Isle of Wight Branch Programme

Isle of Wight Programme 2023-24

Enquiries to Caroline Jacobs or 07988 171 708

Unless otherwise stated, meetings take place at the Riverside Centre, The Quay, Newport, IW PO30 2QR, starting at 7.30pm and finishing at approximately 9.00pm. Doors open at 7.00pm 

Meetings are free to national and local branch members, visitors £3


Wednesday, 11th October

Spies and the Cold War - did they make the world safer or more dangerous?

Professor Richard Aldrich, FRHistS Politics and International Studies, University of Warwick  

We have long understood that the Cold War was very much an espionage war - but what did the spies achieve during this period?  Did they make the international system more stable by supporting arms control and providing war warning or did they destabilise the world by producing provocations and flash points?  Were technical spies and satellites less of a problem than the 007 James Bond type Human Spies?  This talk reveals what we know now about the most dangerous moments of the long conflict between East and West and show how spies took us to the edge even in the last decade of the Cold War. 


Wednesday, 1st November

Widows of the Ice: The Women that Scott’s Antarctic Expedition Left Behind

Anne Fletcher Historian and Author

As Captain Scott lay freezing and starving to death on his return journey from the South Pole, he wrote with a stub of pencil his final words: 'For God's sake look after our people.' Uppermost in his mind were the three women who would now be widows: Kathleen, his own bohemian artist wife; Oriana, the devout wife of the expedition's chief scientist, Ted Wilson; and Lois, the Welsh working-class wife of Petty Officer Edgar Evans. When the news came that the men were dead, they became heroes, their story filling column inches in newspapers across the world. Their widows were thrust into the limelight, forced to grieve in public view, keeping a stiff upper lip while the world praised their husbands' sacrifice. These three women had little in common except that their husbands had died together, but this shared experience was to shape the rest of their lives. Each experienced their loss differently, their treatment by the press and the public influenced by their class and contemporary notions of both manliness and womanly behaviour. Each had to rebuild their life, fiercely and loyally defending their husbands' legacies and protecting their fatherless children in the face of financial hardship, public criticism and intense press scrutiny. Widows of the Ice is not the story of famous women but of forgotten wives, whose love and support helped to shape one of the most iconic moments in British history. They have drifted to the outer edges of the Antarctic narrative, and bringing them back gives a new perspective to a story we thought we already knew. It is a story of imperialistic dreams, misogyny and classism, but also of enormous courage, high ideals, duty - and, above all, love.


Wednesday, 13th December, 2.45pm

**PLEASE NOTE EARLIER START TIME and this event will take place in the Parish Room, 6 Town Lane, Newport, PO30 1JU**

English Views of Joan of Arc from the 15th to 21st Centuries

Professor Anne Curry Emeritus Professor of Medieval History, University of Southampton

Professor Anne Curry, Emeritus Professor of Medieval History at the University of Southampton, returns to the branch for the first time since 2006 when she compared Agincourt and Bosworth. On this visit she will address English views of Joan of Arc from the 15th to 21st centuries. A former President of the Historical Association (2006-09) and appointed Arundel Herald Extraordinary in 2022, Professor Curry is such an authority on Joan of Arc that she appears as a hologram at the Historial Jeanne d’Arc at Rouen!


Wednesday, 10th January BY ZOOM

Byzantium the Forgotten Empire

Professor Jonathan Harris Professor of the History of Byzantium, Royal Holloway, University of London

Even the widest-read historians are likely to have a gap in their knowledge when it comes to Byzantium, a medieval Greek-speaking, Christian empire centred on Constantinople. This lecture will provide an introduction, exploring who the Byzantines were, the defining characteristics of their society and the legacy that have they left.


Wednesday, 7th February BY ZOOM

Tudor Espionage

Professor Neil Murphy Professor of Medieval and Early Modern History, Northumbria University, Newcastle

This talk will examine Henry VIII’s hunt for Richard de la Pole, who was known as the White Rose in reference to his Yorkist claim to the English throne. Fleeing England, de la Pole spent his life surrounded by spies and assassins. The paper takes us across sixteenth century Europe, from southern England to the Hungarian court at Buda, as it tracks the actions of these spies and de la Pole’s efforts to outrun them. It examines the mass of spies and informers who infiltrated de la Pole’s household, as well as the assassination attempts on his life. This was a murky world of agents and double agents, whose alliances were uncertain and ever shifting. It will uncover a network of disgruntlement - English men and women who were disaffected with the Tudor monarchy and who actively plotted to try and overthrow Henry VIII and have de la Pole installed as king of England in his place. That these efforts ultimately failed was in a large measure due to the size and sophistication of Henry VIII’s spy ring. 


Wednesday 6th March

The Entry of Women into the Medical Profession

Dr Paul Bingham Historian and Author

2024 is the 150th Anniversary of the London School of Medicine for Women. The school was of critical importance in opening the profession of Medicine to Women, years before the Law and Church. This presentation will showcase the school building, that was originally a Georgian mansion, and also include current research on the first 100 women entered onto the UK Medical Register.


Wednesday, 10th April

Victors' Justice: The Nuremberg Trial and its Legacies

Professor Michael Biddis Emeritus Professor of History, University of Reading

In this lecture, Professor Biddiss will consider the dilemmas faced by the victors at the end of the Second World War as they sought to reach inter-Allied consensus about prosecution and punishment of the defeated Nazi leadership.  He will then discuss the proceedings eventually conducted at Nuremberg in 1945/6, described by one of the British judges as “the greatest trial in history”.  After reviewing the positive achievements of the International Military Tribunal in condemning the Nazi regime, he will highlight those weaknesses of planning and implementation that contributed to limiting the effectiveness of the longer-term aims which Nuremberg was also intended to fulfil.  The talk will conclude by emphasising the ways in which the Trial’s legacy has remained highly relevant to global concerns over war crimes and “crimes against humanity” during the decades since 1945, leading to the formation of a permanent International Criminal Court (operative since 2002) and to even more recent debates over Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.