2023-24 Programme

All talks, presentations and meetings are open to visitors and start at 7:45 pm. There is no need to book but there is a nominal charge of £3 for members and £5 for visitors, payable on the night (cash only). Meetings are held in Trinity Methodist Church, Rainsford Road. Tea and coffee are available in the interval at a cost of £1.

All outings leave from outside the Chelmsford Theatre in Fairfield Road, usually at 8:30 am. Group members will have received booking terms and instructions with their Newsletter.

We recommend you park in the Coval Lane car park. Charges apply.

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Outing to Grimsthopre Castle
Report by Ann Notman


Outing to Runnymede and Hatchlands Park
Report by Maurice Austin


Outing to Stratfield Saye
Report by Shirley Deering


Outing to Blenheim Palace
Report by Shirley Deering


Group holiday centred on Salisbury
Report by Shirley Deering


Three Men Without a Boat


Stained glass in Essex


Eccentric East Look at East Anglia


The Industrial Revolution - The first 150 years


Talk on Warley Place


Annual General Meeting
Pay on the door


Dissolution of the Monasteries
Pay on the door


Outing to Runnymede and Hatchlands Park
Report by Maurice Austin

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Animal and human figures made out of willow

Those readers who know me may not be surprised that I anticipated this trip in something of a negative mood! Quite apart from my personal issues, I sometimes wonder whether the myth of the Magna Carta being the start of world-wide universal human rights was just an excuse to placate the memories of a group of notables who were already doing quite well thank you.

At Runnymede, I was enchanted by the willow weavings on display. One, a giant male torso was almost Grecian in its magnificence and contrasted with a larger group of almost random figures which were attractive but much looser in style. It turns out that the torso had been done by a professional artist and the others by students under her tuition. They were all in a wild meadow and the overall impression to me was I suppose what is meant by mindfulness.

Two single-storey buildings by a green sward

Straddled across the meads are a set of symmetrical buildings by that magnificent architect Sir Edwin Lutyens. Every detail of his work was given so much thought so it would be beautiful, practical, and skilfully applied. And so much more. Just to look at the excellence of everything he does is another example of mindfulness.

As for the human rights issue! I challenged several of the NT volunteers with my superior knowledge of the great “con trick”! They had met people like me before! They gently reminded me of the great works produced by the Phoenicians who did introduce some genuine rights to Jewish people and many groups we might recognise as being minorities nowadays, of the slow but gradual development of Human Rights practice and the great works of brave people who were almost certainly thought of as troublemakers by the establishments of their time. I had better say no more here as I may be drummed out for being too political!

A large brick-built Georgian House

At Hatchlands, I went walking in the parklands where I was able to indulge my temporary need for solitude. I found a magnificent viewpoint soon to be joined by a gigantic bespoke picnic table On the way back, I discovered the walled garden recently reclaimed by the NT and was delighted to come across the most splendid display of sweet peas. The variety of colours and the strength of the perfume was almost overwhelming. The Trust were selling generous bunches of sweet peas at the reception desk. I would guess that at least half a dozen found their way back to Chelmsford, leaving the coach smelling sweetly. As Lathyrus odoratus was one of my Angela’s favourite flowers, I felt enormously satisfied the way the day had turned out!

I must pay tribute to Paul and Chris for organising the day and to Marc for his outstanding driving skills.

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