Hampstead & North West London Branch Programme

Hampstead & North West London Branch Programme 2023-24



We normally meet at 8pm on the third Thursday of the month October to April (excluding December) at Fellowship House, 136a Willifield Way, London NS11 6YD.

The cost of Membership is £15 (£10 if joining after Christmas), and the visitor fee (live or on Zoom) will be £5 per session.

All enquiries to Dr Dudley Miles, email dudleyramiles@googlemail.com or telephone 07469 754075


Thursday 19 October 2023

The Mayans and Aztecs

Ian Mursell, founder of Mexiclore


Thursday 16 November 2023

1942 Britain at The Brink

Taylor Downing, historian, author and broadcaster

Most people think that Britain’s worst moment in the war was 1940 with the fall of France, the Battle of Britain and the Blitz. But in 1942 - Britain at the Brink, Taylor argues that Britain’s darkest hour was actually in 1942 when the British people faced the prospect of defeat when a string of military disasters engulfed Britain in rapid succession. The collapse in Malaya, the biggest surrender in British history at Singapore, the passing of three large German warships through the Straits of Dover in broad daylight, the longest ever retreat through Burma to the gates of India, failures and defeat of the Eighth Army to Rommel’s forces in North Africa, the siege of Malta and the surrender at Tobruk. All of this occurred against the backdrop of catastrophic shipping losses in the Atlantic. The run of military failures created a political crisis for Winston Churchill and his government. People began to claim that Churchill was not up to the job and his leadership was failing badly. Public morale collapsed. 1942 Britain At the Brink explores the story of frustration and despair in that year. Using remarkable new material from the Mass Observation Archive, historian Taylor Downing shows just how unpopular Churchill became in 1942 with two votes attacking his leadership in the Commons and the emergence of a serious political rival. After El Alamein and Stalingrad the war took a favourable turn for the Allies: but this pivotal year is described in nail-biting detail, bringing a fresh eye on the events of eighty years ago.


Thursday 18 January 2024


John Levy


Thursday 15 February 2024

The Norman Conquest of England – A Revolution in Warfare?

Emeritus Professor John Gillingham, Em. Prof. of Medieval History, LSE

Em Prof John Gillingham: I think of this talk on the Norman Conquest of England as a commentary on two passages from works of fiction. One is Sherlock Holmes’ reference to ‘the curious incident of the dog in the night-time.’ The other comes from the ending of Pat Barker’s recent novel, The Silence of the Girls, a re-imagining of the Iliad from the point of view of Briseis, one of the captured slave girls. It ends with Briseis wondering, ‘What will they make of us, the people of those unimaginably distant times? One thing I do know: they won’t’ want the brutal reality of conquest and slavery. They won’t want to be told about the massacres of men and boys, the enslavement of women and girls.’

It is not that the Conquest led to the enslavement of the defeated English people – though among the many myths surrounding it – the myth of the Norman Yoke meant that it was long imagined that it had done.

It is rather that the wars of the Conquest, for all their undeniable brutality – above all their two most celebrated and notorious events, the Battle of Hastings in 1066 and the Harrying of the North in 1070, also saw the introduction of a new and significantly more humane kind of warfare: warfare which did not involve soldiers capturing and enslaving non-combatants, above all women and children.

In this talk I shall address three questions: 1. How novel was non-slaving warfare? 2. Why did it emerge in Britain after 1066: 3. How did so major a development come to be forgotten?


Thurs 21 March 2024

The Historical Arthur

Dr Andrew Breeze, University of Navarre, Spain

Andrew Breeze is a linguist based in Spain where – since 1987 – he has been Professor of Linguistics at the University of Navarre. He was educated at both Oxford and Cambridge and worked at the school of Celtic Studies in Dublin. He is an expert in Celtic languages and, besides numerous papers on the philology of these languages, he is the author of ‘Medieval Welsh Literature (1997). No stranger to controversy, in 2015 he published ‘The Historical Arthur and Sixth-Century Scotland’, which argues that Arthur was a historical figure who fought other Celts in battles in Scotland and Northern England. He bases his argument on linguistic evidence whereas the consensus among most historians of early medieval Britain is that Arthur was a legendary figure associated with Southwest England. His latest book is 'British Battles 493-937: Mount Badon to Brunanburh' (Anthem Press, 2020) and his 'The Historical Arthur and the "Gawain" Poet' is due from Lexington Press in 2023. We can expect a lively evening as he seeks to persuade us of his views.


Thursday 18 April 2024


Dr Eric Boston, FHA. History educator.