Taking four aspects of Elizabeth court culture, Alison’s lecture explores the richness of sixteenth-century royal and aristocratic life, bringing it alive through the poetry, plays, presents and portraits of the time.

We will get to know the key figures who made up the court of Elizabeth I, their idea of fashion, what they did for entertainment and how they wished to be remembered.

Shakespeare, Robert Dudley and the Queen herself are just some of the people we will meet in this colourful and memorable exploration of life five hundred years ago.

Dr Alison Barker taught History and Art History at further and higher education for 18 years before her current role as a Frontline Support Assistant at the University of Essex, Albert Sloman Library.

She speaks widely to diverse groups on many historical and art historical topics, and has led guided tours at the British Museum and the National Gallery.

Alison wrote her PhD thesis on the depiction of Saint George in art and has published work on his image in both England and Italy. cHer forthcoming book, The Dissemination of Saint George in Early Modern Art will be published by Routledge in 2025.



The Arts Society Blackwater is to stage another of its Open Art Competition later this year.

Members are invited to submit their works of art on 7 November – in any form they wish – for judging by visiting lecturer Gail Turner, who will be giving a talk on the diversity of Spanish culture. 

Members are asked to bring their submissions to Wickham Bishops Village Hall from 9:30 am on the day so they can be put on display.  The creator of the winning work will be announced at the end of the lecture.  

Lecturer Gail Turner who will judge the Open Art competition on 7 November

Monopoly by Roger Mendham, 4 April


Almost everyone has played Monopoly at some time in their life.  It is one of the world’s most popular and enduring board games.  But how well do you really know it?  Roger’s talk starts with the original Landlord’s Game of 1903 and its evolution into the game as we know it today. 

Based on the classic 1936 London version we then take a photographic journey around the  locations of the Monopoly board. 

Expect some surprises as we explore the relationships between the various properties, look at the ones that don’t actually exist, and uncover the story behind the game we all know so well – or do we?

Roger is a keen and accomplished photographer who has gained Distinctions from the Royal Photographic Society and is currently the President of the Surrey Photographic Association.  

His artistic taste is predominantly 20th century and he is particularly interested in the visual aspects of art. He has studied the evolution of photography from its earliest days in the early 1800s to becoming a major art form in the late 20th and now 21st centuries.  

An experienced public speaker, his talks are all richly illustrated with both his own and images from some of the leading photographers in history.

                                          Roger Mendham

The Art of Durer: a journey into the the man and his world by Shirley Smith, 1 February


Albrecht was a painter, printmaker, engraver, mathematician, and theorist, and is regarded as one of the most important figures of the Northern Renaissance.  But he was also the first artist north of the Alps to paint a signed self portrait while his watercolours are the first autonomous landscape paintings.  This lecture by Shirley Smith will study the works of this master which remain icons to this day.

Shirley Smith graduated from the University of East Anglia with a first-class honour’s degree in the History of Art, specialising in the Italian and northern renaissance.  She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and a part time lecturer for the University of East Anglia and for the department of continuing education of the University of Cambridge.  She has run study days and certificate courses as well as residential weekend courses.

Medieval Embroidery: Bayeux Tapestry to Opus Angelicum – Susan Kay-Williams, 4 January


Susan explores some truly amazing pieces of embroidery from 10th century metal thread work in St Cuthbert’s stole to the Bayeux Tapestry and on to the high point of English embroidery Opus Angilcanum, meaning English work, which was sought after by Popes and monarchs. 

Susan puts these pieces in to a wider social context while unpacking the materials and techniques and in some cases the people involved.

Dr Susan Kay-Williams