Lectures are held in St. George’s Hall Blockley and start at 2.45 pm, refreshments are available after lectures

Wallis Simpson


Anne Sebba

‘That woman’ or the Duchess of style. Time to reassess Wallis Simpson

This lecture is based on at least three years of research into why this Baltimore woman was so demonised by the British establishment and wider commonwealth, accused of being a spy, prostitute or Nazi sympathiser, yet how, after she married the ex-King and became Duchess of Windsor, she turned her exile and hatred into a platform from which to launch herself as one of the world’s best dressed woman who entertained in the most elegant homes fit for a King – or an ex-King.Was she simply a clothes horse for dress designers and jewellery makers or did she have a heart that has never been fairly understood? Anne will also tell the story of how, in the context of the 1930s, this woman with three husbands was unacceptable as Queen of England and of the Empire. It is now time to reassess That Woman.

Anne Sebba is a biographer, historian and author who lectures to a variety of audiences in the US and UK. A former Reuters foreign correspondent, Anne is now a broadcaster and she regularly appears on television talking about her books, mostly biographies including Jennie Churchill, William Bankes, Laura Ashley and Wallis Simpson; the latter, published as That Woman, was an international bestseller. Anne is a former chair of Britain’s 9,000 strong Society of Authors.


Nigel Arch

Dear little Kew: the story of a surprising Royal Palace

The title recalls Queen Charlotte’s fondness for this, perhaps the smallest of royal palaces. As consort to George III, Kew Palace offered a private retreat for the queen and her daughters. It has a rich architectural history, ante-dating the King’s reign, having originally been built as a fashionable house by a Huguenot merchant. The royal narrative of the palace begins with Queen Caroline, wife of George II. Her achievements, and those of her eldest son Frederick Prince of Wales, are discussed in the context of the palace and the gardens. The palace as now presented largely reflects the occupation of George III and his family. The latter years of the King’s reign, blighted by his illness, also impacted on the building, threatening its survival.

Nigel Arch retired from his post as Director of the State Apartments at Kensington Palace in April 2012, having worked initially at the Palace as Curator of the Royal Ceremonial Dress Collection. Before that he was Head of the Department of Art at the National Army Museum and Keeper of Military History at the Castle Museum, York. Nigel has lectured in this country and the US and his most recent publications include the essay on uniforms for the West Europe volume of the Berg Encyclopaedia of World Dress. Nigel was appointed LVO (Lieutenant of the Royal Victorian Order) in 2008.

MONDAY 21 MAY 2018

Dr Annie Gray

To please the palate and charm the eye: 400 years of food as ephemeral art

This lecture looks at the art of cooking purely through its results upon the table. Using paintings, illustrations and photographs, we will go on a culinary journey from the late Tudor period to the mid 20th century, considering both how food presentation was influenced by the wider trends of each era, and how that presentation reflects notions of edibility through time. From delicate, moulded pies, to flamboyant stuffed turkeys with lobster tail wings, we’ll explore the idea of food as the ultimate in ephemeral art. Raw ingredients can be transformed beyond all recognition, their presentation agonised over for weeks with the result presented with an artist’s flourish – but within each dish is the recognition that its destiny is utter destruction. The lecture will be enhanced by the lecturer’s own experience in cooking historic food, and with pictures of her very real creations.

Dr Annie Gray is one of Britain’s leading food historians. She has degrees from Oxford, York and Liverpool, and is a research associate at the University of York. She works as a consultant on historic food for organisations such as the National Trust and Historic Royal Palaces, as well as training staff in live interpretation. Annie is the resident food historian on BBC Radio 4’s culinary panel show, The Kitchen Cabinet, and works on The Great British Bake Off and on James Martin: Home Comforts. She recently advised on, and co-presented, Victorian Bakers, a living history-based documentary for BBC2.


Ian Pickford

Dr Christopher Dresser and C R Ashbee: two opposing revolutions

During the 1880s and 1890s two remarkable and opposing developments took place. Both, for quite different reasons, failed at the time and yet both were to have a significant influence on what followed.We will first look at the remarkable ideas and designs of Christopher Dresser, who it may be said, was the first true industrial designer and who introduced the principals of functionalism into design. We will then go on to examine C R Ashbee and the development of the ‘Guild of Handicrafts’ which put into effect, for silver, the arts and crafts ideas introduced by William Morris.

Ian Pickford is a Freeman of the Goldsmiths’ Company and Freeman of the City of London. He lectures at the University of London, University of Surrey, the V&A, the National Trust, and the Art Fund. Ian broadcasts on both television and radio and is an author and editor of Jackson’s Silver & Gold Marks.