Events, Talks and Exhibitions

Talks

All talks take place in the Cherry Hall, with tickets on the door at £3.00.  Those joining as members in January 2020 may attend all 6 talks for £10.00.

Postponement of Talks

With much regret, we have postponed the talks for March and April by Charlie East and Dr. Katherine Watson, owing to concerns about the possible spread of the Coronavirus. Those who have paid £10 for 6 talks will not lose out. We hope to reschedule the lectures later; should this have to be in 2021, membership fees will be adjusted. The next talk is booked for SEPTEMBER.

Below is a list of planned talks, dates will be assigned when we have them.

Date TBC The Kennet and Avon Canal, Past and Present Charles East, Volunteer Boatmaster.
Date TBC Crime, Medicine and Science in History Dr. Katherine D. Watson, Reader in History, Oxford Brookes University
Date TBC Harwell through the Camera Lens Eric Jenkins, Professional Photographer
Date TBC Talk by a member of the MG Car Club, title to be announced TBC
Date TBC “The Great Stink!” Engineers, sewerage systems and the Victorian battle against dirt Dr. Tom Crook, Senior Lecturer in History, Oxford Brookes University

Displays in the Village Hall Heritage Centre/Foyer

2020 sees many interesting anniversaries and initially we have displayed posters on three with local resonance.

1) The publication of Agatha Christie’s first novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, in 1920. Christie, a long-time resident in
Winterbrook near Wallingford, is buried in Cholsey Churchyard.

2) ‘Planes from RAF Harwell took part in the Battle of France; the airfield was raided during the Battle of Britain seventy years ago (1940).

3) In 1120 King Henry I’s son William drowned when the White Ship sank off the French coast. This area strongly supported his
remaining heir Matilda in her struggle for the crown against her cousin Stephen (1135-54). Prince’s Manor, Harwell, belonged to her loyal supporter Reginald II of St. Valery. His lands were confiscated by Stephen, but returned to him by Matilda’s son Henry II (1155-88).   In the glass display cabinets is a small exhibition of contemporary cartoons relating the Battle of Britain and the RAF in the 1940s.

Reginald/Reynald/Renaud II of St. Valery – a Harwell crusader

We’ve discovered that Reginald went to the Middle East as a crusader in the 1150s,
becoming Lord of Harenc (in Syria) in the crusade state of Antioch. He returned to the west c.1160-1164. Reginald held  23½ different English  manors, and we cannot know whether he ever set foot here, but Prince’s Manor, a rich fief, contributed to his wealth and power. Therefore we intend to find out more about him; display to follow!

Looking ahead:

For 2021, planned talks include: The Monarch’s Way (Charles II’s escape route after the Battle of Worcester) which is
currently being walked by a Harwell resident; those
commemorated in Oxfordshire Blue Plaques, and on The Great Fire of Harwell 1852.

Work in progress includes research on the Geering Almshouses, the Harwell Site, Harwell’s schools, and the church’s monuments. The group is dreadfully short of researchers – if there is anyone out there who can help, PLEASE get in touch!

If there is anyone out there who is knowledgeable on the history of St. Matthew’s in particular, we would love to hear from you!  Please contact us on harwellhistorygroup@gmail.com

We are also exploring with the Harwell Film Club the possibility of showing some of the British Film Institute’s films (c. 1910-1960s) on aspects of life in Britain.

The Monument to Francis and Grace King in Harwell Parish Church

Monument to Francis and Grace King

All the monuments on St. Matthew’s walls and floor have been photographed. Tucked up on the right hand side of the bell-tower, in the area currently used as a vestry, is an interesting monument rather obscured by disrepair and its height above eye-level. Some clever photography by Dave Drummond managed to make legible, most of the Latin inscription, which we have translated. The monument was erected by their son John, “grieving”, and reads (we think):

“Sacred to the memory of Francis King. He adorned with complete goodness all one would wish in a husband and parent. Near/next to whom lies his wife Grace, in no way unworthy     (i.e. VERY worthy) of such a man. Departed from this constrained life with the hope of a better (one), she on 11th March in the year of our Saviour 1758 aged 78, he on 2nd September in the year of our Saviour 1743 aged 69. Peace.

JMC. harwellhistorygroup@gmail.com

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