The Kirtlington Historical Society, which was founded in 1994, meets on the fourth Thursday of each month from September until April (December excepted) to hear and discuss talks on a wide range of topics, including archaeology and literary and art history as well as themes relating to political and social history. The siege of Malta in the Second World War, satirical cartoons, the Mary Rose, and the authorship of Shakespeare’s works are among the topics covered in previous years. Although the Society is mainly concerned with general history, there have also been several talks on the history of Kirtlington from the time of Victoria onwards. Talks are not aimed at a specialist audience, and interest is more important than prior knowledge: the Society seeks to show that the study of history can be more fascinating than some people remember it to have been at school. The last meeting each session is a members’ evening: this has taken various forms, but on the last occasion members were invited to speak for five minutes each about a historical character who had taken their fancy.
The Society attracts members from neighbouring villages as well as from Kirtlington, and in light of the current membership it has been renamed The Kirtlington and Bletchington Historical Society.
The programme for 2021-2022 is as follows. We look forward very much to meeting face-to-face once again in the newly refurbished Village Hall at Kirtlington. All meetings begin at 7.30pm.
Thursday September 23rd: We’ll start the new season with a celebratory drink and suitably themed refreshments to accompany Tim Healey’s talk on “Apples: The Myth and Mystery of England’s Favourite Fruit”.
Thursday October 28th: Mark Davies, an Oxford local historian and guide, will speak to us about “James Sadler: Oxford pastry cook and First English Aeronaut”. Sadler was the first Englishman to build and fly a hot-air balloon, in Oxford in 1784, and he landed only a few miles from Kirtlington!
Thursday November 25th: “You Couldn’t Make It Up! The challenges and charms of writing historical fiction” Our own Haydn Middleton will be in conversation with novelist Tim Pears. Tim Pears is the author of eleven novels, including In the Place of Fallen Leaves, which won the Hawthornden Prize 1994, In a Land of Plenty (made into a ten-part drama series for the BBC, broadcast in 2001) and Landed (shortlisted for the Ondaatje Prize and the IMPAC Award).
Thursday January 27th: Tom Crook starts off the new year with his talk “The Great Stink – Engineers, Sewerage Systems and the Victorian Battle against Dirt”. Tom is Reader in Modern British History at Oxford Brookes University.
Thursday February 24th: Christopher Metcalfe, Lobel Fellow in Classics at Queen’s College Oxford, and Kirtlington resident, has agreed to give us his intriguingly titled talk “Tales of Kings and Cup-Bearers in History and Myth”.
Thursday March 24th: “The Vikings” are back in the programme ten years after we last heard about them. David Griffiths, Professor of Archeology in Oxford University’s Department of Continuing Education, will be helping us to expand our knowledge of Viking studies, including points of local/Oxfordshire interest.
Thursday April 28th: Annual General Meeting and Members’ Evening.
All are very welcome.
Members’ annual subscription remains at £10. Visitors pay £2 per meeting.