The Spring programme commences on January 19th when Professor Lawrence Goldman addresses us on Reconstruction after the American Civil War 1865-77. This topic has proved popular with schools and prior to our meeting, Professor Goldman is addressing some 100 pupils at a local school. Engagement with schools and kindling an interest in history is central to the mission of the Historical Association. As George Orwell commented, “The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.”
February 18th sees us address a very topical and contentious issue:-the relationship between the French State and the Islamic community-a relationship overshadowed by the colonial legacy. We are fortunate that Dr. Ed Naylor, a rising star and recipient of a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship, is to address us. His original title was ‘ From ‘Je vous ai compris’ (de Gaulle) to Je suis Charlie. Now no doubt the Paris atrocities will loom large. His latest research project, supported by the Leverhulme Trust, explores how social work and ideas of marginality in France were reshaped by decolonisation. His publications include ‘“Un âne dans l’ascenseur”: Late colonial welfare services and social housing in Marseille after decolonisation’ in the journal French History which was awarded the 2013 SFHS article prize. Since joining Portsmouth Ed has published an article on the history of immigrant detention ‘Arenc: le premier centre de retention était clandestin’, Plein Droit, March 2015.
March 15th will see us escape from the trials and tribulations of the contemporary world to the classical period when Professor Roger Batty will give us a glimpse into life in Rome in the Age of Pliny. This address will be the world premiere of the results of his sabbatical year research. His magnum opus, “Rome and the Nomads: the Pontic-Danubian realm in antiquity” was published by Oxford University Press in 2007.Roger has been a Professor at Japan’s most prestigious private university, Keio, for twenty years. (Keio v Waseda is the Japanese equivalent of Oxford v Cambridge rivalry- I was briefly a student at Waseda.)
There will be a branch visit to the Foundling Museum, Bloomsbury, on the afternoon of Sunday, May 15th. This will include a guided tour of the Museum, which tells the fascinating story of the Foundling Hospital and its associations with Hogarth and Handel, followed by a concert in the Picture Gallery. Further details of the £8 tour will be available in the new year. If you would like to reserve a place or would like to know more please contact Tony Pratt on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our ‘Nigel Saul’ visit this year will be to a little known gem, the Kederminster Library at St Mary’s church, Langley, near Slough. This is a unique example of a parish library, and was founded in the 1630s by a local landowner for the use of the vicar and clergy of Langley. The books are kept inside shelved cupboards, the doors and joinery of which are all elaborately marbled, and painted with grotesques and views of Windsor Castle and other local landscapes. The library is maintained by a charity, and we will be shown round by the custodian. The church itself is full of interest, and I will say a few words about it. To the north and south of the churchyard are some attractive old almshouses. A few miles east of Langley is the celebrated village of Stoke Poges, where the attractive churchyard provided the setting for Thomas Gray’s poem, Elegy written in a Country Churchyard (‘The curfew tolls the knell of parting day …’). It may be possible for us to go onto this famous literary shrine after lunch. The visit will be on Saturday, June 11th, starting at 11 am, and a charge of £5 will be made, to go to the Kederminster library.
All meetings this year will be held at St. Nicholas’ Hall. As well as using email to contact our members, we are now also using Twitter please follow us at @HAWestSurrey and help to publicise the branch. Branch website www.historicalassociationsurrey.com
Chris Mitchinson (Chairman)