Programme 2020/2021

We’re back! Not yet in person, sadly, but like many other Societies and organisations we’re able to move on line. Not everyone has that privilege, of course – but if you can read this you can probably join in, and very welcome you’ll be.

Members will get the invitation automatically – well, from the Chairman, anyway – a few days beforehand. Non-members can ask to be invited as well – please use the ‘contact form‘ to ask – or, even better, to apply for membership!

Talks will be summarised in Rickmansworth Historical Review.

Talks delivered this year:

10 September 2020 (on line)

The 5 Acre Chartists        Kate Harwood

Frustrated by the ‘Great’ Reform Act of 1832 failing to extend the vote to all working men, Feargus O’Connor decided instead to set up a scheme whereby the working man could achieve enough money to fulfil the criterion for being eligible to vote. This he did by setting up the Land Colonies, the first at Herringsgate Farm, renamed O’Connorville.

Kate’s talk looked at the rise and subsequent fall of O’Connor’s scheme, its forerunners and its legacy, and allowed us to see how local people were able (or not) to help the frequently ill-prepared incomers from the industrial midlands and north. It’s a period of our local history with resonance even now.

8 October 2020 (on line)

The parishioners of St Mary’s before the Reformation    Dr  Heather Falvey

Just over 200 wills of Rickmansworth parishioners survive dating from 1417 to 1539. When put together the details that they contain provide glimpses of the medieval parish, of its members and of St Mary’s church itself.

Our chairman presented an important analysis of what we learn about the late-medieval church building from the references to, and endowments of, it in these wills, for example about the way in which the various saints were honoured with side-altars. Rickmansworth is unusually well-served in the large number of extant wills of this period, and few other parishes will have such a strong picture of what was going on at this time.

The planned talks:

12 November 2020 (on line)

Smoke, Steam and Soot        David Burnell

David gave us a terrific talk last year on the Art of the Underground, following which a group of us were able to visit the LUL art collection at Acton.

This time, he’ll go underground properly. This talk will recall,  by way of contemporary accounts, the building of the world’s first underground railway. The experience of travelling on the steam powered underground was not without its hazards and these are recounted largely through the writings of those who ventured through what The London Times described as ‘tunnels with sewer drippings in London’s foul subsoil’.

Lovely. But sounds great!

10 December 2020 (on line)

Lord Ebury’s railway        Chris Hillier

This is the postponed Rickmansworth Week lecture from May 2020.

Chris Hillier will recount the story of the short-lived railway opened in the 1860s that ran from Rickmansworth to Watford. If all had gone to plan Rickmansworth might have had a broad gauge station as well as a standard gauge one.

14 January 2021

The history of Hertfordshire’s Police        Andy Wiseman

11 February 2021

Paradise by way Kensal Green        Trevor Spinage

11 March 2021

Beacons of the Past – investigating a prehistoric Chilterns landscape        Wendy Morrison

8 April 2021

‘Sights most strange’:  tourists in medieval and early modern London        John Clark

13 May 2021 Rickmansworth Week Lecture

Croxley Postcards          David Loose

10 June 2021  67th Annual General Meeting, then

The slave owners of West Hertfordshire        Brian Thomson