10 JUNE 2019

Did the Ancient Greeks know about the Golden Rectangle?

With a Golden Rectangle, if you lop off a square, you’re left with another Golden Rectangle. The ratio is about 1.618 : 1. This is the Golden Ratio. A mathematician will get excited at this point about the Fibonacci sequence & irrationality. But most of us aren’t mathematicians.

John SherlockAn engineer by training, he now runs his own business advising the owners of historic houses and landscapes, counting the National Trust & the Crown Estate among his clients.

1 JULY 2019

Monet: ‘the Joy and the Torment’

The driving force of Impressionism, ambitious & stubborn, he was gifted with an astonishing technical ability & precise observation. A founding artist of the Impressionists, fame & success came finally at Giverny.

Douglas Skeggs is a writer, artist and TV Presenter. He lectures to many London art courses, is Director of the New Academy of Arts, & is a novelist. 

2 SEPT 2019


‘Debo’ – Mitford, Cavendish, Devonshire Duchess, Housewife, 1920-2014

Marriage took ‘Debo’, youngest of the Mitford sisters & wife of the 11th Duke of Devonshire, to Chatsworth. With Lismore Castle & Bolton Abbey too, no wonder she stated her job as ‘housewife’. Her charm was in her stoic Mitfordian perspective, curiosity, stylish beauty, quick wit & delight in life.

Simon Seligman is an art & architectural historian. From 1991-2010 he worked at Chatsworth & lectures widely about it. He gave numerous public presentations & interviews with the late Du 




Turbulent Times: Russian History as depicted by its 19thC Realist Painters

Russia from 1850s was a cultural powerhouse, the novelists (Tolstoy, Dostoevsky...) & composers (Mussorgsky, Tchaikovsky...) well known. The painters are not, but the period saw a new realist school of art, the “Itinerants”; the talk explores its interactions with the vast, unruly Russia that it both loved & detested.

Sir Tony Brenton is a distinguished British diplomat & commentator on public affairs, having been British Ambassador to Russia through a particularly tense time in UK/Russia relations. His book Historically Inevitable? on the Russian revolution was published in 2016. 



Canal History and Heritage

Only the Church of England & the National Trust have more listed buildings than our canals. Everything on the waterways was built with a purpose though a well-known architectural historian once described this remarkable working heritage as a ‘poor man’s sculpture’!

Roger Butler is a landscape architect, writer, photographer & lecturer with a keen interest in the heritage of our canal network. He is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. 



That Pretty German Toy - Musings on the Christmas Tree

It is arguably the icon of our midwinter celebrations, yet how much do we actually know about its origins? The talk delves as far back as the Book of Genesis to tell the story of this ‘German toy’, as Dickens described it. The talk is illustrated throughout with music.

Peter Medhurst is a musician & scholar, giving recitals & illustrated lectures on music & the arts. He studied singing & early keyboard instruments at the Royal College of Music & at the Mozarteum in Salzburg. He makes a welcome return visit to our Society. 



The Subtle Science and Exact Art of Colour in Garden Design

Gertrude Jekyll wrote: “remember that in a garden we are painting a picture”. As an accomplished watercolourist, she was familiar with the principles of using colours. This talk looks at how to apply these principles in designing a border; but a border is different from a painting.

Timothy Walker is a highly experienced public lecturer, former director of the Oxford University Botanic Garden, & latterly tutor at Somerville College Oxford



Raphael: A master in the making. 2020 marks the 500th anniversary of Raphael’s death - one of the 3 giants of High Renaissance Italy, alongside Michelangelo & Leonardo da Vinci. From humble beginnings in Urbino, he achieved extraordinary status. The talk explores early works & influences, to the masterpieces he created in Rome.

Siân Walters lectures at the National Gallery & The Wallace Collection & taught at Surrey University, specialising in C15th & C16th Italian painting.



A Life in Fashion: The Wardrobe of Cecil Beaton. When Cecil Beaton died in 1980, one of his tailors was telephoned with the news before Buckingham Palace, despite his close links with the Royal Family. From his youth Beaton expressed a flamboyant sartorial nonchalance.

Benjamin Wild, FRHistS, specialises in the history of dress. He convenes courses for the V & A, was guest lecturer at the Condé Nast College of Fashion & Design, & is consultant lecturer at the Sotheby's Institute of Art.

11 MAY


Insiders/Outsiders: Refugees from Nazi Europe and their contribution to British Visual Culture

Despite the trauma of dislocation & the obstacles encountered on arrival in the UK, those who fled here from Nazi-dominated Europe in the 1930s & ‘40s made a pervasive, long-lasting contribution to British culture. Focussing on the visual arts, this lecture examines the nature of this contribution.

Monica Bohm-Duchen is a London-based freelance lecturer, writer & exhibition organizer. She has lectured for Tate, the National Gallery, the Royal Academy of Arts, the Open University, Sotheby's Institute of Art & the Courtauld Institute of Art, & is creative director of the Insiders/Outsiders Festival (