2018-2019  LECTURES

The Lectures take place between 1st October and end of March, at Bethesda Church Hall, Gt. Norwood Street, CHELTENHAM, GL50 2AP at 2.30pm. on the FIRST Thursday of each month, and at Woodmancote School at 7.30pm on the THIRD Thursday of the month

The admission price for all meetings payable, on the door, £3 Members & £4 visitors. 

The Thursday afternoon meetings to remain at Bethesda Methodist Church Hall until further notice.

The Thursday evening meetings will be at Woodmancote School.

How to get to Woodmancote School

Woodmancote School is located in Station Road, Woodmancote, GL52 9HN.

Suggested directions from Cheltenham are either to:

Take the A435 Evesham Road, do not follow the by-pass round Bishop‘s Cleeve. Instead go into the village and right after passing the fish and chip shop onto Station Road. The school is on your right, after the railway bridge. If you reach the mini roundabout, you have gone too far.


Take the B4632 Prestbury Road towards Winchcombe. Ignore the turning to Southam and take the next turning on the left, about 200yards further on, signposted Woodmancote‘. This is New Road. Follow the road round past the old chestnut tree on your right into Station Road. The school is down the road, on your left, just past the mini roundabout. If you reach the railway bridge you have gone too far!

The entrance to the school car park is closer to the mini roundabout, the exit is closer to the railway bridge.


The programme of lectures for 2018-19 is as follows:


4th October              Bethesda            Newark Park                                            Stephanie van Stokkom

18th October            Woodmancote    Tasmania                                                  Frank Austin

1st November          Bethesda           The Gunpowder Plot                                  Vic Avis

15th November        Woodmancote    Regency Cheltenham                               Stephen Blake

6th December          Bethesda           Corfe Castle, Dorset                                  Pam White


3rd January             Bethesda           James Wyatt, Architect                                Helen Roberts

17th January           Woodmancote    Looking at Pictures                                     Simon Trapnell

7th February           Bethesda            BBC Naturewatch at Sherborne Estate      Simon Nicholas

21st February         Woodmancote    The Siege of Gloucester, 1643                    Ted Wilson or Paul Drinkwater

7th March               Bethesda            National Star College                                   Sally Gillespie

In connection with this talk, the Star College has invited members and friends to a tour of the College on 19 March, 2019. The details of this outing are here.


Lecture reports


Report on the lecture on Tasmania, Thursday, 18 October

On Thursday 18 October at  Woodmancote School, Frank Austin‘s talk on TASMANIA.

Our first talk in our new premises, cleverly found for us by Jan Turner.  31 people attended, and we were a bit squashed.  However, I enjoyed Frank‘s talk all over again, having heard him at Probus.  He is a very skilled photographer, and I particularly liked the wildlife shots of beautiful birds.  His description of taking a shortcut through the bush sounded quite hair-raising.  He had to walk in front of the four-by-four to make sure they weren‘t heading for a ditch.  His relative is a miner, so drove him many miles into the zinc mine, where they also find small quantities of gold.  Seems a very civilised way to mine compared to the olden days‘.

Julph Miers


Report of the lecture on 1 November, 2018

The Gunpowder Plot 1605: Vic Avis

Vic took us right back to Henry VIII and the Reformation.  Henry remained Catholic at heart, although there were Protestant stirrings all over Europe.  A cause for resentment was the fee for every birth, marriage, funeral which went to the Pope.  Edward VI and his Protector were strongly Protestant, but he only lived 6 years, and Mary reverted to Roman Catholicism, executing 300 Protestants during her reign.  Elizabeth wanted a simple, plain Protestant church.  When Mary Queen of Scots arrived in 1567, Elizabeth became threatened, especially when the Pope issued a Papal Bull excommunicating her and telling English Catholics they would be excommunicated if they remained loyal to her.  Many tribulations and plots followed.  
James I took three months to travel south, meeting Thomas Percy, and promising clemency for Catholics. He knighted Sir Everard Digby who later became one of the plotters.  The Privy Council were strongly against clemency, so no laws were repealed, but the harsh treatment was relaxed.  The Council became worried when they realised how many Catholics there were, and the laws were reimposed, and even some new ones passed.  

For the next two years more Catholics joined the plot, until there were 13.  The catalyst was an anonymous letter to Lord Monteagle, a hereditary, Catholic peer, warning him to stay away from Parliament.  He gave the letter to Robert Cecil, Lord Salisbury, who remained inactive until he took it to the King, pretending not to understand it.  Parliament was searched twice, the first time they failed‘ to find anything but, at 1.00 am on November 5th, they discovered Guy Fawkes in the cellar, surrounded by the 36 small barrels of gunpowder.

The rounding up of the plotters took some years.  Had they succeeded, they intended to kidnap the 8-year-old Princess Elizabeth, marry her to a Catholic and put her on the throne.  She married, being known as the Winter Queen‘ of Bohemia, her son was Prince Rupert of the Rhine, but her grandson was King George I.

I have had to greatly shorten Vic‘s very interesting talk, cutting out all the machinations and movement following the discovery of the plot.

Julph Miers


                                              The Lectures Sub-Committee at work.

When your list of lectures comes through in your newsletter every year please give a thought to the hard-working members of the Centre’s lectures sub-committee. This seven-member subcommittee ably
chaired by Jan Turner, organise, arrange and run the lecture series for the benefit of members on a
completely voluntary basis.
They are fortified only with copious cups of tea or coffee and a substantial supply of quality biscuits provided free of charge by the host.
The meeting this September reviewed progress and details of the organisation for the coming season’s lectures and tried to anticipate possible problems. It seeks to ensure that speakers arrive, are properly introduced, looked after and paid. Critically the sub-committee tries to ensure that the audiovisual equipment arrives in a working order, the pay desk is manned and that the key for the premises is collected and returned. Additionally, some of the committee members have the responsibility of the storage and carriage of the equipment to the two venues.
The meeting in November concentrates on the choice of speakers. That is followed by sometimes tortuous attempts to contact them and sort out availability. This follows a strict procedure written by the subcommittee Minute Secretary and endorsed by the sub-committee members. Subsequent meetings monitor progress and identify issues arising during the season.
During the long summer break, they are busy ensuring that lecturers will turn up, have all the equipment required and that the publicity is provided for the newsletter, website and the 'What’s On' section of Radio Gloucestershire

Recently innovations by the sub-committee are a request for voluntary contributions for the refreshments on the Thursday evening lectures; investigation of the hearing loop and audio equipment systems in both venues and the introduction of a free guest pass for members to invite non-members to one of the evening series of talks.  All this is intended to give good quality lectures at a reasonable charge of £3. 

 The photo below was taken at the September meeting shows Peter Walker, Jan Turner, (chairman), June Stroud, Julph Miers and Ann Nye. Bill Cronin was hiding behind the camera and Duncan Reid had sent his apologies.     


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