Select Page

Lectures 2015

Past Lectures (2015)

Here are the lectures of 2015.  Click on the title to read more and see links associated with the lecture.

You can also use the Calendar bar below to look at other programmes by selecting a specific date.


Recent Architectural Transformation of London
Jan 28 all-day
Recent Architectural Transformation of London

TIM Bruce-Dick, architect and lecturer, gave an illustrated lecture to the Limpsfield Decorative & Fine Arts Society entitled The Recent Architectural Transformation Of London.

Previous major reconstruction in London followed catastrophes like the 1666 Great Fire and the destruction in the Second World War. The current phase of redevelopment followed the financial  boom in London, starting in 1980. Society members were taken on an illustrated tour of new buildings in the capital: the 1985 Lloyds Building, No. One Poultry (1997), 88 Wood Street (2004), the Gherkin (2003), Heron Tower in Bishopsgate (2008), the Cheese-grater and the recently opened Walky-Talkie Building.

Many modern buildings are on sites near London railway stations. The 1980 Broadgate Square development near Liverpool Street has already been demolished to be replaced by new offices  for UBS. Exchange Square has been built over Liverpool Street and other major building schemes have taken place at Kings Cross, St Pancras, Paddington and Charing Cross. Additionally new buildings have been erected near St Paul’s, Canary Wharf, the Millennium Dome and Bridge, the Olympic Games site and the GLA Building on the South Bank.

Also mentioned were the new stations on the Jubilee Line, the new US Embassy, the Magazine in Hyde Park and the Great  Court of the British Museum.

Rubens Exhibition at the Royal Academy @ Royal Academy
Feb 6 @ 10:00 am – 2:00 pm
Rubens Exhibition at the Royal Academy @ Royal Academy | London | England | United Kingdom

This exhibition brings together masterpieces produced during his lifetime, and major works by later great artists who were influenced by him. We saw Ruben’s influence in the prints of Picasso and Rembrandt, the portraiture of Van Dyck, the hunting scenes and devotional works of Delacroix, the landscapes of Constable and Gainsborough. A remarkable legacy.

Symbolism and Sentimentality in Adornment and Personal Jewellery @ United Reform Church
Feb 18 @ 9:30 am – 2:30 pm

Study Day

Throughout time jewellery has been used as a form of expression to replace words.
On this Study Day Joanna took us back in time to observe these intimate moments when a jewel was passed between lovers and admirers to convey a very personal message. Jewellery has also been worn to represent status and wealth, and there have been times when it has been used to signal political aspirations and desires.

Members brought along their own jewellery that Joanna used as discussion items during this informative and enjoyable day.

Meet me at the Waldorf
Feb 25 all-day
Meet me at the Waldorf

Immortalised in Cole Porter’s lyrics ‘You’re the top! You’re a Waldorf Salad’, the Waldorf-Astoria New York was a glamorous home to international celebrities in the 1930s.

Mary Alexander gave an illustrated lecture to the Limpsfield Decorative & Fine Arts Society entitled ‘Meet me at the Waldorf’.

The first Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York opened on 5th Avenue in 1893.  Looking like a French chateau, it was built by the fabulously wealthy Astor family.  The interiors were those of a large country house, with sculptures, paintings and silver cutlery and plate.  The waiters spoke French and German and the menus were in French.  Ladies were allowed in the front door without escorts and could dine on their own.

However by the late 1920s, the area round the first Waldorf Astoria had become too commercial.  The site for the new Waldorf Astoria on Park Avenue was purchased in 1929 and the Empire State Building was developed on the site of the old hotel.  Despite the Crash, the new Waldorf was built rapidly and opened by President Herbert Hoover in 1931.  It was designed to attract Hollywood royalty as well as real royalty, with a secret underground entrance for those wishing to avoid publicity.  Residents included Greta Garbo, Cole Porter and Frank Sinatra.  The new Waldorf was in true Parisian Art Deco style, with the ‘Spirit of Achievement’ statue in the main entrance, diffused lighting, a magnificent staircase, as well as wall paintings and mosaics.  The interiors were widely photographed in films.

Mary Alexander trained as an art historian and graduated with a BA in History and History of Art and an MA with distinction in History of Art from University College London.  She is now a freelance lecturer to various arts, heritage and antiquarian societies.  Author of many articles on design and visual awareness, her background combines an unusual blend of academic and visual communications skills.

City Walking Tour with Tim Bruce-Dick @ London Bridge Concourse
Mar 13 @ 10:50 am – 3:30 pm

On a lucky Friday 13th architect Tim Bruce Dicks walked us around a collection of the new buildings that have so changed the London skyline. These included the towering Shard, the Tate Modern extension,across the Millennium Bridge to the extraordinary “Walkie Talkie” Garden Tower, and the jousting ground where our most famous architects Richard Rogers and Norman Foster compete with the inside-out Lloyd Building, the black spiralled Gherkin and the new ‘sharp on the eye’ Cheese Grater. We particularly enjoyed No.1.New Change Street squashed down by the planners to preserve the view of St Paul’s. It has a public panoramic roof top plaza with a great view of the totally unsurpassed cathedral. We all agreed that a walk is an excellent way to get to know each other.

David Whitmore


‘The Cheesegrater and the Walkie Talkie’ – photograph by John Nathan ARPS

Appearing to Advantage – The Art of Dining in Georgian England
Mar 25 all-day
Appearing to Advantage - The Art of Dining in Georgian England

Food is a brilliant way to get under the skin of past societies. Everyone eats and the choices we make reflect who we are and what we believe.  By exploring what was eaten, and by whom, how it was cooked and how it was consumed, we can explore a wide range of beliefs and behaviours.

Dr Annie Gray  food historian and TV presenter, wearing Georgian dress, gave an illustrated lecture to the Limpsfield Decorative & Fine Arts Society on ‘Appearing to Advantage – The Art of Dining in Georgian England’.

Georgian England was an era of elegant dinner parties but also of gin palaces, an age of enlightenment and progress, enclosures, steam engines and consumer goods, when shopping became popular.

Dining styles changed from the previous long tables and separated sexes.  Copied from France, men and women sat together at round tables on elegant dining chairs, with silver cutlery, including now popular forks and ceramic plates and dishes.  Kitchens could be magnificent as at the Royal Pavilion but normal kitchens contained a mid-room table, a dresser, a cooking range and roasting spits.  There were no mixers or whisks so a lot of pounding during preparation was necessary.  All parts of animals were eaten as well as exotic fruits, grown in heated frames and hothouses.

Following a variety of soups, there was a fish course and then roast meats.  Following the meal, the ladies withdrew and the gentlemen could over-indulge and use the chamber pot kept in a cupboard in the now popular sideboard.

Anniversary Spring Lunch @ St Peters Church Hall
Apr 10 @ 12:30 pm – 3:30 pm
Anniversary Spring Lunch @ St Peters Church Hall | United Kingdom


We were greeted with a glass of ‘Bubbly’ – the ideal way to open our 40th Anniversary Celebrations. The Chairman began with a toast to the Founders. He introduced two members of the founding committee of 1975, Mrs Daphne Mackay, our first secretary, and Mrs Kay Matthias whose husband David, our first treasurer, was also on the committee. Brian welcomed all of our early members, many of whom were in the room including our President, Mrs Pauline Hopkins, who gave a talk on the early years.

After an excellent lunch the lively atmosphere was enhanced by Sir Richard Stilgoe’s talk. He spoke about his early days and how he became aware of NADFAS in Liverpool through his mother, his rise to fame and how he founded the Orpheus Centre in 1998 in his former family home. He described how the Centre provides supported housing and uses a diverse curriculum of performing arts to develop independence, functional and life skills to over 40 young, disabled students between the ages of 18 and 25. By way of a finale Sir Richard played the piano with Angus Morton, once one of the students, singing a few songs (one of which was his own composition) in a beautiful tenor voice. We would all loved to have heard more.

Wendy Collett

Below are photos of the event taken by Ross Charlton a Society member.


[gallery link="file" ids="1161,1162,1167,1163,1164"]

Eltham Palace @ Eltham Palace
Apr 16 @ 11:00 am – 4:00 pm
Eltham Palace @ Eltham Palace | London | United Kingdom

First recorded in the Domesday Book, Eltham Palace was transformed by successive monarchs into the biggest Tudor and most visited Royal residence of its time. By the 18th century it was a picturesque ruin and painted by artists such as a young J.M.W Turner.

Whilst living at Eltham in the 1930s, Stephen and Virginia Courtauld – art collectors, travellers and philanthropists – built a series of magnificent Art Deco interiors, considered to be amongst the finest of their age. They were also keen horticulturists and the gardens are a rare and very fine example of 1930s garden design.

A new project will reveal hidden areas at this magnificent site, including rooms which will be opened to the public for the first time.

Bookings are currently being taken

British Neo-Romanticism between the Wars
Apr 29 all-day
British Neo-Romanticism between the Wars

Linda Smith, lecturer and gallery guide, gave an illustrated lecture to the Limpsfield Decorative & Fine Arts Society on ‘British Neo-Romantic Art’.

Covering the 1920 to 1955 period, Neo-Romantic Art was influenced by the work of the early 19th Century, Samuel Palmer, in turn a follower of William Blake.

Paul Nash, an official war artist in World War I, initially took little notice of new art movements but in the early 1930s recognised the conflict between landscape and surrealist art.  His work, such as ‘Druid Landscape’ (1934) draws on both movements.

Graham Sutherland was similarly influenced.  In his Pembrokeshire landscapes he used colours for emotional effect.  A war artist in World War II, he painted vivid images of destroyed buildings, manufacturing plants and mines.

John Piper worked in abstract art but at the same time produced landscapes, making collages of British seaside scenes.  A World War II war artist, he painted ruined churches and commissioned by the then Queen, he painted views of Windsor Castle against threatening skies, symbolising the threat of invasion.

Henry Moore is famous for his images of people sheltering from bombs in the London Tube.  Other Neo-Romantic artists include Ceri Richards, Cecil Collins and John Craxton.


Andalucia @ Andalucia
May 11 @ 8:00 am – May 16 @ 4:30 pm
Andalucia @ Andalucia

33 members very much enjoyed their tour of Moorish Spain organised by Wendy Collett. Our Tour Manager, Paul, the ‘Wikipedia of Andalucia’, gave a general background history, pointing out local features, including storks nesting on pylons and assisted  by the help of local expert guides in Granada, Cordoba, Seville and Ronda.
Highlights in Granada were the Alhambra Palace, which we visited when floodlit at night and ‘Generalife’ the Alhambra gardens next morning. Another memorable visit was to the Mesquita, a huge former mosque in Cordoba with a cathedral built in the middle of it. In Seville, we visited the Alcazare Palace, a largely Moorish building, still used occasionally as a royal residence and closed to visitors when the royal family decide to visit. Also in Seville, we saw the national pavilions of various countries, built for the huge Expo held just before the Wall Street Crash in 1929 and the Fine Arts Museum where some of us will remember the two retired Oxted doctors in our party rushing to examine the bust of the severed head of John the Baptist to see whether it was anatomically correct!

On the last day we did a walking tour of the atmospheric town of Ronda, built at the top of a deep ravine with fantastic views. There was a fiesta in progress with the locals dressed up in period costumes – a lovely finale to our trip.

Throughout the tour we enjoyed the blossoms of jacaranda, bougainvillea, oleander, pomegranate and many other trees and shrubs. We now look forward to next year’s LDFAS tour of Vienna.

Stuart Paterson

The photos below were taken during the tour by our member John Nathan.  To view the slideshow click on any image.

All photos on this page are © John Nathan ARPS


[gallery columns="4" link="file" ids="1264,1265,1266,1272,1271,1270,1269,1268,1267,1278,1277,1276,1275,1274,1273"]

Anniversary Dinner @ Reform Club
May 22 @ 4:00 pm – 10:15 pm
Anniversary Dinner @ Reform Club | London | United Kingdom

The Reform Club is one of the finest Victorian buildings in the country. It was designed in 1841 by Sir Charles Barry, who took his inspiration from Michelangelo’s Farnese Palace in Rome. A recent restoration of the decoration and paintings reveals the original glorious decorative scheme.
The Club had a major impact on the political, intellectual and literary life of Britain for a century following the Great Reform Bill of 1832.

We shall have a reception, dinner in the Library, some escorted tours of the mezzanine and a light-hearted talk by a former Chairman of the Club about its history, architecture, paintings and role in society.

This is a black tie dinner and we will be using tw0 coaches from St Peters Church Hall leaving at 4:00pm.  The coaches will leave the Reform Club at 10:15pm

Bookings are currently being taken


Henry Purcell, The English Orpheus
May 27 all-day
Henry Purcell, The English Orpheus

Peter Medhurst, an accomplished musician, gave an illustrated lecture and recital ‘Henry Purcell: The English Orpheus’
Henry Purcell had a similar status in the late 17th Century to Handel in the 18th Century.  He wrote many pieces to celebrate events and enjoyed a gift for melody and harmony.  Although a great composer, little is known about his life.  He was born in Westminster in 1759 into a musical family, as both his father and brother were keen musicians.  He was in royal service at an early age.  In 1674 he was appointed organ tuner at Westminster Abbey and from 1679 was the organist there.  He also taught the harpsichord and many of his works were composed for his students.  Peter Medhurst played and sang excerpts from various of Purcell’s compositions.
Only one portrait of Purcell (by John Closterman) is known to exist and other images are taken from this painting.  After his death at the early age of 36 in 1695 he was much missed by other musicians and friends.  Dryden wrote an ode on his death, put to music by John Blow.  Purcell surpassed his contemporaries and was admired by his peers as a leading Baroque composer.  After his death he became known as the ‘English Orpheus’.

Henry Purcell: Prelude for harpsichord (Suite No 2 in G minor) – played by Peter Medhurst

[audio mp3=""][/audio]