Talks Programme 2024

Every second Thursday of the month (except July and August), 2.15 for 2.30.

January 11 –  Dr Robert Nantes –  ‘The luxury of the age will be the ruin of the nation’ (Daniel Defoe): The eighteenth-century panic over lifestyles, luxuries, and the consumption of tea, coffee and wine.

February 8  –   Bridport and Area Historians’ Round Table

The Society will welcome a panel of local historians who will be introducing us to their latest research, or reflecting on aspects of their past investigations. February’s speakers and their subjects are:

Gavin Bacon – ‘The Arrival of the Railway in Evershot (Dorset) in 1857’

Dr Michael Denny – ‘Castles in the Air’ (The life of seventeenth-century Dorset physician Thomas Sydenham)

Dr Mark Forrest – ‘Trade and Commerce in Dorset, 1300–1550’

Richard Sims – ‘From Bridport Harbour to West Bay: A Journey through Time’

Sylvia Stafford – ‘An Accidental Historian’s Journey’

Bruce Upton – ‘We'll have your liver and lights by tonight!’: Bridport Women Falling Foul of the Law in the Nineteenth Century

March 14  –   
Prof. William Gibson (Oxford Brookes University), ‘Seals, Sedition and Sacheverell’.  The talk introduces the ways in which personal wax seals were used in the eighteenth century – on documents, as decorative items and for political purposes.  Through the case of Henry Sacheverell, we see how seal-makers exploited the political nature of public life.  Although forgotten now, Sacheverell was a great celebrity in the first two decades of the eighteenth century  – either hero or villain depending on your point of view, use of his seals raises questions of loyalty and treason in the period.

Henry Sacheverell

Extract from Greg Jenner's Dead Famous: An Unexpected History of Celebrity:

'Doctor Henry Sacheverell...was an ambitious Anglican minister who gave a fiery speech from the pulpit of St Paul's Cathedral on 5 November 1709, attacking "false brethren" in the was immediately perceived as a political broadside against the Whig party by pro-royalist Tories, and thus Sacheverell was thrust into the centre of a political maelstrom...Before long, 100,000 copies of his speech had been sold...His next speech was attended by a huge mob, desperate to get into church...the Whig government attempted to try him for sedition...riots broke out in his defence...'

(right) Staffordshire figure of Henry Sacheverell (c.1745), an example of eighteenth-century celebrity merchandising the height of Sacheverell's new fame, penny loaves were inscribed with his name and the year, medals were issued, commemorative plates were struck, ceramic statuettes were made, babies were named in his honour, his chubby face appeared on wax-seals so people could stamp it into their letters, and he stared out from ladies' fans, decks of cards, tobacco pipes, and coat buttons...Sacheverell was already every inch the modern celebrity.' (Greg Jenner, Dead Famous: An Unexpected History of Celebrity)

April 11 –  Austen Hamilton MA – The Eighteenth-Century Speculative House Builder – a Familiar Figure:  ‘The housing problem’ has a long history, as has the role of the speculative builder in its solution. The development process has changed little over the centuries and a look at some of the players and controversies of eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century housing development can provide an interesting sidelight on our own times.


May 9 –  Prof. Karen Hunt –  'Stories from the Outworkers Ledger' (Bridport industry and labour history)

June 13 –  D-Day 80th Anniversary Special, all day event 10am – 5pm: Jane Ferrentzi-Sheppard and others     More details coming soon

July/Aug - No meeting

Autumn Programme coming soon   

Sep – tbc

Oct – tbc

Nov – tbc
Dec – tbc