Our Monday lectures are held in St George’s Hall, Blockley at 2.30pm for a 2.45pm start.


Alice Foster

John Singer Sargent and the Broadway artists

What would attract an American, the most celebrated portrait painter of the Edwardian age, to a small village in the Cotswolds? This lecture looks at the work of John Singer Sargent, explains the intriguing connection with Broadway and shows how the bohemian artists’ colony there grew and how Sargent was very much a part of the group.

Alice Foster has lectured for Oxford University’s Department of Continuing Education since 1998. She also lectures at the Ashmolean Museum, the Oxfordshire Museum in Woodstock and gives regular classes in Oxfordshire and Worcestershire. In 2004 Alice joined The Arts Society and has lectured in Great Britain and Europe, and in 2025 will give a lecture tour in Australia. Formerly President of Northleach AS, she is also President of Banbury Fine Arts Society. Since its inception in 2003 Alice has led study holidays with Learn Italy.



Justin Reay

Bodley’s buildings: the architecture of the Bodleian Library complex at Oxford

The Bodleian Library is one of the greatest academic institutions, its constituent libraries across Oxford creating the largest academic collection of books and manuscripts in the world. At the heart of the city’s university is the central Bodleian complex, begun in the 15th century and completed in 2015, presenting a fascinating lexicon of architectural styles and tastes and providing solutions to changing academic demands. Justin will take us from the medieval grace of the Divinity School and the magical Duke Humfrey’s Library through Thomas Bodley’s quirky Old Bodleian, the stylistically anachronistic but historic Convocation House, Hawksmoor’s neo-Classical Clarendon Building and Gibbs’s iconic Radcliffe Camera to Giles Gilbert Scott’s cyclopean New Bodleian (now redesigned as the high tech Weston Library), a unique art historical journey through time and space in the heart of academia.

After officer service in the Royal Navy, Justin Reay enjoyed a long career in management before studying the History of Art and Architecture at the University of Oxford. In 2006 he became a senior academic manager for the Bodleian Library, gaining an intimate knowledge of the Central Bodleian buildings. He edited the Bodleian’s collection of Samuel Pepys’s naval papers and is completing a study of the architecture of the Admiralty buildings in London. Now retired from the University, Justin is a consultant in maritime art and naval history to the Bodleian and advises other academic and media institutions.


Susan Kay-Williams

Embroidery from Opus Anglicanum to the eighteenth century gentleman’s suit

This lecture will take us from the earliest days of embroidery in this country through several high points in the art. Opus Anglicanum, literally meaning English work, was sought out by Popes and considered the best embroidery in the mediaeval western world. In the 16th century embroidery was worked by Queens (Katherine of Aragon, Mary Queen of Scots and Elizabeth I) before new influences arrived from the east in the 17th century when exquisite embroidered pieces were made by girls of just 11 or 12. Botanic art that could be rendered in water colours or silk threads was the height of fashion in the 18th century and the man’s three piece suit was launched, complete with silk shading embroidery.

Susan Kay-Williams is Chief Executive of the Royal School of Needlework, based at Hampton Court Palace. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and the Chartered Institute of Marketing and in 2015 was made a Fellow of the Society of Dyers and Colourists in recognition of her work on the history of dyes. Susan has a longstanding interest in textiles, especially colour, and published her first book, ‘The Story of Colour in Textiles’ (Bloomsbury) in 2013. She has extensive lecturing experience and has been invited to lecture in the USA, Canada, China, Japan and Taiwan as well as for the V&A and across the UK.

MONDAY 20 MAY 2024

Louise Schofield

Travels with a trowel: adventures of an archaeologist

In the year 2000, having been a Curator in the British Museum for 13 years, Louise decided to escape. Given a trowel with a diamond
and silver casing in the handle as a leaving present, she set off on a series of extra­ordinary archaeological adventures. In this richly illustrated talk she will take you with her to a mysterious and atmospheric ancient city on the coast of southern Albania, to the banks of the two great rivers of Mesopotamia – the Euphrates and the Tigris – and then to the wild and wonderful mountains of northern Ethiopia.

Louise Schofield is an archaeologist and lecturer. She was Curator of Greek Bronze Age and Geometric Antiquities at the British Museum from 1987-2000. Since then she has and continues to write, lecture and run international archaeological projects, previously in south eastern Turkey, Greece and Albania and currently in Ethiopia. Her current archaeological site in Tigray province is a temple, probably dedicated to a moon god and dating to the fifth century BC. She has recently been appointed Visiting Professor of Archaeology at the American University of Rome.


James Campbell

Shepard’s war

Famous for his collaboration with AA Milne in creating the Winnie-the-Pooh books, E H Shepard’s artistic journey through the First World War is less well known. From jocular cartoons in Punch as a civilian to dark and impactful images of death and destruction on the western front, this lecture will demonstrate how Shepard’s own artistic style and approach changed and was influenced by the conflict. It will show a range of cartoons, drawings, watercolours, annotated maps and guides for the Intelligence Corps, as well as commercial work for the home market in which we will observe a transition towards the simple economy of line and expression exemplified by the Winnie-the-Pooh illustrations started shortly after the end of the war.

James Campbell has an MA in the History of Art and a particular interest in the
work of the artist, illustrator and cartoonist E H Shepard (1879-1976). He has
been lecturing for over twenty years and has lectured across the UK and overseas to community groups, literary festivals, art societies, military museums and to private clubs and societies. His books Shepard’s War and The Art of Winnie-the-Pooh were published in 2015 and 2017 respectively. He is currently working on a joint biography of A A Milne and E H Shepard commissioned for the centenary of the Winnie-the-Pooh books in 2025.


Jeremy Mainwaring-Burton

The Queen Mother’s lifelong love of jewellery

Having had access to the jewels designated as Heirlooms of the Crown and with a spectacular collection of her own, the Queen Mother had so much jewellery to choose from over the course of her long life that it would be almost impossible to describe it all. So in this talk Jeremy Mainwaring-Burton will chronicle the Queen Mother’s passion for jewels by concentrating on a selection of items of particular gemmological and historic interest and the intriguing stories attached to them.

On leaving Durham University with a degree in geology, Jeremy Mainwaring-Burton spent five years in the Irish Guards, the last two and a half of which were on secondment to Clarence House as equerry to the Queen Mother. As a geologist, he could not help but notice the magnificent gemstones in the Queen Mother’s jewellery and, on admiring a piece, he was sometimes handed it by its wearer for a closer look. He went on to work as an exploration geologist in South Africa and a gold miner in California followed by several years as a jewellery and precious stone dealer in London’s Hatton Garden. When the Queen Mother died in 2002 Jeremy helped to open the Castle of Mey to the public.


Tessa Boase

London’s lost department stores

London’s sumptuous Victorian and Edwardian department stores changed the capital and changed its women. Shoppers of every rank were lavishly wooed, seduced and often undone by the temptations laid out before them in these new ‘cathedrals of desire’.
Starting on Oxford Street’s ‘golden mile’, we will set off on a cultural tour of the capital’s big stores – from snooty Marshall & Snelgrove, to Pontings ‘House of Value’; from Kennards’ wart-removal service to the live flamingos atop Derry & Toms; from Bodgers of Ilford to Bon Marché of Brixton.
How did it feel to enter a great store in 1850 – and in 1950? What was it like to serve? From shoppers to shop girls, publicity stunts to wow factor window dressing this lecture aims to present a fascinating slice of social history with wonderful period images.

Tessa Boase is a freelance journalist, author, lecturer and campaigner with an interest
in uncovering the stories of invisible women from the 19th and early 20th centuries, revealing how they drove industry, propped up society and influenced politics. She is the author of three books of social history: The Housekeeper’s Tale: The Women Who Really Ran the English Country House (2014); Etta Lemon: The Woman Who Saved the Birds (first published as Mrs Pankhurst’s Purple Feather in 2018), and London’s Lost Department Stores: A Vanished World of Dazzle and Dreams (2022). Since uncovering the feminist origins of the RSPB, Tessa has been campaigning for public recognition of its female founders with plaques, portraits and a statue.


Simon Seligman

Julie Brook

Many viewers of a BBC4 profile of artists who work out in nature, presented by Dr James Fox, were haunted by the fire stacks of the only female artist featured, Julie Brook. Simon’s lecture explores this fascinating artist and the range of her work over four decades in some of the world’s wild places, centred always on her passion for the islands and coast of West Scotland where she lives. From drawings, oil painting and film to her powerful physical interventions in the landscapes of Britain, North Africa and Japan that engage with the elements of earth, air, fire and water, Julie Brook’s work takes its place alongside such pioneers as Andy Goldsworthy, David Nash and Richard Long.
Simon knows Julie well and has access to her archive including never before seen photographs of her work. The lecture, which charts her career, will include fragments from her astonishing art films.

Simon Seligman studied art and architectural history at Warwick University. For 19 years until 2010, he worked at Chatsworth in a variety of roles, latterly as Head of Communications. He has lectured about Chatsworth, the Devonshire Collection and associated topics throughout the UK and on several US tours. Alongside his lecturing, he is a Life Coach in private practice, and works part time for John Ruskin’s charity the Guild of St George.


Alice Foster

The art of partying: a feast for the eyes

We have always enjoyed social gatherings and, as Christmas approaches, we kick off the festive season with this lecture that traces people having fun throughout the ages from Roman times to the present. Through a number of themes, beginning with children learning to party through playing together to courtship and marriage, dinner parties, dancing and finally a bit of excess drinking (the gods of mythology were famous for it), Alice will trace a variety of merrymaking, banqueting, dances and music in a feast of colour.

Alice Foster has lectured for Oxford University’s Department of Continuing Education since 1998. She also lectures at the Ashmolean Museum, the Oxfordshire Museum in Woodstock and gives regular classes in Oxfordshire and Worcestershire. In 2004 Alice joined The Arts Society and has lectured in Great Britain and Europe, and in 2025 will give a lecture tour in Australia. Formerly President of Northleach AS, she is also President of Banbury Fine Arts Society. Since its inception in 2003 Alice has led study holidays with Learn Italy.