aviation history on our doorstep.

The Pilgrim Path. Speaker: Kevin Gordon

The area around Berwick and Alfriston includes a wealth of footpaths and a number of ancient churches. Based on an initiative by St Michael and All Angels Church, Berwick, a new circular walk has been created, linking together seven of these churches, and other places of historic significance, to form a Pilgrim Path. Kevin Gordon will give an overview of this exciting new project. A keen local historian, Kevin is Chairman of our Society, Honorary Historian for Seaford and a trustee of Seaford Museum.

Thursday 21 September 2016


Gideon Mantell: The Dinosaur Hunter of Lewes. Speaker: Roy Hale


Ray Hale is a natural historian, wildlife photographer and entomologist who has travelled the world finding, photographing and helping to save some of the most endangered species on the planet. He is fascinated by the historical figures to whom we owe our understanding of the natural world, and this evening he tells us the story of Gideon Mantell, whose house in Lewes High Street can be seen today. In 1822  the then young doctor chanced upon a strange object, which he recognised as the fossilised tooth of a mighty creature new to science. Thus began the journey that would see Gideon Mantell become a famous writer and lecturer, but also a man whose life was tinged with scientific rivalry, family misfortune and a crippling accident which ultimately led to his premature death.

Thursday 23 November 2017
Witches, Warlocks & Wellingtons: The Ritual Protection of the Home. Speaker: Janet Pennington


These days we may be sceptical about the practical value of a horseshoe over the door, but our ancestors used many objects to protect themselves from harm, or to bring good luck to their homes and families, while anyone suspected of witchcraft risked paying with their lives. Janet Pennington’s talk looks at some of the ways people protected themselves and their homes from evil, and some of the items they used will be on display.


Janet is a historian with a PhD in Sussex inn and tavern history. She has worked as archivist at Lancing College and taught local history and palaeography at the Centre of Continuing Education at the University of Sussex.

Thursday 20 April 2017 

Annual General Meeting followed by: Sussex on Film. Presenter: Mick Hymans

Retired bus driver Mick Hymans is an enthusiastic collector of old cine film and over the years has assembled a unique collection of amateur footage from all parts of the world. His archive boasts over 2000 reels of film dating back to the 1920s, and he is particularly interested in film featuring 

Thursday 22 June 2016


Mid Summer Event


Our Mid Summer Event this year invites you to an audience with that towering figure of English history, King Henry VIII, impersonated by historian and professional actor Tony Harris.

In 2009, Tony defeated thousands of other candidates to become a reincarnation of the larger than life Tudor monarch, living at Hampton Court and appearing to visitors in authentic costume. Before taking up the role, he underwent three months of training, and had to agree to keep his weight above eighteen stones. After three years living the role and acting as a knowledgeable guide at Hampton Court, he decided to strike out on his own, and since then has presented his Henry VIII at Warwick Castle, Wembley Arena, and at hundreds of other locations around the country. Tonight, we will have the opportunity to learn from the “King’s” own mouth about Henry’s lifelong quest to produce an heir to the throne, and the six wives who were caught up in this quest.


King Henry’s talk will be preceded by our usual mouth-watering summer buffet supper, and the chance to enjoy a drink with fellow members and guests.


Advance booking is essential for this popular evening. Tickets will be on sale at the AGM on 20th April and afterwards from Steamer Trading Cookshop, Alfriston (01323 870055) at £15 per person. Wine and soft drinks will be available from a cash bar all evening.

Thursday 19 October 2017 
The Healey Memorial Lecture


Introduction: Edna Healey, as remembered by Margaret Willes


Ms Willes has spent her life in publishing, was publisher for the National Trust and an author in her own right. She published Edna’s books over many years and became a close personal friend.


A History of Jewellery from Elizabeth I to Elizabeth Taylor. Speaker: John Benjamin


John Benjamin will be known to many members as a long-standing contributor to BBC Television’s ever-popular Antiques Roadshow. His career has taken him from celebrated Bloomsbury jewellers Cameo Corner to Phillips Fine Art Auctioneers, where he became International Director of Jewellery, and, since then, to running his own independent jewellery consultancy, where his roles include valuer, historian, lecturer and author. He is a Freeman of the Goldsmiths’ Company, Freeman of the City of London and a Fellow of the National Association of Goldsmiths’ Institute of Registered Valuers. His knowledge of jewellery both antique and modern is encyclopaedic and he is widely respected in the jewellery world. This evening he will share with us his expert knowledge with a trip through the history of jewellery from the time of Elizabeth I to that of equally famous jewellery lover, Elizabeth Taylor. His presentation will cover many of the key elements of jewellery manufacture, including the progress of diamond cutting, Neo-classisism, Romanticism, Art Nouveau, Art Deco, Post War Modernism and much more.

(NB This is a ticket only occasion, and members will be given the opportunity to obtain tickets for themselves at the Mid-Summer Event before they are offered to the public.)

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