Lectures 2022-23

Programme Secretary Kati Byrne

If you want to view the programme for the whole year, just click on   Programme 2022-23


                                    13th September 2022  at 10.30                        

The Genius of Antonio Stradivari 

Toby Faber: Publisher and Historian    


250 years after Stradivari’s death, his violins and cellos remain the most highly prized instruments  in the world. Loved by musicians, their tone and beauty are legendary; no subsequent violin-maker has ever matched them. How can that be?




11th October at 10.30 

The Lady of Cao - A Sorcerer, a Warrior and a Chief

Maria Chester - Professor of Pre-Columbian Art 

In 2005 a funerary chamber containing a mummified woman was discovered at Huaca Cao Viejo, on the outskirts of present-day city of Trujillo, Peru. The chamber had been sealed from both looters and the elements since around 450 CE. The Lady of Cao lived and died 1,600 years ago among the Moche, a people ruled by fierce men. Yet this remarkably preserved woman was buried with not one but two golden staffs, symbols of power - along with a great deal of gold,textiles and other   offerings. One of the textiles was a continuous fabric of more than 70 meters long, encircling the body 48 times. A golden bowl covered her face and she was accompanied by 120 kg of necklaces, nose ornaments, and earrings finely wrought in gold, gilded copper and silver.

8 November 2022 at 10.30

How to Look Slowly – Post-impressionism

Jo Rhymer: Teacher at the Wallace Collection and the V&A

Paintings by Georges Seurat and Vincent van Gogh are widely reproduced, giving a false sense of familiarity with their work. By looking at a few paintings in detail, we’ll consider their distinctive approaches to picture making, and develop a ‘toolkit’ for looking at paintings generally. 


13th December 2022

From Turkey to Trifle - a History of the Christmas Table and Customs

Jane Tapley Consultant for period TV Productions


Take a gourmet's journey through the origins of festive fayre and the traditions we have adopted from Georgian and Victorian times.  From the turkey, to the drinking of Port with Stilton cheese and the custom of wiping one's mouth on the tablecloth (!) - all revealed!


10th January 2023

The Architect Borromini and Kepler's New Astronomy

 Valerie Shrimplin: Researcher at Gresham College and Freelance Lecturer

Borromini was a 17th century contemporary of Kepler - is it a coincidence that the Baroque predilection for elliptical domes came in at the same time that Kepler demonstrated that the planets do not move in perfect circles?


14th February 2023

How to Criticise the Arts

Mark Fisher

This lecture will introduce the principles of arts criticism and how to put them into practice. It will question the place of the artist in the past and present, the role of the critic and the ways in which all of us can creatively and productively discuss the art we enjoy.


14th March 2023

Unravelling the Silk Road-Wool, Silk and Cotton Textiles in Central Asia

 Chris Alexander: Traveller, Lecturer and Author

Wool, silk and cotton each played a crucial role in Central Asia, changing the fortunes of this fascinating part of the world. Wool provided clothing and housing for nomadic cultures; silk was more valuable than gold and used as currency; Cotton prompted Russian and then Soviet colonization.


18th April 2023

 Rubens-Artist/Diplomat of the Thirty Years War

Matthew Wilson: History of Art Teacher and Freelance Writer 

As well as being the most famous painter of his day, Rubens had another career as a high-ranking ambassador. His travels drew him into the political arena; he moved between the courts of France, Spain and Britain, negotiating peace terms and painting allegorical masterpieces for each nation.


Lecture Report

9th May 2023

Chinese Paintings fron the Tang to the Qing Dynasty

 Oliver Gosling: Painter and Lecturer

What makes Chinese painting and how and why is it different from Western? This lecture looks at art from the Tang (618-907) to the Qing dynasty (1644-1911), and at the ideas that shaped a unique pictorial language and some of the most sublime landscape painting the world has seen.








13th June 2023

Cash for Coronets: An Architectural Legacy

Mark Meredith: History Writer and Speaker

Between 1870 and 1914, no less than 454 American heiresses exchanged their crisp new dollars for musty old European titles and their crumbling ancestral piles.  This talk looks at some of the more prominent of those stately homes and their fairy-dollar godmothers.

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