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History and Heritage

SPECIAL FOR 2019

“Victoria and Albert, Art and Love”

This lecture celebrates the 200th Anniversary of the births of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert who were first cousins and born just three months apart in 1819.  Their shared enthusiasm for art and music endured throughout the twenty-two years of their marriage and they demonstrated their love through the works of art and jewellery they gave each other for birthdays, Christmases and anniversaries. Victoria and Albert understood and appreciated paintings and sculpture more than any of their predecessors since Charles I. They furnished and extended Buckingham Palace, made significant changes to Windsor Castle and commissioned two other royal residences, Balmoral Castle and Osborne House. Theirs was a partnership of patronage by a monarch and her consort which is unique in the history of the British monarchy.  This lecture can be combined with my guided tour of the Albert Memorial and the 19th century section of the British Galleries in the Victoria and Albert Museum.

 

SPECIAL FOR 2020

“Gilt and Gorgeousness” - 200th Anniversary of the Accession of King George IV in 1820

The Collections and Residences of George IV

On coming to the throne in 1820 George IV instinctively understood the pomp and splendour appropriate to the monarch of the richest and most powerful country in the world.  This lecture traces his developing taste as Prince of Wales, Regent and King and examines connections between his royal residences as well as his spectacular legacy to the Royal Collection – the greatest by any monarch since Charles I.

This lecture can be followed by my guided tour of Windsor Castle.

 

WINDSOR

“Windsor Castle - From Medieval Fortress to Royal Palace” 
Hear about the history and development of Windsor Castle from the 11th century to the present day. This lecture can be linked to a guided tour of Windsor Castle.

“The New Camelot' - Edward III's Windsor Castle” 
Edward III was born at Windsor Castle in 1312 and was known as "Edward of Windsor". This lecture gives an account of how, using the proceeds of his successful wars in france, he set out to transform Windsor Castle from a battle-scarred fortress into a splendid fortified palace - "The New Camelot". this lecture can be linked to a guided tour of Windsor Castle.

“Britain's Lost Baroque Palace" - Charles' II's Windsor Castle
After his restoration to the throne in 1660 Charles II was determined to transform the long-neglected medieval royal apartments at Windsor Castle into a magnificent Baroque palace in the manner of Louis XIV's Palace of Versailles, and in doing so set a fashion which was copied in most of the great aristocratic houses of 17th century England. Charles also set out to recover as much as possibleof his father's superb collection of art and to revive the ceremonies of the Most Noble Order of the Garter.
This lecture focuses on the lost baroque interiors of Windsor Castle, all but three of which were swept away in the early 19th century, the scale and splendour of which were never to be achieved in England again, and also examines what remains of Charles II's Windsor Castle in the present day. The lecture can be linked to a guided tour of Windsor Castle and / or a Charles II - related walking tour of Windsor.


“Windsor - A Castle Restored” (The Fire of 1992 and the Restoration)
In 1992 the Castle suffered the most devastating fire in its 1000 year-old history. Hear the story of how the disaster of the firew was turned into a miracle of rebirth and restoration by some of the finest craftsmen in the country. This lecture can be linked to a guided tour of Windsor Castle.

"Windsor Great Park, Past and Present"
Windsor Great Park is the largest and oldest open space in the densely populated south-east of England and the most important site in north-west Europe of ancient oak trees. Its origins lie in the hunting forest of the Saxon and Norman kings. In the 18th century the Duke of Cumberland began the transformation of a section of the Park into his country estate. In 2006 1000 acres of the Park were designated "The Royal Landscape", including Virginia Water Lake and the Savill and Valley Gardens. This talk traces the development of the Park and its historic buildings from Saxon times to the present day and can be linked to a guided walk in Windsor Great Park, or a coach tour of the Royal Landcsape.
 

 

ROYALTY

"The Road to the Crown" - Britain and the Hanoverian Dynasty

This lecture explains how the ruler of a relatively small German state came to be crowned king of Great Britain in 1714 and examines the Personal Union between the two countries which lasted until 1837.  The royal residences and the cross-cultural transfer in art, music, literature and horticulture are all discussed.  An account is given of what the Hanoverian kings did for Great Britain, George IV’s spectacular visit as King of Hanover and finally what happened to Hanover when the Personal Union came to an end.

“Happy and Glorious - A Thousand Years of English Coronations”
This lecture looks at the evolution of the coronation ceremony from Saxon times. It examines the stages of the coronation, from the Proclamation through to the Homage and explains the significance of the different items of the Coronation Regalia. Finally it explains the coronation of Her Majesty The Queen, the first to be genuinely witnessed by the people through the medium of television. This lecture can be linked to a guided tour of Westminster Abbey.

 

OUR NATIONAL HERITAGE

“Celts, Art and Identity”

The Celts were a series of tribes sharing a similar language and occupying parts of Europe from the 8th to the mid 1st century BC.  Though Greek and Roman writers portrayed them as fearsome, barbaric warriors, their archaeological remains reveal an accomplished society whose metalwork shows a technical and artistic brilliance unsurpassed in prehistoric Europe.  This lecture can be followed by my guided tour of the British Museum’s Romano-British Collection.

“Vikings, Life and Culture”

This lecture explores the world of the Vikings – who they were, where they came from and their roles as raiders, traders and invaders, with special emphasis on the Viking settlement of Britain.  The lecture examines Viking life and culture, arts and technology, ships, burials, hoards and jewellery.  This lecture can be followed by a guided tour of the British Museum’s Romano-British galleries.

“The Taplow Burial”
In 1883 the churchwarden of St. Nicolas’ Church in Taplow, Buckinghamshire directed the excavation of the huge burial mound in the old churchyard with such incompetence that it would later be cited as the supreme example of how NOT to carry out an excavation! The mound contained the early 7th century burial of a warrior prince with the possessions to equip and entertain a band of followers in the afterlife, and a collection of treasures which were unrivalled until the discovery of the Sutton Hoo Burial in 1939. This lecture gives an account of this unorthodox excavation and the remarkable grave goods unearthed in the mound and compares them with those of the Sutton Hoo Ship Burial. The lecture can be linked to a guided tour of the Romano-British and Medieval Galleries of the British Museum.

“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.  Since then these different cultures have co-existed, changing as the social and political landscape changed.  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 stratum 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.

“The Great Fire of London 1666”

The Great Fire of London of 1666, which came only months after the Great Plague, devastated most of the City of London.  13,500 houses, 87 churches and 44 livery halls, as well as many public buildings, were destroyed within four days.  This lecture examines the devastation wrought by the fire, looks at the inspirational plans put forward for the rebuilding of the City and explains how the reconstruction which followed changed the face of London for ever.

The lecture can be linked to a guided walk following the path of the Fire, from its starting point in Pudding Lane to Pie Corner where it was eventually checked.  Old drinking houses hidden in narrow lanes, delightful churches built by Sir Christopher Wren after the Fire, the Guildhall and buildings constructed in the aftermath of the Fire are some of the features along the route.