All the talks take place on a Wednesday in the Mead Hall in East Lane, Wheathampstead

       (behind The Bull, next to the free car park, starting at 7.30 pm).

         Admission is £1.00 for members and £3.00 for non-members and guests.



NB Following discussion at our meeting in March, it was decided to start talks at 7.30 and not to offer tea and coffee.

Note: Members of the Society are reciprocal members of the Welwyn Archaeological Society with free access

to their meetings. Click here for the WAS programme.


17 January


  Peter Burley "Two Royal Burials in St Albans"

In this, the first talk of our 2018 programme, Peter reminded us that Humphrey, 1st Duke of Gloucester (1390-1447), son, brother and uncle of kings, is buried in St Albans Cathedral. His splendid tomb, which is next to the shrine of St Alban, was lost for many years but rediscovered in 1703. However, it is less well known that there was - and may still be - a second royal burial at the Cathedral, that of Edmund Beaufort, 2nd Duke of Somerset, who was killed in the First Battle of St Albans (1455) and buried in the Lady Chapel. His remains are not there now and   Peter has been researching what may have happened to them. Telling the stories   of each of these two men in their historical context, Peter presented his theory of where in the   Cathedral precincts Somerset's grave is located.   

21 February


Rudi Newman "From Scythes to Suburbia: the Socio-economic Impacts of the Coming of the                                Railways to the Chilterns"

In this detailed and informative talk, Dr Newman's core thesis was that the railways that were built in the years of 'railway mania' in the mid-19th century, facilitated and quickened social and economic changes that were already happening, rather than causing them. After a brief account of the history of the railways in this period. Dr Newman focused on three main areas of socio-economic change - population, occupation and urbanisation, and land use and ownership. The full text of this talk can be found here.  

21 March


Kate Morris "Behind Closed Doors: the Inside Story of some St Albans Buildings"   

After a 'whistle-stop' history of the major buildings of St Albans from Roman times to the present day, Kate showed how changing economic and business activity in the town from the 18th century onwards influenced the building of great houses and the families who lived in them, such as 3,High Street (now Cote restaurant), Ivy House (see picture), Romeland House, St Michael's Manor, Bleak House (aka Dalton's Folly'), and several more. Kate's book 'St Albans in 50 Buildings' was published by Amberley Publishing in February.

18 April


Philip Sheail "The 3rd Earl Cowper's Grand Tour: 1756 - 1760"

George Nassau Clavering-Cowper, 3rd Earl Cowper (1738 - 1789) made his Grand Tour of Europe in the company of a tutor after leaving Eton. Unlike other Grand Tourers, he settled in Florence and seldom returned to England. His descendants became owners of Panshanger in Welwyn and hence of large areas of land around Wheathampstead in the 19th century.


The talk will be preceded by a short Annual General Meeting of the Society.

16 May


  Jane Kelsall "Christina of Markyate: c.1096 - 1155/60"

Christina of Markyate came from a wealthy Anglo-Saxon family in Huntingdon and was devoutly Christian from childhood. Escaping from an unwelcome marriage, she became an anchoress at Markyate and, later, prioress at St Albans Abbey. Markyate Priory was established in 1145. 


 20 June



 Andy Gibbs "The Poor Child's Friend: Joseph Lancaster's Educational Revolution"

Joseph Lancaster was a pioneer of elementary education for the poor in the early 19th century. He developed the 'monitorial' method of teaching and learning whereby one pupil would pass on what they had learned to another. This method would have been used in the school that opened on The Hill in Wheathampstead in 1815. Click here for more about this school.

 Sunday 1 July


 Clive Hammersley of the Battlefields Trust will lead a walk around Devil's Dyke, one of the possible sites of Julius Caesar's battle with Cassivellaunus. He will also discuss Caesar's campaign and other possible sites of the final battle. The walk will take in the public areas of Wheathampstead's Belgic Oppidum and some of its immediate surroundings. All are welcome to attend. However, costs are £5.00 for non-members of the Battlefields Trust.

18 July


  Members' Evening: a chance to share your history research

 Many members of the Society have a story to tell about research they have done, or are doing.   It may be about your family, or local history, or national history. This is your chance to tell us   about your work and what you have found. Please contact us if you would like to take part.




19 September 


  Elizabeth Eastwood "Constance and Mary: the Battle for Female Suffrage: Lady Constance   Bulwer Lytton and Mary Augusta Ward"

Constance Bulwer-Lytton (1869 - 1923) was a daughter of the 1st Earl of Lytton who became Viceroy of India. She was a political activist in the fields of prison reform, birth control and, particularly, female suffrage.

Mary Augusta Ward (also known as novelist Mrs Humphry Ward) was vigorously opposed to women having the vote and was founding president of the Women's Anti-Suffrage League. 

17 October




21 November


  Members' Evening: a chance to share your history research

 This is another opportunity for members of the Society to tell us about the research you have   done, or are doing. It may be about your family, or local history, or national history. Please   contact us if you would like to take part.

19 December


  Christmas party 

Our annual fish-and-chip supper. Members are invited to bring along an object of historical interest and tell us all about it. Please let us know that you would like to come so we can plan the catering etc.   email


Click here for links to our neighbouring History Societies, all of which have their own programmes of events.