Ealing Branch of the Historical Association,  Programme for 2018-19

Meetings are held at 7.30pm on the second Tuesday of each month at Ealing Green Church, W5 5QT, with the exception of October meeting which will take place at Twyford CofE High School, Twyford Avenue, W3 9PP at 6.30 pm. [to be confirmed]


Peter Devitt (Curator, RAF Museum, Hendon) ‘The Centenary of the RAF’, 11 September 2018

Ealing Branch Historical Association talk tomorrow, Tuesday 11 September, on RAF Centenary  10. September. Stop Press
Please note that due to illness Peter Devitt is unable to give his talk in person tomorrow, Tuesday 11 September at 7.30pm at Ealing Green Church, W5 5QT. However, Dr Peter Hounsell will give a talk based around Devitt’s lecture focusing on the role of 303 (Polish) Squadron which was based at Northolt during the Battle of Britain. This should have a particular local interest to add to the centenary celebrations of the RAF. We look forward to seeing you there.

Since April 1918, the Royal Air Force has defended the United Kingdom, and defended freedom, in the air, at sea and on the ground. In its centenary year, Curator Peter Devitt will trace the RAF’s inspiring history, focusing on ‘people stories’ to help bring its operations and equipment to life. Peter will also present stories that have only recently been discovered, such as those of the RAF’s Black, Asian and LGBT personnel, which show that the Junior Service deserves to be seen as one of Britain’s most open and  progressive institutions.

Peter Devitt is an Assistant Curator working in the Archive and Library at the Royal Air Force Museum London. For over 15 years he has studied the roles of overseas and LGBT personnel in the RAF, and in 2013 he curated ‘Pilots of the Caribbean’, the award-winning exhibition produced in partnership with Black Cultural Archives. Peter is the 2D Curator and Diversity Champion for the new, innovative and exciting display ‘RAF Stories: The First 100 Years, 1918- 2018’ opening at our London site as part of the Museum’s Centenary transformation

Dr Christopher Dillon (Lecturer in Modern German History, King’s College London) ‘What Happened to Germany in November 1918?’,  9 October 2018

Dr Dillon’s research focuses on modernGermany history, particularly the Weimar and Nazi periods. He was part of the AHRC-funded project “Before the Holocaust: Pre-War Concentration Camps in Nazi Germany” at Birkbeck College, where his doctoral research analysed the significance of Dachau concentration camp as a “school of violence” for the SS.

The German Revolution of 1918/19 was controversial at the time and has remained so ever since. The Hohenzollern dynasty was brought down by a combination of battlefield pressure, war-weariness, and popular demand for constitutional reform. Historians disagree, however, on the respective contribution of these elements to the revolution. This lecture will review the evidence and consider the legacy of 1918/19 for the Weimar republican project.

Dr Claire Kennan  (Citizens Project Officer, History Dept., Royal Holloway, University of London) ‘Beyond the Ballot: Women’s Rights and the Vote’,  

13 November 2018

This talk will look at the long struggle for women’s rights and the vote from the beginnings of the campaign in the 19th century down to granting some women the vote for the first time in 1918, the first female MPs and the Equal Franchise Act of 1928. It will consider the various suffrage movements and examine the many ways in which men and women campaigned for female enfranchisement, from the pageants performed by the Actresses’ Franchise League to the militant tactics of the Women’s Social and Political Union. Finally, this talk will reflect on how the women’s suffrage movement is remembered today and some of the problems that, one hundred years later, women still face.

11 December    –    A.G.M. and Social (this will be held in the Parlour at the back of Ealing Green Church, entrance through the side ally on the left)

This will combine a short Annual General Meeting with a talk by our Chairperson Dr Peter Hounsell on Dust Ho! the London dustman in pictures, words and music. Those lucky enough to hear Peter’s musical presentation at this year’s annual conference will know that we are in for a treat.

This will be followed by a Christmas social. We will provide the drinks  but we would appreciate it if those attending could bring Christmas-style food contributions.


Dr Janet Dickinson   ‘ The Tudors and the Tiltyard’, 8 January 2019

Dr Dickinson specializes in the history of early modern England and Europe, with particular interests in cultural and political history. Her first book, Court Politics and the Earl of Essex was published in 2011. Current projects include research on the Elizabethan nobility and the last years of Elizabeth I’s life as well as court history in general. 

Royal palaces were at the heart of court life for the Tudor monarchs and their nobility throughout the sixteenth century, housing monarchs and their retinues, providing spaces for the everyday conduct of politics and government and also for much needed opportunities of leisure and entertainment for members of this courtly world. Outdoor spaces were particularly important, both for relaxation and for the opportunities that they provided for aspirant courtiers to impress their monarchs and cultivate personal as well as public relationships within the court. Tiltyards provided a key site for ceremonial display as the nobility turned out to demonstrate their prowess at arms and to emphasise their connections with the crown. This lecture will explore the significance of chivalric culture for the Tudors, from Henry VIII’s love of warfare and martial display to the refocusing of chivalric activity during Elizabeth I’s reign, providing a vital means through which aspirational young men could approach the ageing Virgin Queen. 

Margaret Willes (author of book of the same title published by Yale University Press, 2017) ‘The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn’, 12 February 2019

Margaret Willes spent her career in book publishing, latterly as Publisher at the National Trust. On her retirement, she turned to writing books, beginning with Reading Matters: Five Centuries of Discovering Books, and then turning to botanical history with Pick of the Bunch and A Shakespearean Botanical, and gardening history with The Making of the English Gardener and Gardens of the British Working Class. She is currently working on a book about the use of plants in houses in the 17th century.

Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn, the two great diarists of 17th-century England, developed a close friendship. Yet they came from two very different worlds: Evelyn from a landed gentry family, Pepys the son of a London legal tailor. They were also very different in character: Pepys was earthy and shrewd; Evelyn a devout aesthete. Their friendship was no foregone conclusion, but thrived because they were drawn to intellectual pursuits and shared an inexhaustible curiosity for life.

Margaret Willes explores their shared interests – science, travel and a love of books – and their divergent enthusiasms: Pepys for the theatre and music, Evelyn for horticulture and garden design. Through their richly documented lives she produces a portrait of England in the 17th century, and above all, of Restoration London.

Dr Lacey Wallace (Senior Lecturer in Roman History & Material Culture, University of Lincoln) ‘The People of Early Londinium: an exploration of community and diversity’,
12 March 2019

Dr Wallace is a field archaeologist with research specialisation in the later Iron Age and Roman period in northwest Europe, especially Roman Britain. Her past and current research has focussed on the origins of urbanism, rural settlement, social landscapes, and digital methods in archaeology. 

Everyone who first lived in Roman London was a newcomer—there was no significant settlement on the site before the Claudian invasion. Unlike anywhere else in the province, the first inhabitants of Londinium left their homes to come to this spot on the Thames—indigenous Britons, continental traders, craftsmen, veterans, and moneylenders were all responsible for contributing to one of the most successful urban projects in Britannia. From the materials and techniques people used to build their houses and shops to the trading networks they cultivated to glimpses of letters and contracts they tossed away, we can build up a picture of who these first inhabitants were from the archaeological evidence.

Professor Tony Badger (President Historical Association; Emeritus Paul Mellon Professor of American History; Emeritus Master of Clare College) ‘How did Martin Luther King Jr change America, 1955-2019?’, 9 April 2019

Martin Luther King’s non-violent direct action enabled an economically  and powerless African American minority to wrest change from a determined white majority in the American South. The reasons for King’s success before 1968 highlight the reasons why African Americans have found it difficult to replicate that success since 1968. The lecture attempts to draw up a balance sheet of civil rights gains and losses in today’s America. Did the first African American president extend those gains? Have those gains been eroded by the Trump administration?

Professor Gareth Stedman Jones (Queen Mary, University of London) ,’ The Communist Manifesto and after. Marx’s changing view of the end of Capitalism’, 14 May 2019

Gareth Stedman Jones FBA is Professor of the History of Ideas at Queen Mary, University of London. He was a joint founder of the History Workshop Journal. His publications range from Outcast London, Oxford, 1971, to his most recent Karl Marx: Greatness and Illusion, Allen Lane, August 2016.

 In the Communist Manifesto Marx prophesied the end of Capitalism, but the Revolutions of 1848 failed and the Manifesto was forgotten. From the 50s to the 70s Marx’s view of the end of Capitalism changed substantially. My talk will examine these shifts in Marx’s position.