Hughenden: annual outing
Aug
2
8:45 am08:45

Hughenden: annual outing

This year's outing is to Hughenden, located in in a lovely valley in the Chilterns a few miles from High Wycombe, which was the country home of Benjamin Disraeli, Queen Victoria's favourite Prime Minister, and his wife Mary Anne. In 1804, Disraeli was born at what was then 6 King's Road, which as present-day 22 Theobalds Road, near Holborn Library, is marked with an LCC brown plaque. His parents, writer Isaac and Maria, went to live there 1802-1817 (his four siblings were also born there). The family then lived at 6 Bloomsbury Square from 1817-29, which is recorded by a Bedford Estate plaque. Well-known at first as a novelist, Disraeli was serving as Tory MP for Buckinghamshire when he bought Hughenden Manor. In 1862, the house was 'remodelled' by E B Lamb, the idiosyncratic architect of St Martin's, Gospel Oak. Nonetheless, the house and its contents offer insights into Disraeli's personal and political life, and into its later use as 'Hillside', a secret map-making organisation during World War II. There is also much to explore out of doors: formal and walled gardens, pleasure grounds, and woodland and parkland, where, if we can find it, there is a "champion tree", the UK's largest horse chestnut.

The price per person for coming on the outing is £24 (National Trust members), £34 (NT non-members), to include travel and tip, admission charge (NT non-members), and introductory talk with tea/coffee. No other refreshments are included in the price. The Stableyard cafe serves hot lunches 12-2.30; also sandwiches, cakes and drinks throughout the day; or you are welcome to bring a picnic. Other themed talks (e.g. about Operation Hillside, including visit to the Ice House) and an exhibition on Disraeli the author are available at no extra charge.

There will be three pick-up points, departing promptly as follows:

Camden High Street, outside Marks & Spencer 8.45am  

Hampstead High Street, outside Waterstones  9.00am

Swiss Cottage, outside Swiss Cottage Library  9.15am  

A  booking form was enclosed with the May 2017 Newsletter. The outing is being organised by Jean Archer, 91 Fitzjohn's Avenue, London NW3 6NX. Her phone number, in case of enquiries (including from CHS non-members), is 020 7435 5490. Bookings should be sent to Jean: please enclose a cheque payable to Camden History Society and  a STAMPED ADDRESSED ENVELOPE.                                                           

 

 

Air Camden, a century (and more) of aviation heritage :: Lester Hillman
Sep
21
7:30 pm19:30

Air Camden, a century (and more) of aviation heritage :: Lester Hillman

  • Camden Local Studies and Archives Centre, Holborn Library

In his lavishly illustrated presentation, Lester Hillman will scan Camden's skies, spotting early balloon ascents and hidden clues in literature such as 'The Thirty-Nine Steps'. A century ago, in July 1917, the Germans bombed the German Gymnasium at St Pancras. Lester Hillman will explain what happened to the 'King's Cross Aerodrome That Never Was', and how V1 personalities are linked to Hampstead Town Hall, the former Midland Grand Hotel and St Pancras International. Athlone House and Agatha Christie's husband also get a look in; and VSTOL Harriers will drop into the story at RAF St Pancras.
Lester Hillman writes regularly on aviation heritage topics and has organised events for the RAF Museum at Hendon and others.

Please note the change of date for this talk.

Price: Free to members. Non members welcome (£1 at the door).

The London diary of Anthony Heap 1931-1945 :: Robin Woolven
Oct
19
7:30 pm19:30

The London diary of Anthony Heap 1931-1945 :: Robin Woolven

  • Burgh House

The son of a Gray's Inn Road dentist, lifelong St Pancras resident Anthony Heap (1910-1985) was a modestly paid accounts clerk who kept a diary for 57 years, intending it to be read: all 57 volumes are now in the London Metropolitan Archives. With actor and Gang Show producer Ralph Reader, Heap was a leading member of the Holborn Rovers in the 1930s; and his other lifetime interests were attending West End theatre 'first nights', and local and national politics. Following his father's suicide in 1933, Heap became a non-active member of Oswald Mosley's British Union of Fascists; but moving south from Camden Town to Hastings Street, he joined and unsuccessfully stood for the Municipal Reform (Conservative) Party in the 1937 local election. 

After a series of girlfriends in the early years, Heap was set on a bachelor life: he regularly spent evenings drinking with his male friends in the pubs and bars of Fitzrovia, Tottenham Court Road and Haverstock Hill. Then, in 1940, a mistress appears in the diary. Heap having been employed for 13 years in Peter Robinson's department store at Oxford Circus, he and the woman were dismissed, and she eventually decided she had to remain with her husband and children. As the Blitz opened, Heap found a clerical job in the St Pancras Town Hall, which he kept for 35 years.

Through the war years, Heap's diary becomes more useful to local historians as, leaving his air raid shelter each morning as soon as the 'all clear' was sounded, he tried to visit each local (and wider) incident to record the damage and its consequences. Those he missed, he got to in his lunch hour, at weekends, or in the course of his official travels around the borough, paying staff in their depots or when collecting council rents. In 1941, he met, courted and married a young woman, and they set up house in a flat within a stone's throw of the Town Hall, where, from 1941 he also served one night in three on duty in the ARP Control Room. Unfit for military service, Anthony Heap remained in central London and provided a remarkable record of wartime Camden, of life, the wartime theatre, rationing and eventual victory.

The edited diary is to be published by the London Record Society and Boydell in October 2017.

This talk is free to members of Camden History Society and London Record Society (with whom this is a joint meeting). Non-members welcome (£1 at the door).   

The Tunnel Through Time :: Gillian Tindall
Nov
16
7:30 pm19:30

The Tunnel Through Time :: Gillian Tindall

  • Camden Local Studies and Archives Centre, Holborn Library

The Tunnel Through Time: a new route for an old London journey is the full title of this talk and of Gillian Tindall's book on Crossrail (Chatto & Windus, 2016; paperback: Vintage, September 2017). Crossrail (or the Elizabeth Line) - London's new tube line which will open in 2018 - is simply the latest way of traversing a very old east-west route, through what was once countryside to the heart of the old City and out again. Gillian traces the course of some of these historic journeys along roads which, however altered in appearance, still follow the same patterns. Our ancestors spoke the names of ancient farms, manors and slums that today belong to our squares and tube stations. They endured the cycle of the seasons as we do; they ate, drank, laughed, worked, prayed, despaired and hoped in what are essentially the same spaces we occupy today. Archaeology uncovers actual remains; our speaker brings to light vanished lives.

Gillian Tindall is a Vice-President of Camden History Society, and has had a lifetime involvement in the history and growth of London.

Price: free to members. Non-members welcome (£1 at the door).

A Sunday stroll up Maiden Lane :: Peter Darley
Dec
14
7:30 pm19:30

A Sunday stroll up Maiden Lane :: Peter Darley

  • Burgh House

An early 19th century visitor to London on business decides on a leisurely excursion from his Holborn coaching inn. His destination is Copenhagen House, where he and others can enjoy their refreshments, the views and the entertainment. The two and a half mile walk to his destination takes him up Gray's Inn Lane, through Battle Bridge and along Maiden Lane (image courtesy of Islington Local History Centre).

The fringes of the rapidly expanding metropolis 200 years ago are observed with a lightness appropriate to a Sunday stroll. Yet their features reflect concerns that would later be raised by Charles Dickens, some still strikingly familiar today: of housing and deprivation; health and environment; transport and industry; crime and punishment; leisure and recreation; and class oppression and the mobilisation of the masses. Hear about the Fleet River, dust heaps, tile kilns and brick fields, pleasure gardens, the Smallpox Hospital, gas manufacture, Belle Isle and rookeries, the Tolpuddle Martyrs, and the origin of the game of fives.

Peter Darley is Secretary of the Camden Railway Heritage Trust, which he founded in 2007.

As this is our Christmas meeting, the talk will be preceded by mince pies and wine/fruit juice from 7pm.

Price: Free to members. Non-members welcome (£1 at the door).


Henry Crabb Robinson (1775-1867): provincial dissenter, Londoner, European :: James Vigus
Jul
20
7:30 pm19:30

Henry Crabb Robinson (1775-1867): provincial dissenter, Londoner, European :: James Vigus

  • Camden Local Studies and Archives Centre, Holborn Library

In 1845, Henry Crabb Robinson began to write his Reminiscences, an autobiographical work that was published only selectively after his death. It is now being prepared in a critical edition for the first time, using manuscripts held at Dr Williams's Library, of which Robinson was a trustee. As Robinson re-read and excerpted from his past diaries and travel journals, his Reminiscences became lengthy and substantial. He regarded his own life modestly, regretting the limited education he had received in a dissenting family in Bury St Edmunds. Yet, as a retired London barrister and member of the Athenaeum, he was now famous as an expert on German literature, and for his prominent role in the foundation of the University of London. He could look back on five years in Germany, during which he became the leading British mediator of Kant and theories of aesthetics. He had also been an adventurous journalist: covering the Peninsular War, he was the first correspondent of The Times. For the 150th anniversary of Robinson's death, this talk will retrace some of the most significant aspects of his life and writing, emphasising his development from provincial boyhood to metropolitan life - and beyond, as became one of the most prolific European travellers of his generation. Robinson's home from 1839 until his death in 1867 was in the original house at 30 Russell Square.

Dr James Vigus is Senior Lecturer in English at Queen Mary University of London. He is co-editor of the Henry Crabb Robinson Project: www.crabbrobinson.co.uk

Price: Free to members. Non-members welcome (£1 at the door). 

 

Alphonse Normandy (1809-1864), chemist and pioneer :: Debbie Radcliffe
Jun
15
7:30 pm19:30

Alphonse Normandy (1809-1864), chemist and pioneer :: Debbie Radcliffe

  • Burgh House

The full title of this illustrated talk is 'Alphonse Normandy (1809-1864): chemist, desalination pioneer and Judd Street resident'. Our speaker, Debbie Radcliffe, is resident of a house in Judd Street, which was for many years the home of Alphonse Normandy, whose 1850 handbook on chemical analysis was recommended as a guide "indispensable to the housewife as to the pharmaceutical practitioner." Dr Normandy has been largely written out of history, despite his mid 19th century reputation as an expert in food adulteration. He took out many patents during his career, including improvements to soap, inks, waterproofing fabrics, thimbles and playing cards. He was also a pioneer in desalination applications that are still in use today. 

Price: Free to members. Non-members welcome (£1 at the door). This talk is preceded at 7pm by the Society's AGM (open to CHS members only).

The Leper Hospitals of Medieval London :: Carole Rawcliffe
May
18
7:30 pm19:30

The Leper Hospitals of Medieval London :: Carole Rawcliffe

  • Camden Local Studies and Archives Centre, Holborn Library

Once seen as remote institutions for the forcible segregation and confinement of social pariahs, the medieval leper hospital has undergone a striking change of image, as a result of research conducted by historians and archaeologists over the last three decades. On the one hand, these largely suburban foundations represented a statement of communal pride, while also expressing in bricks and mortar the hard lesson to be learned from the New Testament parable of Dives and Lazarus: anyone lacking compassion for men and women whose sufferings seemed akin to those of Christ would receive short shrift in the next life. On the other hand, they offered donors and patrons, such as Queen Matilda, the founder of St Giles Hospital in c.1117/18, an opportunity to enlist the intercessionary prayers offered by cloistered lepers, which were deemed to be especially effective. It was only during the fourteenth century that leprosaria  began to serve a more strictly medical purpose, as (unfounded) fears of infection were aggravated by frequent outbreaks of plague; and even then, admission was far from compulsory. Through a study of London's eight or more leper hospitals, we can appreciate the complexity of responses to a challenging disease that was understood as much in religious as scientific terms. 

Carole Rawcliffe is Professor Emerita of Medieval History in the School of History, University of East Anglia, and author of Leprosy in medieval England (Boydell Press, 2006; pbk 2016).

This talk is free to members. Non-members welcome (£1 at the door).

Eleanor Palmer, 16th century benefactress :: Caroline Barron
Apr
20
7:30 pm19:30

Eleanor Palmer, 16th century benefactress :: Caroline Barron

  • Burgh House

The full title for this talk is 'The Search for Eleanor Palmer, d. 1558: heiress and benefactress of Kentish Town, St Pancras'. Eleanor Palmer was the daughter of Edward Cheeseman, one of Henry VII's 'New Men', who rose to be the Cofferer to the Royal Household and became a substantial landowner. His manors in Kentish Town and Chipping Barnet were inherited by Eleanor, who married first Edward Taylor (d. 1509), and then John Palmer (d. 1542). At her death, she established a charity which still provides financial help for those who need it in the parishes of Barnet and St Pancras. Is it possible to find out more about Eleanor herself?

Caroline Barron is Professor Emerita in the Department of History, Royal Holloway University of London, and President of Camden History Society.

Price: Free to members. Non-members welcome (£1 at the door). 

Streets of Bloomsbury and Fitzrovia :: Steve Denford, Ruth and David Hayes
Mar
16
7:30 pm19:30

Streets of Bloomsbury and Fitzrovia :: Steve Denford, Ruth and David Hayes

  • Camden Local Studies and Archives Centre, Holborn Library

This evening the Society launches two fully revised Streets books: Streets of Bloomsbury and Streets of Fitzrovia.  Steve Denford, Research Team leader, and Ruth and David Hayes, both members of the Team, will introduce the rich and diverse history of the two neighbouring districts of Bloomsbury and Fitzrovia. Bloomsbury has long been home to intellectuals, attracted by what is now the British Library in its former home at the British Museum, and is now an area dominated by University College London. Fitzrovia has had a sightly more racy reputation as the home of artists and bohemians, though the well-known Bloomsbury Group flitted between both areas.

Our talks tonight will highlight some more unusual and lesser known aspects of the two districts, to give a flavour of the latest additions to the Society's popular Streets series. Both volumes will be on sale at the meeting.

Price: Free to members. Non-members welcome (£1 at the door). 

 

 

 

Played in Camden, Camden's sporting heritage :: Simon Inglis
Feb
16
7:30 pm19:30

Played in Camden, Camden's sporting heritage :: Simon Inglis

  • Burgh House

Charting the sporting and recreational heritage of a borough at play - Camden may lack any professional or senior sports clubs, but it has a rich and varied sporting heritage. In this illustrated lecture, Simon Inglis, editor of the English Heritage series Played in Britain and author of Played in London, traces the roots and routes of sporting development in the area, taking in early bowling greens and swimming pools of Holborn and St Pancras, gymnasiums in and around Marylebone (predating the German Gymnasium), rugby in Hampstead - birthplace of the famous Harlequins – and cricket in St John's Wood.  He will also revisit Camden's lidos, the last Old English Skittles Alley in London and other forgotten or little known locations with a sporting connection.

Resident in the borough since 1986, Simon Inglis has written a number of books on sporting history and heritage, and is best known for his research on football grounds and stadiums.. For a taste of his work, see www.playedinbritain.co.uk. He lectures regularly around the country and says that the most common remark he hears after events is along the lines of 'Do you know I hate sport, but had no idea it was so interesting...'  Signed copies of Played in London and other Played in Britain titles will be available at a discount on the evening.

Price: Free to members. Non-members welcome (£1 at the door).

20 extraordinary building projects on Primrose Hill - An illustrated talk :: Martin Sheppard
Jan
19
7:30 pm19:30

20 extraordinary building projects on Primrose Hill - An illustrated talk :: Martin Sheppard

  • Camden Local Studies and Archives Centre, Holborn Library

Martin Sheppard's latest talk introduces us to twenty extraordinary building projects planned for Primrose Hill, ranging from a full-sized replica of the Parthenon to a 100-foot high statue of Shakespeare, with other equally bizarre schemes in between. He can also explain how Primrose Hill was extremely fortunate not to become a cemetery.

As author of 'Primrose Hill: a history' (2014), Martin Sheppard has fascinated and entertained us before on duelling on Primrose Hill from 1790 - 1837 (October 2012) and on the history of this familiar yet surprising London landmark (February 2014). We look forward to hearing from him again. 

Location : Camden Local Studies and Archives Centre, Holborn Library 32-38 Theobalds Road London WC1X 8PA.
Price: Free to members. Non-members welcome (£1 at the door).

Images of Camden Past and Present :: Gillian Tindall
Dec
15
7:00 pm19:00

Images of Camden Past and Present :: Gillian Tindall

  • Burgh House

Over 50 years ago, Gillian Tindall and her husband Richard Lansdown began taking pictures of places in and around the newly-invented borough of Camden, especially in Kentish Town (where they had just bought the house in which they still live) but also in Camden Town and a few around King’s Cross. They photographed surviving old houses, small shops that struck them even then as old-fashioned, and also places they knew or suspected would soon disappear under new development. By and by they also photographed new phenomena – cafés, photocopying shops, discount stores – not in a very organised way as they were both pursuing busy careers. Over the course of 20 years they amassed several hundred pictures. They finally ran out of steam for this in the mid-1980s, by which time the comprehensive redevelopment bandwagon had done its worst and passed on, and the remaining traditional streets of Camden were beginning to look brighter and cleaner.

The photos (all in the form of transparent slides) slept in a dark cupboard for a further 30 years, till the Lansdowns decided that something Must Be Done about them. They had always intended the pictures as an archival record, so, with considerable labour and the aid of an ancient slide projector, they sorted them, keeping about 200. Gillian then spent weeks identifying the exact places, recording changes in shops and so forth, and now the whole has been given to Camden Local Studies and Archives, where they have been digitised.

The couple retained images of some 30 slides, Richard took a few more pictures of especially interesting sites to create a `Then and Now' record, which will be presented in this talk by Gillian.

The talk will be preceded by mince pies and a glass of wine or juice.

Price: Members free. Non-members welcome (£1 at the door). 
 

Filmed in Camden :: Danny Nissim
Nov
17
7:30 pm19:30

Filmed in Camden :: Danny Nissim

  • Camden Local Studies and Archive Centre

In this talk the film buff Danny Nissim will be looking at some films shot on location in Camden in the decade after the Second World War.  In Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘The Man Who Knew Too Much’ we see James Stewart tussling with a taxidermist in Camden Town.

In the much-loved Ealing comedy ‘The Ladykillers’ starring Alec Guinness we see how a house poised precariously next to the Copenhagen railway tunnel suddenly seems to shift location a mile or so south and we trace the getaway route from a mail van robbery through streets between St Pancras and King’s Cross which no longer exist.

In ‘Train of Events’, a lesser known Ealing drama, Jack Warner plays a station master who lives in a terraced house on St Pancras Way, long since demolished. We’ll see how these locations have changed – some almost beyond recognition – in the intervening decades.

Price: Members free. Non-members welcome £1 at the door.

When Sigismund came to dine :: Lester Hillman
Oct
20
7:30 pm19:30

When Sigismund came to dine :: Lester Hillman

  • Burgh House

King Sigismund, future Holy Roman Emperor, visited local resident William Bruges, England’s first Garter King of Arms. There was a stupendous feast in Kentish Town at Whitsun 1416. Six hundred years on, Lester Hillman explores the visit and post-Agincourt peace negotiations. The feasting, drama, music, dazzling ceremonial and colourful personalities have left faint echoes in and around today’s Camden.

Our speaker has been organising events in London, Cambridge and elsewhere over the last decade - leading walks, lecturing, writing and supporting archive projects associated with this subject. He is the Academic Adviser to the Society's sister organisation in Islington and to the Camden Tour Guides Association.

Price: Members free. Non-members welcome (£1 at the door).