Bristol Section Programme of lectures Winter 2023-2024


All talks will take place in the Apostle Room, Clifton Cathedral, Pembroke Road, BS8 3BX and will commence at 19.45. Tea and coffee are available from 19.15. Off-street parking is available and Number 8 buses run close by.

Monday 25 September: ‘Hillfields Homes for Heroes: the story of Bristol’s first council estate’

Peter Insole (Principal Historic Environment Officer, Bristol City Council).

Following the First World War, the British government sought to tackle the country’s housing shortage through the introduction of the Housing Act in 1919. This national act and its successors have substantially shaped the city’s landscapes and its urban hinterland. Studying the development of the first council estate in Bristol sheds light on government and municipal aspirations at the time and how this led to a landscape legacy, not just in Hillfields but across the city and wider country. A great deal of this research resulted from a community learning project during the centenary celebrations in 2019-20.

Monday 23 October: ‘The Vale of Berkeley Railway’

Howard Parker.

Monday 27 November: ‘Bristol before Bristol: evidence for pre-historic and early historic landscapes beneath the city centre.’

Professor Keith Wilkinson (University of Winchester)

While the archaeology of medieval and later Bristol is relatively well known, knowledge of pre-historic and later historic landscapes that preceded the city is more limited. However, redevelopment of central Bristol since the 1990s and in particular the geoarchaeological and geotechnical work that has preceded it, have enabled the nature and age of Bristol’s pre-urban environment to be reconstructed.

Monday 22 January: ‘Keynsham Abbey: key events and characters’

Elaine Cook (History and Archaeology Society, Bristol)

A stroll through the history of Keynsham Abbey, once one of the most powerful and wealthy of the English medieval abbeys. As well of some of the major events in Keynsham Abbey’s history, we shall look at some of its people such as William Earl of Gloucester and his daughter Isabella, the first wife of King John; Henry Stafford, Duke of Buckingham, who was widely thought to have been responsible for the death of the Princes in the Tower; and Sir Jasper Tudor, uncle to Henry VII, whose funeral procession brought Keynsham to a standstill.

Monday 26 February: ‘Leisure Towns: Bath and the Bristol Hotwell in the eighteenth century’

Alan Clarke

In this talk, we look at the rise, the brief heyday and the slow decline of the Hotwells Spa, comparing it with its more durable neighbour, Bath, and placing both in the context of the eighteenth century culture of urban and social improvement.

Monday 18 March: ‘Sieges of Bristol in the English Civil War 1642-46’

Richard Stride