May: BERNARD & VANESSA LEWIS ‘IN CONVERSATION’ with Catherine Blyth - Author of ‘A Family Business: The Story of River Island, Chelsea Girl, Bernard Lewis OBE and his brothers.’ One of the first winners of Drapers Lifetime Achievement Award – as Drapers put it, “A conversation with Bernard Lewis is an oral history lesson on the development of the fashion retailing sector in the UK.” It was our pleasure to offer you an extraordinary insight into this privately-owned family business that was founded in the 1940s by Bernard which our Chairman Lorraine was privileged to have been part of, working closely with Bernard and Vanessa. This was only the 3RD maybe the 4th interview that Bernard has ever done in 7 decades of his retailing life. The Book is now published available on Amazon hard back, kindle and audible.

October: Dr DAVID BELLINGHAM. ‘NERO, ROME & THE GOLDEN PALACE’ ‘IN PERSON’ Back by popular demand we were delighted to welcome Dr David Bellingham, Art Historian, Author & Programme Director for the master’s degree in Art Business at Sotheby’s Institute of Art, London. David’s lecture about the current exhibition on that time at the British Museum reminded us of what a wonderful period the first century CE was for the arts and architecture. David is an excellent speaker bringing his subject so alive and many of our audience re-visited the exhibition following David’s inspiring lecture not having enjoyed it as much on their initial visit prior to his lecture.

November: KATE TELTSCHER ‘THE GLORY OF THE GARDENS THE PALM HOUSE AND VICTORIAN KEW.’ Kate Teltscher is the author of the critically acclaimed book Palace of Palms: Tropical Dreams and the Making of Kew (Picador, 2020), recently out in paperback. She is Honorary Research Associate at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and Emeritus Fellow of the University of Roehampton. Kate told us the story of the creation of the Palm House – the engineering masterpiece & emblem of Kew Gardens & the Victorian obsession with the palms that filled it. We heard an account of breath-taking ambition, of scientific discovery & crucially, of the remarkable men whose vision it was. Three of the main figures in her book were the Gardens’ first two directors and curator who are buried in the churchyard of St Anne’s.

December: PROFESSOR ROBIN SIMON FSA ‘ZOFFANY (1733 – 1810) IN AND OUT OF FAVOUR - It was a pleasure welcoming Professor Robin Simon FSA, Editor of The British Art Journal, who examined the humorous character of Johan Zoffany’s paintings. German-speaker, Zoffany lost royal patronage through including unsuitable jokes in a painting delivered to the Queen in 1779. By the 1790s, Zoffany was back in favour, when he would ride in the King’s carriage around Kew ‘to entertain him, and to tell him about all the paintings he was then carrying out’. Professor Simon delivered a very inspiring lecture pointing out many intricate and surprising details in paintings we would never have picked upon! (We need to point out a misleading statement in our promotional flyer about this event which indicated that The Friends had restored Zoffany’s tomb in 2008. In fact, the restoration was paid for by private donation (The Garrick Club} and also relied on many other donations from neighbours on Kew Green.)

January: GEORGE GOODWIN MA FRHistS FRSA. ‘HENRY V1, THE LOSS OF FRANCE AND THE FIRST WAR OF THE ROSES’. We were delighted to welcome George back. He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and the Royal Society of Arts; George is an Eccles Centre Makin Fellow at the British Library. His highly-illustrated talk marked the 600th anniversary of the birth of Henry VI – the founder of Eton and King’s College, Cambridge – and England’s most tragic monarch. Henry’s reign saw the chaos in the King’s own mind spreading to his Kingdom, leading to the loss of England’s vast territories in France and to civil war at home. It effectively ended in 1461, with the Armageddon of Towton – the bloodiest battle on English soil. Something to get the blood stirring last January – though George lightened the mood as is his manner with his ready wit and entertaining presentation.

February: GEOFFREY MUNN OBE, MN, ‘FABERGÉ AT THE COURT OF EDWARD VII’ . We were delighted to welcome Geoffrey Munn best known as one of the ex¬perts on the BBC Antiques Road Show as the Jewellery specialist, and a tele¬vi¬sion pre¬sen¬ter and writer. Geoffrey is an expert on Fabergé saying he has probably seen more Fabergé than anyone else! Carl Fabergé was the maker of the famous Easter Eggs for the Russian Imperial Court, but the range of his work is very much wider & includes jewelled flower studies and charming animal carvings made from a variety of semi-precious stones. It was these that captivated King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra, and as a result the Royal Collection has an unrivalled collection of both. Geoffrey’s lecture was very timely as it made an ideal introduction to those planning to visit ‘Fabergé in London: Romance to Revolution’ Exhibition at the V&A still currently showing. It was not surprising that as soon as our live tickets went on sale it created a rush and we had to create a waiting list. Geoffrey is as charming as we see him on the TV, and our audience were not disappointed.

March: TONY KIRKHAM MBE, VMH ‘REMARKABLE TREES FROM AROUND THE WORLD’ Former Head of the Arboretum, Gardens and Horticultural Services, RBG Kew, who retired in July 2021 after over 40 years’ devoted service to the management of its trees. It was our pleasure to welcome Tony, who with our audience eagerly anticipating his lecture to learn more, took us on the incredible journey around the world ‘to meet his special friends’ and they were not disappointed! His enthusiasm and charisma for these trees is clearly evident and we could sense he had so much more he could have shared with his amazing passion for his life’s work on trees. In addition to his MBE awarded in 2021, in 2009 Tony was awarded the Associate of Honour by the RHS for his services to horticulture. Only 100 people hold this award in the British Isles. Our live tickets sold out only one week after going on sale and again we created a waiting list.

April: SUSAN BAILES, BA, MA, PGCE ‘THE GOLDEN AGE OF CHILDREN’S BOOK ILLUSTRATION IN EDWARDIAN ENGLAND’. We were delighted to welcome Susan back by popular demand for her illustrated talk (Susan did a similar talk for us on Children’s Book Illustration in Victorian England around three years ago). Susan, a retired Head Teacher with an MA in children’s literature, is Chair of the Children’s Books History Society and editor of its journal. She is also a committee member of IBBY (International Board on Books for Young People) and of IBIS (Imaginative Book Illustration Society). As Susan pointed out, Edwardian England was a fascinating period of developments in colour printing leading to high quality illustrated children’s books. Susan took us on a journey about the part three very different artists played with their expertise and talents: Arthur Rackham, Edmund Dulac & Beatrix Potter (the subject of the current V&A exhibition ‘BEATRIX POTTER: DRAWN TO NATURE’) which I know encouraged many to visit after hearing Susan’s most interesting, entertaining and informative talk.

May: Postponed event - ‘AN AFTERNOON CHARITY BRIDGE DRIVE & SUPPER’ with TINA RUYGROK & ARNOLD TUNBRIDGE. This will be rescheduled for either Autumn 2022 or Spring 2023.

See our website later in the Summer for news on our next fundraising events in Autumn 2022 & Spring 2023

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