Welcome to the Warwickshire Local History Society

New Year Events: 1. -- Evening Lecture, Tuesday 19 February 2019 at 8 pm

Dr Lucy Underwood, University of Warwick: 'The Catholic experience and aspects of childhood, in Warwickshire and elsewhere.'

2. Tuesday 19 March 2019, Society AGM (7.15 pm)

Follwed by David Paterson on 'George Eliot and her Warwickshire roots'

IMPORTANT SOCIETY NEWS: Three significant items

  • Change of venue for meetings: our evening meetings from October 2019 will be held  at Aylesford School, near the Stratford Road in Warwick. The move was prompted by the increasing problems parking in central Warwick. We do this with regret, as many of us are fond of the historic building we use. However our new meeting place is modern and well equipped (with ample free parking!), so we are confident that it will be to members' liking. 

  • Editor’s Move: our Editor, Dr Sylvia Pinches, has moved back to her old area of North Wales. For now she will continue to edit Warwickshire History, but the Society is seeking a new Editor. Further announcements will follow. 

  • September 2019: changes in society visit. We have changed the date from 21 to 7 September to avoid clashes (Heritage Open Days 13-22 September). The Coventry Charterhouse is closing for restoration, so instead we will visit two museums in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter (full details to follow). 

Parking in central Warwick: As noted above, this is increasingly challenging; see the official map for information about parking spaces. 

Recent events:

Pre- Christmas Social  1st December-- Visit to British Motor Museum, Gaydon

This was a venture into twentieth-century history, exploring an industry of key significance for our region. In the Museum's impressive building, members enjoyed looking at vehicles from the earliest days of motoring up to some of the latest ‘concept’ vehicles. There were also displays exploring the associated social and cultural history.

‘Women and the motor car’ was a lecture by Stephen Laing, the Museum’s Curator.

This was largely drawn from the museum's archives. Mr Laing discussed women's varying roles in the industry since the earliest days (the 'Motor Mills' opening in Coventry in 1896). Dorothy Levitt was among the Edwardian pioneers, mostly wealthy, and was the first female driver to win a race (in 1903).  Her 1909 handbook for women drivers suggested various glove box items, including a long-handled mirror for rearward vision and a pistol for self-defence!

Later changes included the great growth of female employment in wartime car factories, as they switched to armaments and military equipment. However in both wars male co-workers  often resented women's presence with the implied threat for future jobs. In the 1920s, the arrival of smaller, cheaper cars enlarged horizons for middle-class families, and much marketing effort was aimed at women. The 1960s saw the Mini associated with both male and female celebrities, while in the next decade society was changed through the female machinists’ strike at Ford and the subsequent Equal Pay Act.   

Evening Lecture -- Tuesday 20 November: ‘Why Birmingham? Why not Coventry, Lichfield or Worcester?' Jacqui Geater offered revealing insights into Tudor society through her research on wills and inventories of property (available as a Dugdale volume). She had studied the records of sixteenth-century Birmingham, then a prosperous market town on the fringe of the Warwickshire Arden. Its citizens combined mixed farming with a variety of trades, many of which were reflected in the inventories. She suggested that their freedom from craft, manorial and ecclesiastical constraints fostered an entrepreneurial culture; this enabled the town to thrive and later to surpass the region’s established cities. 

Evening Lecture -- Tuesday 16 October: 'Dr John Conolly (1794-1866), physician, reformer and enigma: his years in Warwickshire.'  Dr John Wilmot explored the life and work of Dr John Conolly (1794-1866), physician, reformer and one-time resident of Stratford and Warwick.  He later became celebrated for introducing more humane care of the mentally ill, but during his early period in Warwickshire, co-founded Stratford's first dispensary to treat the sick poor in 1823 and became the town's mayor in 1825. Later in Warwick, during the 1830s,he lectured at Mechanics' institutes, co-founded  the county's Naural History and Archaeology Society, and was an active Shakespearean However he  remains a controversial and rather enigmatic figure. (Read fuller report here).  

22 September 2018: St Edburgha’s Church and Blakesley Hall Museum, Yardley, Birmingham. We  explored St Edburgha’s Church; a hidden gem in the Yardley Village Conservation Area in eastern Birmingham.  We heard about the patron, St Edburgha, grand-daughter of King Alfred and   building features including Katherine of Aragon’s door and a mysterious ‘lost’ underground crypt. 

Nearby we had a fascinating tour of  Blakesley Hall, now part of Birmingham Museums. Richard Smalbroke, a leading Birmingham merchant, built this timber-framed house in 1590.  The furnishings, based on a 17th century inventory, reflect the lifestyle of a wealthy Tudor and Stuart family.

Saturday 7 July -- Guy’s Cliffe House and Guy’s Cliffe walled garden, Warwick. We explored the ruined Guy’s Cliffe mansion and the attached mediaeval chapel. Later we saw the estate's original kitchen garden, since 2014 undergoing restoration by volunteers associated with the  Guys Cliffe Walled Garden Trust. 

(See events page for fuller details of recent lectures and visits)

Other Information: 

News (local history noticeboard): On our recently added page -- find news about  the  'Living through the English Civil War' project, Geoge Eliot and her bicentenary, the Kenilworth FHS Programme, and the Southam Heritage Collection;  also Newcomen lectures in Birmingham, Research Conversations at Stratford, and details of the fine Radway civil war display. For comprehensive details of Warwickshire events, see our Bulletin.

Publications: A new cumulative Warwickshire Bibliography is now available. See link on 'Publications' page;  please let us know of any errors or omissions. 

The winter lectures are free to WLHS members and members of affiliated Local History Societies. We now charge non-members £3.00 -- refundable on the night when joining the Society!

For enquiries and bookings for forthcoming events, contact Neville Usher, info@warwickshirehistory.org.uk, 01789 205043

Meetings from October to April 8.00pm,
with coffee from 7.30pm,
Friends Meeting House,
39 High Street, Warwick,
CV34 4AX
Link to Google Map of location

For the Society's programme see Events

The Society's twice-yearly news bulletin includes contains society news and details of forthcoming local history lectures.
Read the latest Bulletin