Event Details

From October 2018 meetings will usually take place in Lecture Theatre 3 in the Woodland Road complex. Please enter via 21 Woodland Road and follow the signs.

Date, Speaker and Event
Wednesday 17th October 2018

Dave Martin

Cast Bronze Reputations in Bristol and Should Colston Fall?   

                                                                                                                               Edward-Colston-statue Dave Martin

Dave Martin is a history adviser and author based in the West Country. He is currently researching a book on historical statues. Dave has lectured on this topic at the HA National Conference in 2018 and written an article for The Historian in 2017 on the controversy around the statues of Cecil Rhodes and General Gordon entitled  Rhodes Must Fall yet Gordon is repaired?. The lecture will consider statues of historical figures that can be found in public places in Bristol and nearby towns all set within a national context. In questioning those statues – who funded them, how are they depicted, where are they sited – the lecture will try to answer the central questions, ‘Who do we choose to commemorate with statues in our streets and what do our choices say about us and our changing view of history.’  Given the recent controversy around Colton’s statue here in Bristol this promises to be a thought provoking lecture followed by a lively question and answer session.

Saturday 27th October 2019

Rob Pritchard

blitzrob p

The Bristol Blitz talk & walk


(Repeat) due to waiting list and its success in May 2018  we are repeating this event  – contact Robpritchard1957@gmail.com if you would like to be on the list. There will be a £2 charge for printing costs.

Rob Pritchard taught history in four comprehensive schools for 37 years. As an undergraduate at the University of Bristol in 1978 he completed a dissertation on the Bristol Blitz. In 2018 he re-researched his dissertation using something that was unavailable forty years ago….the internet.

We will start with a talk in Lecture Room 8 behind 21 Woodland Road. The walk (3-5 pm) will take us along Park Row, down Christmas Steps and around the old city of Bristol. We will finish by Temple Church in Victoria Street and will adjourn to the King’s Head.


Saturday 10th November 2018

Associate Professor Madge Dresser

Bristol Slave Trade walk (we are afraid that this walk is now full)


Meet outside the Wills Building at 11 am. The walk will last two hours.

Madge Dresser

Professor Madge Dresser, F.R.H.S., R.S.A., is a Senior Research Fellow at the University of the West of England and Honorary Professor in Historical Studies at the University of Bristol. A graduate of UCLA, LSE and the University of Bristol, she has published and broadcast widely on the themes of slavery and its legacy in Britain. Much of her work uses Bristol as a base from which to explore the global themes of race, ethnicity and gender.

Born in Los Angeles but living in Britain since 1970, she has taught and researched about slavery at Virginia Commonwealth University and Colonial Williamsburg.   As a public historian she has participated in national and local debates and broadcasts on the memorialisation of slavery, including Rhodes Must Fall and the Edward Colston Memorial in Bristol.

Professor Dresser has written several books connected with Bristol including Women and the City Bristol 1373-2000 (2016)  (Editor: Madge Dresser), Slavery Obscured the Social History of the Slave Trade in Bristol (2007), and with Peter Fleming Bristol: Ethnic Minorities and the City 1000-2001 (2008).  In 2017 Professor Dresser made major contributions to the Black History Month events at the M-shed.

Wednesday 14th November 2018

Priory Rd Complex

Dr Tracy Borman Joint Chief Curator of Historic Royal Palaces

Henry VIII and the men who made him 

Tracy BormanPriory Road Social Sciences Complex  Henry VIII

Tracy Borman studied and taught history at the University of Hull and was awarded a PHD in 1997. She went on to a successful career in heritage and worked for a range of historic properties and national heritage organisations, including the Heritage Lottery Fund, The National Archives and English Heritage.  She is now Chief Executive of the Heritage Education Trust which encourages children to visit and learn from historic properties. She is also joint Chief Curator for Historic Royal Palaces the charity that manages Hampton Court Palace, the Tower of London, Kensington Palace, Kew Palace, the Banqueting House, Whitehall and Hillsborough Castle. Tracy has also appeared on television and radio, and regularly contributes to history magazines, including BBC History. She has frequently given talks for the Historical Association including being one of their key speakers at the 2018 Conference.  In addition to all this Tracy has written a number of highly acclaimed books including:

  • Thomas Cromwell: The Untold Story of Henry VIII’s Most Faithful Servant
  • Matilda: Wife of the Conqueror, First Queen of England
  • Elizabeth’s Women: The Hidden Story of the Virgin Queen
  • Witches: A Tale of Sorcery, Scandal and Seduction.
  • Henry VIII and men who made him.
Wednesday 28th November 2018

Bristol Heat of Great Debate What was the greatest failure of the Age of Revolutions?

Public speaking competition for history students in the South West 

Lecture Room 8  21 Woodland Road

This autumn the Historical Association will again be running heats for the Great Debate 2019.  Bristol successfully hosted one in 2018 with ten entrants one of whom went on to the final at the Palace of Westminster.

This year the Great Debate is supported by Waterloo 200 and the question is:

What was the greatest failure of the Age of Revolutions?


Adam Vaitilingam QC, Dr Amy Edwards & Dr Erica Hannah

The final will be held at Windsor Castle in March 2019 with presentations in the Waterloo Room.

Since we are holding the Bristol heat at the end of November we need schools and colleges interested to contact us and the Historical Association in London as soon as possible to register their interest.  Normally there will be one place per school and two schools from last year have already been in touch to register their interest so do get in touch as soon as you can in September to register your interest.  Katie Logan is the member of the HA team in London who is coordinating the event Katie.Logan@history.org.uk

Further guidance for students and teachers is available at these links




Wednesday 12th December 2018

Dr Nicola Grove Nicola Grove

The Adventures and Misadventures of Fanny Fust: capacity in an heiress with learning disabilities –  Talk & Film Performance/Oral History

Lecture Theatre 3 Woodland Road

Dr Nicola Grove works as a storyteller, trainer and researcher in disability education, health and social care and the arts, specializing in narrative and story, communication, oracy in the curriculum and disability issues.  She is an honorary Senior Lecturer at the Tizard Centre, University of Kent. She believes passionately in the value of the lives of all individuals, linked to each other through our shared stories. She says her main teachers have been the people she has met who are labelled as different because of their apparent disabilities.

Fanny Fust was a young learning disabled woman who was kidnapped and forced to marry a man who was after her fortune in eighteenth century Bristol. In a joint project with the University of Bristol, Fust’s tale was rewritten by Openstorytellers, an organisation that supports people with learning disabilities by using current and historical true stories. In this talk Nicola will introduce the Openstorytellers and their research and with performers involve the audience in the story of Fanny Fust.  This event will raise issues about History’s links to oral tradition, an interesting local history story and show how History is moving beyond the book and the lecture hall.


Wednesday 16th January 2019

Dr James FreemanBritain in the 1970s Lecture Theatre 3 Woodland Road  James Freeman
Dr James Freeman is historian of contemporary British politics, economics and society, with particular research interests in the histories of rhetoric, political concepts, neoliberalism, Thatcherism, and digital humanities methodologies.  He currently teaches an undergraduate course on the 1970’s called Decade of Discord.Long portrayed as the “terrible seventies in which the post-war consensus broke down”, “the decade that taste forgot” , the decade of the three day week and the winter of discontent, the 1970’s has become a decade of serious academic study and an exam topic.  Dr Freeman will focus about how the 1970s are a decade that still shapes our political landscape more profoundly than any other. 

1970s blackout 1970s Punk1970s Mrs T  1970s oil crisis 1970s picket


Tuesday 29th January 2019

Bristol Historical AssociationHistorical Pub Quiz
The Golden Guinea BS1 6SXha pub


Wednesday 20th February 2019

priory rd complex  Versailles

Professor David Stevenson LSE

‘A Carthaginian Peace? Revisiting the Treaty of Versailles’  David Stevenson

Priory Road Social Sciences Complex

Professor Stevenson’s main fields of interests lie in international relations in Europe during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and the origins, course and impact of the First World War.

His publications include:

  • With Our Backs to the Wall: Victory and Defeat in 1918,
  • 1914-1918: the History of the First World War (2004)
  • Armaments and the Coming of War: Europe, 1904-1914 (1996)
  • The First World War and International Politics (1988).
  • 1917: War, Peace, and Revolution.

Professor Stevenson was a Member of the academic advisory committee for the Imperial War Museum’s new First World War Galleries, which opened on 19 July 2014. He has been a consultant for the BBC Documentary series Railways of the Great War, a series of five programmes produced by Boundless Productions and presented by Michael Portillo.

At the London School of Economics Professor Stevenson teaches on undergraduate courses on International History and the First World War. He has lectured at Sandhurst and amongst his many other commitments he was one of the judges in the Historical Association’s Great Debate Final in 2017.

This lecture on ‘A Carthaginian Peace? Revisiting the Treaty of Versailles’ will look afresh at this most controversial of all peace treaties.


Wednesday 20th March 2019

Dr Jessica Moody University of Bristol   Dr Jessica Moody Dr Jessica Moody 2

Remembering Slavery in the ‘Slaving Capital of the World’ : Liverpool and the Legacy of the Past

Lecture Room 8  21 Woodland Road

Dr Jessica Moody  FHEA (HEA), PhD (York), MA (York) Lecturer in Public History at Bristol University Her research concerns how people engage with the past through collective memory, public history and heritage. She is also currently writing up research on First World War exhibitions York, Scarborough and Portsmouth in 2014 and 2016. She joined the University of Bristol in September 2017.

Her lecture is on “Remembering Slavery in the “Slaving capital of the World”: Liverpool and the Legacy of the Past”. She will focus on Liverpool’s public memory of transatlantic slavery that is how the city of Liverpool has publicly remembered – over time –  its own extensive role in the transatlantic slave trade and enslavement of African people This will act as a useful comparison with our events on Bristol’s role,  both Dave Martin’s lively lecture on Cast Bronze Reputations which discussed the reputation of Colston in October 2018  and Dr Madge Dresser’s very popular Bristol Slave Trade Walk in November 2018. Dr Moody forthcoming book is called Remembering Slavery in the ‘Slaving Capital of the World’: Liverpool and the Legacy of the Past is due out later this year.  She is also currently writing up research conducted with Dr Geoff Cubitt at First World War exhibitions in York, Scarborough and Portsmouth in 2014 and 2016 and has worked with a number of national museums.


Wednesday 24th April 2019

Dr Toby Green King’s College London   Toby Green Benin bronze Toby Green book

A Fistful of Shells: New Perspectives on West Africa in the era of the Slave Trade.

Lecture Theatre 3 Woodland Road

This event replaces the previously advertised lecture by Professor Miri Rubin 

In 1897, in what is now southern Nigeria, a British military force sacked the ancient capital of the kingdom of Benin. In the rubble, the expedition leaders found a cache of intricate brass, ceramic and wood artworks that seemed too beautiful and subtle to have been produced by a culture that the British regarded as “uncivilised”. The officers helped themselves. Many of the works are now in the British Museum; others were auctioned off for cash. The men who looted them believed they had a right to “rescue” the artworks for posterity (and profit). From their perspective, the stark economic inequality that characterised the relationship between European and West African states was natural and timeless.

In A Fistful of Shells, the historian Toby Green dismantles the racist myth of West African “backwardness”. He shows that the inequalities that made the European “scramble for Africa” possible grew out of a catastrophe, the path to which began in the 15th century.

Sunday 19th May 2019

Rob Bell Archaeologist  Henry VIII  Acton Court Anne Boleyn

Tour of Acton Court The tour is now fully booked

Acton Court House. There are only 25 places. Please contact Rob Pritchard

In 1535, one of England’s most colourful kings, Henry VIII, came to stay at Acton Court with his second wife, Anne Boleyn, while on his summer Progress around the West Country. The owner of Acton Court, Nicholas Poyntz, wanted to impress his sovereign, so for Henry’s pleasure, he built a magnificent new East Wing on to the existing moated manor house. The new wing was a splendid testament to Nicholas Poyntz’s loyalty to his King. He went to immense trouble and expense to impress Henry, decorating the state apartments lavishly and fashionably. He was well rewarded as it is thought he was knighted during the royal visit.

Today, the East Wing which was built in just nine months comprises most of what remains at Acton Court. It offers a rare example of 16th century royal state apartments and some decorations which are said to be the finest of their kind in England.

Also surviving, hidden in the masonry until it was discovered during conservation work is the King’s “en suite” garderobe, or privy.

Sir Nicholas went on building at Acton Court until his death in 1556. The surviving Eastern half of his long gallery can still be admired. It was a daring construction with large windows and a painted frieze of biblical text and moralising verses in Latin.

During archaeological excavations at Acton Court, there were many exciting finds, thought to be associated with King Henry’s visit. These included examples of the finest Venetian glass of its time, Spanish ceramics, and some of the earliest clay tobacco pipes yet discovered. Dating from the late 16th century, these support the view that Sir Walter Raleigh gave one of the first demonstrations in England of the technique of smoking during a visit to Acton Court.

One item of particular importance was found by chance in a nettle patch next to the building. It is a Cotswold limestone sundial designed by the royal horologist, Nicholas Kratzer, dated 1520.

The Poyntz family owned Acton Court from 1364 until 1680 when the direct line of succession ended and the house was sold. It was subsequently reduced in size and converted for use as a tenant farmhouse. The building’s fortunes declined to the point of dilapidation in the 20th century. It is due in part to this neglect that Acton Court was left largely untouched and as a result a unique Tudor building has been preserved virtually intact.

Wednesday 22nd May 2019

Professor Kate Dossett University of LeedsKate Dossett

Today’s Young Feminists Know Better Than That”: Archives, Activism and the Making of Women’s History. Women as history makers and historical actors

Lecture Room 8  21 Woodland Road

Kate Dossett joined the University of Leeds in 2003. Her research and teaching focuses on race and gender in the United States in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Her two main areas of interest are women’s and gender history, in particular the construction of feminist knowledge through Feminist Archives and Women’s Libraries and histories of the African Diaspora including black nationalism, the international black left, the Harlem Renaissance and black feminism.  She is currently working on two projects: a history of radical black theatre in the United States and the making of feminist history and archives in Britain and the United States. She has worked with the National Theatre to develop an adult learning programme on African American Theatre in the 20th Century and delivered public lectures at the National Maritime Museum and the Leeds City Museum.  Her work on the history of women’s libraries and feminist archives includes working with Feminist Archive North and Glasgow Women’s Library.  She has been a guest expert on Radio 4’s Great Lives series and a contributor to Woman’s Hour.  She has recently written a book on Radical Black Theatre in the New Deal. Her book Bridging Race Divides: Black Nationalism, Feminism and Integration 1896-1935 (2008) was winner of the Julia Cherry Spruill Prize for the best book in southern women’s history.

Tuesday 25th June 2019

7.30 pm Bristol Historical Association

Historical Pub Quiz

The Golden Guinea Pub BS1 6SX

Pub Quiz Bristol HA 25th June 2019