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Each month we have an illustrated lecture on an arts topic. In the recent past the topics have ranged from painting and ceramics to architecture and garden design – whatever takes our interest. We visit historic houses, gardens, art galleries and museums and hold study days when we want to look at something in more depth. We go on at least one cultural tour a year. Our goal is simple: to explore a wide range of subjects and enjoy ourselves in the process!
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One of the most derided towns in England, renowned for its dullness, Basingstoke is distinguished only by its numerous roundabouts and absurd Modernist architecture. Rupert explains that the post-war planners, who inflicted such features as ‘the Great Wall of Basingstoke’ on the town, were politically-motivated and bent on destroying all traces of its past. He reveals the nobler Basingstoke that is buried beneath the concrete, and the few historic gems that have survived the holocaust. Hilariously told, it is a story that neatly illustrates the ugliest episode in England’s architectural history. As Betjeman wrote prophetically, ‘What goes for Basingstoke goes for most English towns’.
Rupert Willoughby specialises in the domestic and social life of the past. He is the author of the best-selling Life in Medieval England for Pitkin and of a series of popular histories of places, including Chawton: Jane Austen’s Village. His most recent book – perhaps his greatest challenge to date – is Basingstoke and its Contribution to World Culture. Rupert has published numerous articles, contributes regular obituaries to The Daily Telegraph, writes histories of houses, occasionally broadcasts to the nation and is an experienced lecturer, whose repertoire ranges from the life and personalities of the Middle Ages to the world of Jane Austen.
Latest News & Reviews
This last newsletter of the year provides me with an opportunity to thank the large number of people who work so hard behind the scenes to make our Society the success that it is. I’ll single out Wendy Collett for some extra praise, as she puts this newsletter together for us every month. Well done Wendy!
While the first Christmas tree in the UK was organised by Queen Charlotte, wife of George III, the celebration on Christmas Day dates back to the birth of Mithras in pagan times.
There is a general view that Wallis was a grasping gold-digger but her parents came from well to do families. Her father died of TB when she was only 2 months old and her mother depended on Uncle Sol who paid for Wallis’s education.