Online Events


·        Are your group not keeping in touch at moment?

·        Are you an independent member who would like to have contact with other members?

·        Is no-one in your group willing to try Zoom?

Then join us!

Some of our experienced members have volunteered to run some group Zoom meetings for members who do not have this option elsewhere. These meetings are open to members anywhere in the country, members who are affiliated to a local group as well as independent members. If you are missing out on group discussions then we would love to see you!

Numbers will be limited to 10 for each meeting (including the host) to allow for discussion.  The latest programme runs from Wed 25th November to Friday 26th Feb 2021.  For more info log in.

Each week will have 2 sessions on the same theme - Wednesdays 7.30 - 9pm and Friday afternoons 2.30 - 4pm.





For booking links, please log in and click on the INFORMATION FOR MEMBERS tab and then QUIZZES AND TALKS

*Note for members* - booking information will be emailed to all members with an email and subscribed to our mailing list.   


28 January 2021 (7 - 8.30pm) 

Miniature Adults? Images of Children in Western Art    

Following on from her hugely successful talk for us about images of Mary Magdalene, Dr Sophie Oosterwijk will now speak to us on the topic of Miniature Adults? Images of children in western art.  

Looking at early child portraits we often see only miniature adults dressed stiffly in adult-like clothes. Yet what can portraits by artists such as Rembrandt or Velázquez really tell us about children in the past?

Recognizing the (artistic) conventions behind these images may help to discover more about childhood throughout history, and about social expectations.

This lecture will challenge our preconceptions by showing how children were presented in art from Antiquity up to the present – and why.  


Thursday 4th February at 7pm

Gendered Harm in Asylum with Dr Vicky Canning

Britain is often heralded as a country in which the rights and welfare of survivors of conflict and persecution are well embedded, and where the standard of living conditions for those seeking asylum is relatively high. Drawing on a decade of activism and research Dr Vicky Canning contends that, on the contrary, conditions are often structurally violent.

For survivors of gendered violence, harm inflicted throughout the process of seeking asylum can be intersectional and compound the impacts of previous experiences of violent continuums. The everyday threat of detention and deportation; poor housing and inadequate welfare access; and systemic cuts to domestic and sexual violence support all contribute to a temporal limbo which limits women’s personal autonomy and access to basic human rights.

Dr Vicky Canning has spent over a decade working on the rights of women seeking asylum. She is interested in support for survivors of sexual violence and torture across NGOs and migrant rights organisations, and in mitigating border harms. She is currently a senior lecturer in the school for policy studies at Bristol University.


Thursday 11th February at 6pm

Poetry Breakfasts and More with Marion Molteno and Anna Dreda 

Anna Dreda, founder of the Wenlock Poetry Festival talks to our patron, Marion Molteno, about running an independent bookshop & encouraging a community of local poets.


Thursday 18th February at 7pm

Cross Dressed to Kill: Women who disguised themselves to fight with Vivien Morgan

Vivien Morgan is a former ITV News Journalist and Documentary Producer, who picked up a camera to become a TV Video journalist pioneer. Travelling undercover she reported from the closed Communist countries, from Tibet and Myanmar and later from much of Sub-Saharan and West Africa as well as the Middle East and Iran.
Her fascination with historic young women who cross-dressed in the 17th-20th centuries came from her own experience of what it meant to hide your identity to get your story, but not going as far as swapping skirts for trousers and signing-up for the army to fight! Fascination turned into research and ended up with a book to commemorate them

This talk is based on her book ‘Cross-dressed to Kill- women who went to war disguised as men’ which is a unique collection of illustrated stories by women cross-dressers of English, Irish, French, Prussian, Russian, Spanish, American and Israeli nationalities.  It tells of how and why hundreds of extraordinary young women dressed as men to fight as soldiers in the 17th to 19th centuries. Vivien has songs, poems and a list of women to be remembered and included in our telling of history.
You can buy the book on Amazon
Or from Waterstones


Thursday 25th February at 7pm

A Nice Cup of Tea: A Potted History of Tea With Sandy Leong

This is the first in a series of talks from Sandy related to our everyday commodities and their fascinating histories. 
The British answer to any problem or crisis (and certainly for me!) is often a cup of tea. If you have had a shock or an upset someone will make you a nice cup of tea. But how did the British love affair with tea start? It is a fascinating tale of adventure, taxes, criminality, temperance, rationing and a morale booster in World War I and II; and of a Duchess who established the ritual of afternoon tea.  


Thursday 4th March at 7pm

Fashion, Fury and Feminism: The origins of the RSPB with Tessa Boase

Victorian campaigner Emily Williamson was so incensed by the millinery trade’s use of plumage that she invited her friends to tea ⁠— and persuaded them to sign a pledge to wear no feathers. The all-female group called itself the Society for the Protection of Birds ⁠— “a very ambitious title,” noted The Times, under the headline “Birds and Bonnets.” The year was 1889, and the fashion for feathers was reaching a terrible crescendo.

The story of the RSPB’s unstoppable growth (its ‘R’ for Royal Charter granted in 1904) is, of course, history.

Except that it isn’t. Because the writers of history then chose to ignore, or suppress, or even reinvent the remarkable fact that the British bird conservation movement had female founders. The ladies behind this society got none of the credit. Emily (along with the other ladies who contributed) survives in the annals as a faceless name, and that is all.

When social historian Tessa Boase told the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds she wanted to write their early story, they refused to let her visit their archives. To a former investigative journalist, this was a challenge she could not resist . . . This lecture shines a light on the intriguing story of women’s love affair with plumage – and of the brave eco feminists who fought back on behalf of the birds. Moving from a polite Victorian tea party to an egret hunt in a Florida swamp; from a suffragette ‘monster rally’ to a milliner’s dusty workshop, you’ll be taken back in time to a world where every woman, of every class wore a hat. 


Thursday 11th March at 6pm

'Our Lives': Shaping Inspiring Stories with Marion Molteno and Mary Simpson

Mary Simpson, teacher of English to adults, talks to our patron, Marion Molteno about supporting people to write their own stories.  Please note that this is a change from the originally planned interview, The art of translating fiction.


Thursday 18th March at 7pm - Shame  

A Talk from Jasvinder Sanghera CBE

I feel extremely lucky to be able to bring you this talk from such a high profile and amazing woman.

Jasvinder Sanghera CBE. A survivor of a forced marriage, she is the founder of Karma Nirvana, a national award winning charity that supports both men and women affected by honour based abuse and forced marriages. She is a highly acclaimed international speaker and an expert advisor to the courts in matters of child, civil and criminal proceedings.

Jasvinder’s memoir ‘Shame’ was described in the House of Lords as a ‘political weapon’ and, along with ‘Daughters of Shame’ are Sunday Times Top 10 Bestsellers. In 2018, she was awarded Honorary Doctor of Law by De Montfort University, Leicester, and Woman of the Year by Leeds City Council and in 2019, she was awarded the Robert Burns Humanitarian of the Year Award and also the Sikh Woman of Substance Award.

Jasvinder is recognised as bringing the issue of forced marriage into the public domain and Prime Minister David Cameron stated that her work ‘turned my head on the issue of forced marriage’.


Thursday 25th March at 7pm

 Mocha, Latte and the Wine of Araby with Sandy Leong

This is the second talk in our series about everyday commodities and their fascinating histories with Sandy Leong

Mocha, Latte and the Wine of Araby: A short history of our love affair with coffee

In the 17th century it was believed that coffee had medicinal properties; In 1600 Pope Clement gave his permission for Catholics to drink it; the first Coffee House opened in England in the mid 1600’s.; Our love affair with the coffee bean goes back several centuries, before becoming a popular drink on the high street.  


Thursday 22nd April at 6pm 

Food, Poverty and Children with Marion Molteno and Anna Taylor

Anna Taylor, director of the Food Foundation, talks with our patron, Marion Molteno, and shares her story of campaigning to ensure children are not hungry.


Thursday 6th May at 7pm

Food of the Gods - When chocolate was worth more than Silver with Sandy Leong

This is the third in our series of talks about everyday commodities and their amazing histories with Sandy Leong.

The Aztecs believed that cocoa seeds were a gift from the god of wisdom. The Spanish took the bean back to Spain in 1528 and kept its’ source a secret. By 1520 chocolate had arrived in England and the first Chocolate House opened in 1657. The Quakers were instrumental in making it popular, the Swiss refined it; and now we can’t seem to do without it! The God of wisdom gave us chocolate – not sure if that was a wise move or not......


Thursday 13th May at 7pm

Artists and the Theatre with Jo Mabbutt

For painters and sculptors the theatre exerts an irresistible pull. Scenery flourished from the Renaissance - artists Leonardo da Vinci, and Raphael produced designs and devices for plays, fêtes and masques, the sculptor Bramante brought perspective to the stage. For the early Stuart court Inigo Jones devised evocative designs for court ballets.

Serge Diaghilev commissioned over 20 avant garde painters such as Picasso, Matisse and Braque to provide scenery and costumes for the Ballet Russes and British ballet companies worked with home grown talent - Cecil Beaton, Oliver Messel and John Piper in the 1940s and 50s then later from the 1970s David Hockney, Howard Hodgkin and Gerald Scarfe amongst others who created designs for ballet and opera.

Modern, abstract designs have evolved with Ballet Rambert working with Bridget Riley and sculptors have also contributed to choreography – Usamu Noguchi with Martha Graham and Anthony Gormley with Buddhist Shaolin monks.

Jo Mabutt is a decorative artist specialising in experimental surface decoration, combining gilding with print and hand painting. I work on a variety of surfaces, from paper to textiles to glass, and am currently developing ranges of gilded jewellery, fashion and interior accessories. She gives a variety of lectures to the Arts Society and other interest groups.


Thursday 20th May 7pm

LGBT Campaigner, Booker nominated author, Vogue model, accomplished actress and holder of a philosophy PhD - A talk with Dr Sophie Ward

Dr Sophie Ward is an actor and writer who has worked in film and television since her feature film debut in Steven Spielberg’s Young Sherlock Holmes, and in theatre, most notably with the Citizens Theatre in Glasgow. Her list of both television and theatre credits is extensive and impressive ranging from Heartbeat to The Moonstone, and Jane Eyre to Hamlet.
Sophie has been an active campaigner for LGBT rights and her non-fiction book, A Marriage Proposal, was published by the Guardian in 2014. She is probably most famous for being the first high-profile British actress to come out as a lesbian and walking the red carpet 24 years ago with her then girlfriend.
She has appeared as a Vogue cover girl, written for the Guardian, The Times, and The Spectator and campaigned for equal marriage rights.
She gained her PhD in 2019 from the English & Comparative Literature department of Goldsmiths University. Her research specialised in thought experiments in philosophy of mind and the use of narrative in philosophy, looking at issues of consciousness and AI, and the meeting between literature and philosophy.
Her first novel, Love and Other Thought Experiments, was longlisted for the Booker prize in 2020.


Thursday 27th May 7pm

Rembrant's Vision with Dr Sophie Ooesterwijk

Dr Sophie Ooesterwijk, who has been extremely well received in her previous talks with us, brings us this talk about Rembrandt.

Rembrandt’s vision: Dutch history painting in the 17th century

‘History painting’ was a special genre for a distinct clientele in the Dutch Republic. It depicted stories from especially the Bible and Antiquity, often with a dramatic impact aimed at stirring the viewer’s emotions.

However, history painting could also provide a glib excuse for depicting the female nude as in the stories of Bathsheba, the virtuous Susanna and Lucretia.

Trained in this genre by Pieter Lastman, Rembrandt gradually developed his own interpretations of such stories. With greater emphasis on inner conflict and personal drama, his visions are very different from those of his contemporaries and can still touch us today.