Annual General Meeting

The Annual General Meeting of the Northampton Branch was held at the University of Northampton’s Park Campus on 27 November 2014. The following were elected as officers to serve for 2015: Mr David Waller (Chairman), Dr Zoe Dyndor (Hon. Secretary) and Ms Laura Bakker (Hon. Treasurer). Mr William Walford was co-opted to the Committee of the Branch as Publicity Secretary.

The Committee extended its sincere thanks to the retiring Treasurer Mrs Marguerite Stephenson for her many years of service to the Branch.

By historicalassociationnorthamptonbranch

April Meeting: The Quaker Meeting Houses of Northamptonshire

Our April meeting takes place a week today (24th), when our own Programme Secretary William Walford will give an illustrated talk on The Quaker Meeting Houses of Northamptonshire. The meeting will be held in Holdenby Lecture Theatre 2 at the University of Northampton’s Park Campus, beginning at 7.30 p.m. Details of how to reach the venue may be found on the University’s website:


By historicalassociationnorthamptonbranch

Presidential Lecture

Join us for the Presidential Lecture on Saturday 3 May at 2.45 p.m

This year we shall be having an additional lecture in our 2013-14 programme, to be given by the Association’s President Professor Jackie Eales. The Northampton Branch celebrates its 75th anniversary this session, having been founded coincidentally on ‘Munich Night’ in September 1938, and we are delighted that the occasion can be marked in such a suitable manner. To the best of our knowledge this is the first visit by the HA President to the Branch in over 20 years. Our hosts on this occasion will be our colleagues in the Northamptonshire Record Society, who have invited Prof Eales to give their Spring Lecture.

For information on applying for tickets, please follow this link.  Tickets are free to HA Members and Branch Associates and the application form should be returned to the NRS Hon. Secretary at the Society’s offices at Wootton Hall Park. The only charge is for refreshments and cheques should be made payable to NRS (N.B. not the HA). The meeting will be held in the lecture theatre adjacent to the Great Hall at St Andrew’s Hospital, Northampton (access is via the Main Reception – please see attached plan of the site).

By historicalassociationnorthamptonbranch

Spencer Perceval by Lester Hillman

Our last lecture was a colourful and lively talk about Northampton MP Spencer Perceval. The speaker’s home overlooks the Perceval house, fueling his interest and adding a personal tough to the talk. Known as ‘Little P’ at school, Perceval rose to become Prime Minister, and was made famous by his assassination in 1812.

Mr Hillman discussed the life of Perceval, paying particular attention to the places he had lived in London. No doubt Perceval needed many properties to house his 12 children! Mr Hillman examined the links to London properties, such as in Belsize and Holburn, and place names in Islington. The speaker then went on to examine the life of John Bellingham, Spencer’s assassin, before he described the events of the assassination. He described this as ‘England’s Kennedy Moment’, making parallels with the death of JFK.

This richly illustrated talk gave insight into the life and death of Spencer and Bellingham, as well as offering insight into the place names of London.

Our next talk is on Thursday 13 March 2014 at  Bishop Stopford School, Kettering.

By historicalassociationnorthamptonbranch

February Meeting: Spencer Perceval

Spencer Perceval: ‘England’s Kennedy Moment’
by Lester Hillman
Thursday 13th February 2014, 7.30pm, The University of Northampton
Prime Minister Spencer Perceval, Northampton MP, was assassinated in the Palace of Westminster in 1812. With recollections of John F Kennedy’s death 50 years ago recently revisited, the presentation will explore England’s ‘Kennedy Moment’.
Perceval’s family had strong interests in today’s London Borough of Islington. Our speaker is the Academic Adviser to the Islington Archaeology & History Society and writes, lectures and leads walks on Perceval and related themes. For four decades has had a home overlooking where the Perceval family lived.
By historicalassociationnorthamptonbranch

Jorian Jenks by Philip Coupland

Our latest lecture was by former Branch Secretary Dr Philip Coupland, speaking on ‘Jorian Jenks: Writing a Fascist Life’. Jorian Jenks came from a Liberal background, to become a Fascist and later member of the Soil Association an early Green Movement. Dr Coupland explained how he went about researching the life of Jenks, deciding to examine both his personal and political life, to build a picture of Jenks from birth to examine how a boy who desired to be a farmer became a Fascist.

Though he volunteered for officer training in 1917, due to ill health he never went to the front line. Jenks was discharged from the army early after the war, and left with intentions of farming. Frustrating in his endeavours he ended up in New Zealand in 1922, where he spent most of his 20s. He returned to England in 1928 to claim his legacy from his grandfather.  This critically allowed him to get his degree and set himself up as a farmer. Subsequently, and critically, Dr Coupland discovered that Jenks was agricultural correspondent to the Yorkshire Post, which described itself as the National paper of Yorkshire. He later wrote for the Fascist press, was a BUF candidate in 1936 and was part of the leader party in the May Day march of 1939. Jenks was interred in Brixton in 1940, which resulted in him losing his job and farm and resulted in the breakdown in his marriage. Secret services intervened to prevent him from getting teaching posts. The soil association was perhaps the most significant part of his later life: he was an important figure in the association as writer.

Illustrated with pictures of Jenks and documents about him, this talk gave fascinating insight into his life as well as insight into the ways and means of researching someone’s life, from google to discovering personal papers in outbuildings! We look forward to the book!

By historicalassociationnorthamptonbranch

Criminal Corpses by Sarah Tarlow

On Thursday 14 November the HA held a successful joint meeting with the Northamptonshire Archaeological Society, who hosted the meeting at the Humfrey Rooms.

Professor Tarlow introduced the project ‘Harnessing the power of the criminal corpse’ which examines the post-mortem punishments of criminals from the Murder Act (1752) to the Anatomy Act (1834). The project examines the power held by the criminal corpse in the landscape, judiciary, folklore and medicine. The criminal corpse murders was treated differently to other criminals, ordered to be either hung in chains or dissected. Dissected bodies usually had little remains left as they were ‘dissected to the extremities’ leaving little archaeological evidence. Bodies hung in chains were placed in an iron cage on a high post, close to the scene of the crime, indefinitely.

Prof. Tarlow went on to explain what happen to some of the body parts of men executed under the Murder Act. Eugene Aram, one of the most famous criminals of the eighteenth century, was hung in chains His skull was later used for phrenology lectures, giving his body a life after death.  William Burke had a curious afterlife, famous for murdering people to take to the surgeons for cash, he ended up suffering the same fate as hits victims: dissected and anatomised. William Corder had a particularly interesting cultural afterlife, depicted on the stage and screen right up to the 21st century. His skeleton was used for medical training following its direction, and his tanned skin is still on display in Moyses Hall, Bury St. Edmunds.

The talk was summarised with the question of the ethics of displaying human remains, something that is a topic if discussion now, but at the time of the Murder Act was a cultural norm. Fully illustrated with images or criminal remains and curios, this lively, if at times gruesome, talk was enjoyed by all!

By historicalassociationnorthamptonbranch

November Meeting: Criminal Corpses

Our next meeting, the first of two this month, takes tomorrow (Thursday 14th November), in conjunction with the Northamptonshire Archaeological Society. Dr Sarah Tarlow of the University of Leicester will be speaking on the subject “The Criminal Corpse: Disposing of remains of executed criminals in the 18th century”. The meeting will be held at the Humfrey Rooms at 7.00pm, please see the website of the Northants Natural History Society for directions. ( I do hope you will be able to join us.

By historicalassociationnorthamptonbranch

Summer Events

Our new branch programme will be available soon, in the mean time here are some events that may be of interest:

Stowe House Summer Talk: Appearing to Advantage – Dining with the Georgians

Friday 16th August, 7.00pm

Stowe, Buckingham, MK18 5EH

Food historian Dr Annie Gray has a wide-ranging set of interests, from gender and tea, through to changing notions of edibility. In this talk she discusses Georgian Dining including what to feed your notable guests and how to navigate around the pitfalls of dining in polite society. Feel yourself going back in time as you enjoy chance to taste real Georgian recipes and take in your surroundings in Stowe’s sumptuous  State Music Room where many a fine meal has been consumed!

Annie is a noted food historian who has featured on many television and radio programmes such as The Great British Bake Off, The Hairy Bikers Best of British and The Kitchen Cabinet.

Tickets £18.00 including wine and canapés on the South Front Portico on arrival and chance to taste original Georgian recipes. Pre-booking is essential, call 01280 818002 for more information or to book tickets. Buy tickets to both of our summer talks and receive a 10% discount.

Stowe House Summer Talk: Royal Scandals through the Ages

Friday 23rd August, 7.00pm

Stowe, Buckingham, MK18 5EH

Royal biographer, Dr Kate Williams shows how royalty and scandal have been in a riotous and uneasy marriage throughout history. In this lavishly illustrated talk, Dr Williams explores the stories of some of the most notable royal scandals.

Paying particular attention to the eighteenth century, she lifts the lid on tales of cash for honours, spurned mistresses, ambitious courtesans, mistreated wives and truly eye-popping levels of spending, and telling the story of Princess Charlotte, daughter of George IV and the Queen who never was.  As this beautifully illustrated talk reveals, royal scandal is nothing new.

Tickets £22.00 including wine and canapés on the South Front Portico on arrival and chance to taste original Georgian recipes. Pre-booking is essential, call 01280 818002 for more information or to book tickets. Buy tickets to both of our summer talks and receive a 10% discount.

Today, tomorrow and beyond: Can the past project cartography into the future?

18:30 Tuesday 3 September 2013

Hothorpe Hall, Theddingworth, Leicestershire, LE17 6QX

This year the lecture entitled “Today, tomorrow and beyond: Can the past project cartography into the future?” will be given by Nick Millea, Map Librarian of the Bodleian Library, University of Oxford and author of various cartographic publications. Nick will use examples of classic cartography to reflect on how mapping has evolved over time and how it has come of age in the 21st century.

The lecture is open to anyone interested in mapping, the attendance fee is £9 (inc VAT) per person and includes wine reception, an opportunity to view the 2013 The British Cartographic Society’s annual award entries and opening of the commercial exhibition

To book a place visit:

The Peace and Anti-War Movement on the eve of the First World War – lessons for today

Friday 20th & Saturday 21st September

At the Friends Meeting House, Mount Street, Manchester

 The Conference starts with a film Benjamin Britten – Peace and Conflict marking the 100th anniversary of the composer’s birth. The Saturday will be introduced by war reporter and former independent MP, Martin Bell and features talks on peace activist and suffragist, Isabella Ford, the centenary of the Northern Friends Peace Board and the View of Two Communities on the eve of WWI in Germany and England. A Q&A panel discussion on the lessons for today completes the programme.

Registration for the Conference is now open by emailing, phoning 0161 273 8283 or posting the booking form.


By historicalassociationnorthamptonbranch

Irnham and the Luttrell Psalter by William Walford

The branch were treated to a richly illustrated talk from our own secretary William Walford. The subject was the village of Irnham and the Luttrell Psalter. William explained the history of Irnham and its relation to Sir Geoffrey Luttrell III, commissioner of the Luttrell Psalter,  who became estate owner in the 14th century. Sir Geoffrey commissioned the Psalter to expedite his sins, though it is not known what they were. William informed the audience about St Andrew’s church, Irnham Hall and Thimbleby’s Almshouses. Complete with photographs, William led the audience through the village buildings, their history and architecture. William also explained the history of the The Psalter itself, compiled by Dominican monks, and decoded its bright illuminations to depict a year in village life. With much participation from the audience, this lively talk was enjoyed by all as we marveled in the images of the Psalter.

Our next meeting takes place this Thursday evening, when Dr. Lawrence Goldman of St. Peter’s College, Oxford, will be speaking on the subject ‘Rewriting British History: The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography and Northampton’s place in it’. Dr. Goldman is a specialist in British 19th-century intellectual history and has been editor of the DNB since 2004.
This is a joint meeting with the Friends of Northampton Museum and Art Gallery and will be held at the Central Museum in Guildhall Road, Northampton, at the earlier than usual time of 6.30 p.m. Doors will open at six o’clock for refreshments (tea and coffee). Car parking is available in the St. John’s multi-storey car park at the bottom of Guildhall Road, although at that hour there may be some on-street parking available in the town centre
By historicalassociationnorthamptonbranch