Social History

We are a group of amateur historians interested in how ordinary people lived rather than the great topics of national and political history. Each month we look at some aspect of social history from any era and place. Some meetings take the form of a talk prepared by a member, sometimes we watch a DVD and other times we have an outing to a place of interest either locally or further afield.

We are a very friendly group and would welcome any new members. Please phone me before turning up for the first time though, just in case our plans have changed or it snows!

Leader: Jane Morgan / 01252 311498

Day & Time: 2nd Thursday of each month, 2 – 4pm

Venue: Main Hall, Victoria Hall, Ash Hill Road

October 2018
Please note that the planned trip to Reading has been cancelled and there will be no meeting this month.

September 2018
The first meeting of the new year was a talk by me, Jane, called “The Legacy of Heroes: The Ash War Memorial”. It featured the beginning of war memorials all over the country with particular reference to the war memorial here in Ash.

Programme and Plans 2018-19

Plans are in place for an interesting few months learning about varied aspects of social history. The season kicks off with a presentation by me, Jane, about the building of Ash War Memorial, as part of the commemoration of 100 years since the end of World War 1. After that we are planning a couple of outings; one to visit the newly refurbished Abbey Ruins in Reading and one to the Southampton area. We will look, among other subjects, at the history of ropes, find out about famous Johns and Marys, and vote for our favourite toy of all time We are very pleased that Ian Thornton-Bryar is coming to tell us about his book on the Lancashire Witches Walk.

We now have over 50 members but there is always space for more so please get in touch if you would like to come and join us.

Programme and Plans 2017-18

From September 2017 we will be meeting at The Victoria Hall in Ash Hill Road. The meetings will start at 2pm and we will incorporate a tea break before finishing at 4pm.

September 14th: “The History of Ladybird Books” – Jane
October 12th: Outing to The Museum of English Rural Life Reading
November 9th: “They’re Going to Call Her What?. A history of Christian Names” – Jane:
December 14th:  Christmas Social Meeting
January 11th: DVD – “The Way it Was; Memories of the 1930s and 40s”
February 8th: – “On the Day of my Birth” Short talks by group members
March 8th: – The History of Hot Drinks – Jenni and Jane
April 12th: “Icons of Britain” Discussion groups
May 10th: Outing to Upton House near Banbury
June 14th: A Celebration of Traditional Crafts
July 12th: DVD “The Way it Was; Memories of the 1950s and 60s”

June 2018 – A Celebration of Traditional Craft

Four people came to talk to us about their craft skills and their efforts to keep traditional crafts alive. Eileen Bunyan brought her spinning wheel and fleece and persuaded Len to have a go a spinning.

Kate Wybrow brought some exquisite embroidery and told us about the history of embroidery. Dorothy McLaughlin brought her lace pillow and showed us a beautiful lace edged tablecloth she had made and finally Len Scott shared his love of wood turning. It is lovely to know that these crafts are still alive and to see such wonderful examples.

May 2018  – Outing to Upton House

The group enjoyed a visit to this National Trust property on the borders of Oxfordshire and Warwickshire. The gardens were stunning and the house beautiful. Even the weather behaved and a good time was had by all. This photo of the gardens was taken by Lynn Cook and shows the steep kitchen garden with the chimneys of the house just visible over the ha-ha.

And this photo is of four of the group standing on the edge of the ha-ha.

April 2018 meeting – Icons of Britain

Inspired by the book edited by Bill Bryson, the social history group enjoyed a fascinating afternoon discussing ideas for our take on an “Icon of Britain”. Everyone came with an idea, we split into groups to put forward the ideas then each group contributed three suggestions. After a break for tea and biscuits we voted for our favourite. On the short list were British architecture, Wimbledon, David Attenborough, cricket, Concorde, the weather, the queen, Punch and Judy, full English breakfast, Morris Dancing and The White Cliffs of Dover but the winner was…. The red London bus.

May 2017 Meeting – Outing to Mickleham Priory

We had a wonderful day at Mickelham Priory. There was so much to see, the grounds were beautiful, the house fascinating and the staff passionate and knowledgeable. We were lucky with the weather too.

Pat and Len in the Garden

John watching the sack hoist in the watermill

Ivan proving you are never too old to be silly in a very big seat

And Eric doing the same

One of the wonderful volunteers telling us the story of the priory

Barbara, Bea and Jenni enjoying the herb garden

Robin, Carole and Dave outside the house. Taken by Ruth Hulme



March 2017

At the March meeting of the Social History Group, the focus was on mills and millers. Jane told us the history of mills from the very first wooden post mills through to the huge rolling mills in use today. We heard the story of Henry Denyer at Thursley Mill and how long forgotten mills have left their mark in place names and commonly used phrases. We ended the meeting with a couple of short films, including footage of a wind powered sawmill in Holland.

February 2017

At the meeting on February 9th, five members presented ten minute talks about events that have happened in February over the years. Helen told us about the brave ladies of Fishguard who saved the day in 1797 when over a thousand French troops attempted to conquer Britain; the last time that mainland Britain was invaded. Sheila explained the events of 1354 in Oxford when students at the university fought a street battle with local townspeople resulting in several deaths and many injuries. We were surprised to hear how the repercussions of this incident continued until very recent times. Gill looked at the first mass inoculation of children against polio with the Salk vaccine in Pittsburgh in 1954 and shared with us some of her memories of nursing children with polio in the UK. Gillian talked about Thinking Day and how it is celebrated by the Girl Guide Movement worldwide. Finally Jane looked at Richard Trevithick and the day in 1804 when he trialled the first steam powered locomotive.