I have given many talks over the past few years; mainly related to Sussex history and genealogy. My latest talk is on the history of the Lewes Workhouse building; a once imposing structure on the edge of the town, but now long-forgotten.
Although my local history talks are well-researched and factual, they often lean towards the light-hearted and entertaining, such as the talks entitled ‘A Turbulent History of Pub Life in Lewes’ (featuring myriad tales of drunken men and women in the Edwardian era), and ‘A Sporting History of Sussex: from the amazing to the bizarre’ (which takes a look at the many unusual sporting activities within the county over the past 200 years; from jingling matches to menagerie races).
I have also branched out into ‘comedy/history’ gigs, giving shorter versions of two of the above talks, but focussing more on the hilarious episodes of Victorian and Edwardian history. These I have given at The Bavard Bar and The Catalyst Club.
14th February 2024 – ‘Life as a Genealogist’ (Sussex Family History Group, Brighton)
20th February 2024 – ‘Life as a Genealogist’ (Ardingly Historical Society)
23rd April 2024 – ‘A Sporting History of Sussex: from the Amazing to the Bizarre’ (Small Dole Tuesday Club)
28th June 2024 – ‘A Sporting History of Sussex: from the Amazing to the Bizarre’ (Ringmer History Group)
11th July 2024 – ‘A Sporting History of Sussex: from the Amazing to the Bizarre’ (Wadhurst History Society)
My talks (synopses)
‘A History of Sport in Sussex; from the amazing to the bizarre’
This takes a light-hearted look at the history of sporting events in Sussex.
Sport has been a key feature of county life throughout the centuries, with cricket, football and horse racing being commonplace events, as well as the much-loved Sussex game of stoolball.
However, local village sports days were also host to many lesser-known sporting activities. These included jingling matches, menagerie races and piano bashing.
I regale the audience with tales of all these events, and more, in an entertaining and informative talk, full of wonderful photographs.
‘Life as a Genealogist’
Work as a genealogist is rarely dull. My research over the past twenty years has revealed an incredibly diverse collection of life stories, from mining communities in Wales to circus entertainers in Russia.
In this talk I discuss many aspects of my work, which are both informative and entertaining. I reveal a selection of fascinating documents discovered over the years, and regale the audience with some of the more unusual and amazing family history stories I have uncovered.
‘The History of the Lewes Workhouse Building’
In this talk I reveal the story of the impressive, but long-forgotten Lewes Union Workhouse building. Full of fascinating stories, photographs and plans, this talk takes us from the building’s construction in the 1860s, to its demolition during the 1950s.
It looks at life in the workhouse, and will also delve into the often turbulent lives of the seven workhouse masters.
The building ceased to be used as a workhouse in 1902, and the talk will look at its many subsequent uses. These include its time as the Female Inebriates’ Reformatory, which involved various daring escape attempts by some of the inmates.
The talk finishes with a look at the long-overdue demolition of the ‘black spot of Lewes’, and the subsequent plans to put something in its place.
‘A Turbulent History of Pub Life in Lewes’
Lewes was once famous for having ‘seven churches, seven breweries, and seventy pubs’. Although much has been written about Lewes pubs themselves, little has been researched on the people and goings-on within these establishments.
This talk will take an intriguing look at the landlords, landladies, and customers, and the highs and lows of the pub trade. From the smoking concerts, social clubs and family celebrations, to the mass closing of many of the town’s popular inns and taverns, causing much heartbreak for landlords and customers alike.
The high number of pubs in the town inevitably resulted in much drunkenness. This reached its height during the Edwardian period, and many an amusing tale will be told about the drunken behaviour (by both men and women) at that time.