Past Talks and Events


At our May meeting, Helen Baggott revealed the true stories behind postcards sent in the early years of the 20th century. Using genealogy, Helen had researched the families to reveal their stories, which included a 10-year-old servant working for a laundress in 19th-century Bath and the man who helped keep the doors to Great Ormond Street Hospital open for more than 30 years. Also, a soldier killed in the
First World War. All connected by messages sent using the first real social media phenomenon of the 20th century. A fascinating evening.

A Tale of Two Villages:  On Easter Monday, we organised two guided walks. In the afternoon, we joined
Nathalie and Valerie to hear about the history of Kingsbury Regis and of the buildings and structures that make up this part of the village. A big ‘thank you’ to those residents who kindly stepped outside and told us themselves about the history of their houses. The walk then took us to the site of the manor of Swatchford, home to Edward Hallett in the 1740s. Here we learnt about the complex of buildings that have now disappeared and about the life of this interesting man. The evening walk was led by Lesley and John when we learnt about the origins of Milborne Port.

Lesley Wray and Nathalie Hetherington very kindly stepped into the breach when our speaker for March, Ted Udall, contracted Covid. Lesley gave us an insight into the Commonalty from its origins in the 14th century and its growth and development up to the present, making it one of the oldest charities in Somerset. She ended her talk in the lower room of the Guildhall, which from 1854 was converted to the village lock-up. Here we met one of its likely regulars, Milborne Port’s Victorian arch-criminal, Samuel Fudge. Nathalie chartered what should have been ‘a life on the ocean wave’ to one which became a sorry tale of opportunist petty theft, organised crime, prison hard labour and a daring escape and recapture. As far as we know, Samuel Fudge is still on the run so if you chance upon him please let us know. He is described as being 5-5’ 3”, scar on his forehead and has a deformed thumb… You can’t miss him…

In February, in a charismatic story-telling, Nathalie Hetherington gave us a glimpse of the life and times of Thomas Medlycott and Tattle Hall (aka Ven House), informed by the letters of 1739-1746 written to his agent and friend Edward Hallett (‘My Dear Ned’). Medlycott was a barrister and Member of Parliament for Milborne Port. Not unlike most people of today, he was preoccupied with domestic arrangements, transport, finances, staff and his relationships with others.

The January talk, Alan Stone talked to us about Glastonbury Abbey and separated fact from fiction surrounding the origins of the Abbey and the burial of Arthur and Guinevere. Unfortunately, due to lockdown, Alan has not as yet returned to guiding at the Abbey, so he was unable to wear his monk’s habit – perhaps next time? Or maybe we will have to arrange a trip up to Glastonbury to visit the Abbey and try his cider!


In November, the writer Rosie Lear gave a captivating talk about her series of murder-mystery novels set in and around Sherborne in medieval times; her main character, Matthias Barton, lives in Milborne Port! It was so interesting to learn about why she chose to give him a home in our own village and about the very careful historical research that has gone into each of her five stories (the sixth is currently being written). Rosie is clearly a great lover of history and is very knowledgeable about this period. She talked about her writing processes and methods, and, having come late in life to historical fiction writing, certainly would have inspired and motivated those in the audience who had been nursing a desire to write but not yet had the courage to grasp that literary bull by the horns!

Salisbury Cathedral Tower Guide and our group’s Chairman, Harold Clarke, presented the October talk ‘History of Salisbury Cathedral in Five Objects’.  He took us from the original cathedral in Sherborne, to to its relocation in Old Sarum to its present site in Salisbury (New Sarum).  He drew a vivid picture of the life and work of the medieval stone masons who erected the building in the space of a record 38 years; he described the later, misguided ‘improvements’ and the cathedral’s connection to the Magna Carta.  His explanation of the Golden Ratio and its connection to Fibonacci’s rabbits was particularly intriguing!

Our September speaker was Tim Medhurst, a regular on the BBC’s Antiques Road Trip. He told us how his love of antiques developed and shared with us some of his favourite treasures. Several people brought items along which Tim appraised and we all learned something new!

Our August talk was given by the ever-popular Richard Duckworth; he gave us a wonderful view of Milborne Port through pictures and film over the past 150 years.

After the Covid lockdown ended in July, Jim Hart gave our first talk of the year on the subject of local parish boundaries. This was a fascinating presentation and provoked lively discussion at the end of the meeting.

Some Previous Talks & Events

We were treated to a fascinating talk on the English Civil War in Dorset by Richard Warren, retired History teacher from Sherborne Boys’ School Richard not only covered Dorset’s experience during the Civil War, he also encouraged us to see the Cerne Giant and its origins in a totally different light!

Hugh Vincent, our local metal detectorist, organised another brain-teaser of a quiz to test our understanding of his local finds. One of our committee members, James Roberts, came out on top and impressed us all with his knowledge.

Jeremy Barker gave a fascinating talk on Sir James Thornhill of Thornhill Park near Stalbridge. Sir James was clearly a very talented man and hopefully Jeremy will be able to organise a visit for our members to Thornhill Park in the future.

A pleasant Summer event was had by one and all at the ‘Evening at the Museum’; it was great to just look at some of the exhibits, have a chat and a glass of Pimm’s with friends.

Loyalty, Dignity and Hope was the title of our ‘in house’ presentation by Lesley Wray, Janet Mathews, Mary Clothier, Nathalie Hetherington and Lyn Harrison; they provided an entertaining talk with many interesting facts and photographs of local Suffragettes and Suffragists, illustrating how these fitted in with the national picture. Click here to download a copy of the presentation material.

Richard Duckworth provided a fascinating and informative talk on West country steam trains and the railway along with slides, film clips and a wonderful complimentary audio accompaniment, including some wonderful footage of steam trains passing through Milborne Port and Sherborne stations.  This was a fund-raising event for us and we were able to raise over £240 to provide new and more professional signage for the Museum.

John Fanning and Lesley Wray gave us a sunny summer evening guided tour of St. John’s Church and we learnt new and interesting facts about the building, both inside and out.