IMPORTANT SOCIETY NEWS: CORONAVIRUS (updated 18th September 2021)

During the current pandemic the Society’s activities depend on prevailing government regulations or recommendations by other authorities.  Our plans should be understood in this light.  Please bear with us, as this programme and the method of its delivery, may be need to be varied.

Online and In-Person Meetings

To meet members’ varied requirements, we intend to offer hybrid online / in-person meetings, where the speaker and audience meet face-to-face at Aylesford School*, whilst the talk is live-streamed to remote audiences via ZOOM.  


Lectures are at 7:30pm on the third Tuesday of the month, apart from our annual Saturday afternoon meeting in January, which is at 2pm.

We are currently evaluating technical and operational practicalities and will advise members when this can be introduced. In advance of that, we will continue to offer online lectures via ZOOM and booking details will be circulated a week before each meeting.

We retain the option to provide lectures online only, via ZOOM, if government guidance requires this. 

Venues for In-Person Meetings

*Aylesford School, Tapping Way, Warwick, CV34 6XR – for evening meetings. 

*Budbrooke Church Centre, Church Lane, Budbrooke, CV35 8QL – for afternoon meeting, Saturday 15/01/2022

Practicalities at In-Person Meetings

In the current situation, we request that social distancing measures are observed, and that face coverings are worn (unless you are exempt).

Tea and coffee will not be served at the moment, but we hope to resume this popular aspect of our meetings, when circumstances permit.

Remember, if you are a member of one of our affiliated societies, you can enjoy our talks for free!

Link to Directions


Future Events

Tuesday 15 February 2022

Late Medieval Towns in Arden, Dr Andrew Watkins

Tuesday 15 March 2022

Members' Meeting

Tuesday 26 April 2022

Annual General Meeting.  Speaker to be confirmed

Saturday 7 May 2022

Edgehill Battlefield Walk, A morning outing followed by optional lunch.  Led by Martin Russell, the Vice President of Shipston and District Local History Society (this finishes at the local pub and members can choose to stay for lunch if they wish).  Full details and prices to be confirmed.

Thursday 26 May 2022

Trip to Birmingham Guinea Gardens and Birmingham Botanical Gardens, all day, led by members of Birmingham Guinea Gardens and the Botanical Gardens tour guides (lunch at the Botanical Gardens: members can bring packed lunch or eat in the cafe).  Full details and prices to be confirmed.

Saturday 2 July 2022

Compton Verney Archaeology: An afternoon tour of the grounds of Compton Verney led by Compton Verney Archaeologist Hilary Calow followed by a cream tea at Compton Verney.  Full details and prices to be confirmed.

Wednesday 7 September 2022

Middleton Hall, Tamworth: A morning tour of the hall followed by members' choice of packed lunch or lunch in the restaurant, with access to the hall and gardens for the rest of the day.  Full details and prices to be confirmed.

Recent Events

Saturday 15 January 2022 afternoon talk

The Black Book of Warwick, Emma Bromley. 

Emma Bromley shared her research on this Elizabethan manuscript for the Corporation of Warwick (later known as Warwick Town Council). Originally intended for use as a minute book, it evolved into the personal diary of the town clerk, who recorded notable events. This book provides a fascinating contemporary account of Tudor life in Warwick.  

Image: 'The Black Book of Warwick’ CR 1618/W19/6

Courtesy of Warwick County Record Office

Tuesday 16 November 2021 evening talk

John Hall, Master of Physicke, Dr Paul Edmondson. 

Nearly 100 of us 'tuned in' on Zoom to hear Dr Paul Edmondson of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust discuss recent research into the medical practice of John Hall, a Stratford physician and son-in-law of William Shakespeare. We enjoyed an insight into medical practice and the social and intellectual climate of early modern Stratford-upon-Avon and learnt about his clients, many of whom came from well-known families of the day.  Few of us will forget some of the more fantastic cures used by John Hall in his casebook.

Image: ‘A Doctor Casting the Water’ by Osias Dyck c.1660 STRST: SBT 1994-17 Courtesy of Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

Tuesday 19 October 2021 evening talk

Warwickshire Women and the Fight for the Vote, Members were treated to a lively, interesting talk by Professor Sarah Richardson of Warwick University.  She examined Warwickshire’s thriving female political culture and its contribution to the cause of universal suffrage and provided a series of 'pen portraits' of some of the key Warwickshire figures, peppered with illustrations of original documents from sources such as Warwickshire County Record Office.  A very enjoyable talk and we had nearly 50 'devices' logged onto this online presentation.

Image: ‘Anne Justins, the First Woman Mayor of Stratford-upon-Avon 1928’ Photographer: Ernest Daniels Courtesy of Stratford Town Council & Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

Saturday 25 September 2021 summer event

St Leonard’s Church, Over Whitacre and St John the Baptist Church, Lea Marston

Our last outing of the season took place on a lovely autumn sunny day and was attended by nearly 40 people. 

The outing was led by one of our members, Rita Poulson, who is local to the area.  The present church of St Leonard's, in the Baroque style, was built in 1765 although a chapel has existed in Over Whitacre from as early as 1203.  Rita gave us a lively history of this beautiful chapel on a hill, as well as telling the stories of the many characters connected with the church during its history.  We then visited St John the Baptist Church in Lea Marston which was the Estate Church for the nearby Hams Hall Estate, belonging to the Adderley family.  Members learnt that a chapel has existed in Lea Marston as early as 1252, with the south wall of the nave dating from the medieval period.  Much of the existing church was altered by the Arden Adderley family in 1876/7 under architect Frederick Preedy.

Saturday 4 September 2021 summer events

Bagot's Castle, Baginton, 

We enjoyed a sunny afternoon and a successful outing recently when we visited Bagot’s Castle, Baginton. 

The Bagot’s Castle archaeologist, Nicholas Palmer, took the group on a tour of this 14th Century castle which now stands in ruins.  The original building could have been constructed on the site in the 11th century, at the time of King Henry I. It was rebuilt in the late 14th Century by Sir William Bagot, a distinguished nobleman.  As well as finding out about the history of the castle itself, our members enjoyed a tour of the wider site, which included an Anglo Saxon site, fishponds, 18th century bowling green and a 20th century tank testing site.

Saturday 17 July 2021 summer event

Napton on the Hill church and village, 2 pm

Members enjoyed a sunny afternoon and a successful outing recently when we visited Napton on the Hill.

The outing began at St Lawrence’s Church, where villager Monica Evans gave an entertaining talk about the history of this church, which was built in the 13th century but has seen many alterations since, particularly in Victorian times.  We enjoyed seeing the marks in the porch where villagers in times gone by had sharpened their arrows before their compulsory archery practice, and viewing the two stone alters that had escaped the destruction of such objects in the Reformation of the 16th century. 

John Evans then took the lead on a History Walk around the village, starting with the World War 2 Observer Post, from which Napton Windmill (now a private residence), the canal, and countryside as far as Coventry can clearly be seen.  The walk took in landmarks such as the old school buildings, old chapels, pillory green, old bakery and other shops, old pub and memorial trees and finished at the Church, where refreshments on such a hot day were very welcome.  


Monday 7 June 2021 summer event

Fire of Warwick Walking Tour, 2 pm to 4 pm, Meet at Pageant Gardens, Warwick.

The Fire of Warwick was a major conflagration that swept through Warwick on 5 September 1694 and lasted for six hours. The fire started when sparks from a lighted taper blew onto the thatched roof of one of the houses opposite the Lord Leycester Hospital.  Members followed the route of the fire with 'Unlocking Warwick' and WLHS member Sue Rigby and Unlocking Warwick Treasurer Paula Fletcher.  We were also joined by WLHS member Steven Wallsgrove, who explained the relief and reconstruction efforts, showing us facsimiles of surveys, claims for compensation, and other documents held by the County Record Office. Those attending all enjoyed the tour, our first since 2019.  A fuller report on the day, written by our Chairman, John Wilmot, can be found by clicking on the following link: Fire of Warwick outing report.

Tuesday 20 April 2021 evening

Professor Christopher Dyer, AGM & Lecture: ‘Immigrants in Warwickshire: a mobile population 1200-1525’ 

The latest in our programme of online talks was given by Professor Christopher Dyer of Leicester University and focused on ‘Immigrants in Warwickshire: a mobile population 1200 – 1525’.  It was another well attended online presentation with over 70 households joining and followed a short AGM. 

Professor Dyer challenged our beliefs that people stayed largely in one place during medieval times, instead claiming that migration was relatively common as a restless, ambitious society sought to better themselves.  It was quite usual for people to move around the countryside and, less often, travel from abroad.  Events such as the Black Death in 1349 made it easier for serfs to migrate to other areas as the demand for workers rose.  Medieval Warwickshire was the scene of much migration.  There was some evidence of a degree of tolerance towards newcomers, making it relatively easy to move into the area. However, there were also instances of hostility towards strangers, particularly in the case of vagrants.

Professor Dyer quoted a range of interesting evidence to back up his claims, including bone analysis of bodies at Wasperton Parish, evidence from Church Courts depositions which took down the history of the perpetrators, and above all analysis of surnames as an indicator of place of origin (eg, Roger of Warwick), found in lists of rents, court records, lists of taxation, lists of serfs escaping from their manor, etc. 

Tuesday 16 March 2021

'The Sadleirs of Fillongley' and 'Scratching the Surface: Medieval Graffiti.'

WLHS likes to showcase the local history research done by its members and sets aside one meeting a year to do so. This year we were entertained by Judith Ellis and David Freke.

Judith Ellis spoke about the Sadleirs of Fillongley, a well-to-do Catholic gentry family, and her discoveries relating to the death of Theodore, a widower with teenage children, in July 1693. He died intestate and Thomas Holbeche of Fillongley Hall became executor of Theodore's estate, arranging his daughter's marriage to one of Thomas's sons, while Catesby Odham, a Coventry Jacobite mercer, managed the lavish funeral.

David Freke gave a shortened version of his talk 'Scratching the Surface' about medieval graffiti in churches in the Kineton area. The date and exact meaning of the grids, 'daisy-wheels', scratch-dials, crosses, stars, circles and pentangles is uncertain but they often appear in great numbers on pillars, arches and especially around church-porches, only revealed with a strong light. Some may have been religious symbols but most are probably practical or concerned with protection from harm.

Tuesday 16 February 2021 evening talk

Adrian Walters, 'Non-conformist Education and Outreach in Stratford-upon-Avon & District 1860 – 1930’ 

Members and guests enjoyed independent researcher Adrian Walters' talk on non conformist education and outreach in Stratford upon Avon and the surrounding district between 1860 and 1930.  South Warwickshire has a rich history of Non-conformist worship and social activism. Adrian examined aspects of this, with a focus on education and outreach in and around Stratford-upon-Avon, in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries.

Image shows Stratford Wesleyan Methodist Chapel and School, courtesy of Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

Saturday 16 January 2021 saturday meeting

'The Photographer's Gaze: Viewing Warwickshire since 1839'

The first of our 2021 lectures was delivered online to a mixture of nearly 90 members and non-members.

The talk, led by Jim Ranahan ARPS, looked at how Warwickshire's people and places are regularly photographed and considered how old photographs could be used as popular elements of local historical research. Jim looked at Warwickshire photographers, from the birth of photography with George Shaw in 1839, ranging through local photographers such as Henry Peach Robinson and Clare Speight, and considered how and why they have chosen to represent the County as they have. This talk considered Warwickshire's rich photographic history and its continuing role in photographic innovation, including a look at the first colour photographs and aerial photography. Jim Ranahan is an archivist and photographic historian and also an active member of WLHS.


The image is of 'Edward Fox's Shop, Stratford-upon-Avon c.1905', the photographer is Harold Baker and the image is provided courtesy of Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.

Meeting report: 'Getting Online for Research and Publicity'.

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

For a list of other societies' lectures and events, see our OTHER EVENTS page.

St John the Baptist, Lea Marston


The interior of the Guild Hall, Henley in Arden.


The Windmill at Napton on the Hill


Bagot's Castle, Baginton