Taunton Deane Branch Programme

Taunton Deane Branch Programme 2019-20



Talks are free for HA national and local members. £2.00, payable on the door, for visitors. Tea, coffee, and biscuits are available free of charge.

There is no need to book, unless stated otherwise, though a school party or a large group might alert the organiser that they intend to come along.

Contact: Geoffrey Bisson at gb@queenscollege.org.uk or 01823 353749


Wednesday 18 September 2019, 12.30pm
This is the Annual General Meeting Lunch. Following the meal, the agenda for the meeting will be discussed after which the guest speaker will talk for about 15 to 20 minutes. Places must be reserved, price is approximately £10.00.

'The Role of the High Sheriff: Historical and Contemporary'
Speaker: Johnnie Halliday
Venue: The White Horse, Bradford-on-Tone

The present incumbent will outline, briefly, the history of the county sheriff but his emphasis will be on the responsibilities and duties of the office-holder in modern times. He will also explain his initiative, Unlocking Young Potential in Somerset, which aims to promote apprenticeship programmes.


Wednesday 9 October 2019, 7.30pm
'Re-writing the Conquest of Mexico'
Speaker: Dr Amy Fuller (Nottingham Trent University)
Venue: Queen's College, Taunton

400 years ago, Hernando Cortes led an expedition which defeated the Aztecs. Believing the conversion of the native people was imperative, conquistadors and Catholic missionaries undertook the task with uncompromising zeal. The conquest of the indigenous Mexicans was brutal and bloody but, ultimately, as far as the Spanish claimed, for their own good.


Wednesday 6 November 2019, 7.30pm
'There's a Carp in My Bathtub! Life in Communist Europe or a Story of a Provincial Modernisation'
Speaker: Dr Janek Gryta (University of Bristol)
Venue: Queen's College, Taunton

This talk will outline the peculiarities of life behind the Iron Curtain: constant invigilation of the population, institutional ‘social’ queues, new architecture and cities. It will retell the history of Eastern European Communism as a story of provincial, delayed and never quite full modernisation.


Wednesday 4 December 2019, 7.30pm
'Peterloo: The English Uprising'
Speaker: Professor Robert Poole (University of Central Lancashire)
Venue: Queen's College, Taunton

The lecturer will provide an analysis of the events of 16 August 1819, when a huge rally of reformers was dispersed by armed forces who, in doing so, perpetrated the ‘Peterloo Massacre’. The speaker will explain why this happened. The background to the event will be considered and the reasons for the reaction of the authorities will be assessed.

Mince pies and a glass of wine will be provided, free of charge


Wednesday 8 January 2020, 7.30pm
'The US and China: Has Trump Made Any Difference?'
Speaker: Professor Kathleen Burk (University College London)
Venue: Queen's College, Taunton

The talk will focus on relations between the two countries from the 1840s to the present. It will chart the rise of both the US and China, which, by the 1970s were the only, truly, imperial states in existence. Now, the author will argue, there is only one. The final part of the talk will assess the impact of the Trump presidency on the status of the US in relation to China.


Wednesday 5 February 2020, 7.30pm
'The Second World War in Russian Memory from 1945 to the Present'
Speaker: Dr Claire McCallum (University of Exeter)
Venue: Queen's College, Taunton

This talk will consider the impact of the Second World War on Russian attitudes and outlook and links will be made with recent developments under Putin. Known as ‘The Great Patriotic War' by Russians, its scale, by most means of measurement, was gigantic and, unsurprisingly, its effect on the national psyche has been massive. This talk was postponed last February.


Wednesday 4 March 2020, 7.30pm
'Ihe Sultan Trembles, the Janissary Frowns: Power Players in the Rulership of the Ottoman Sultanate'
SpeakerGemma Masson (University of Birmingham)
Venue: Queen's College, Taunton

Acquiring and keeping the throne in the Ottoman Empire was no easy task. Most sultans took the view that the best method of securing power was to kill all other claimants. Judicial royal fratricide became an accepted method of securing the Ottoman throne until the practice was abolished in the 17th century. This talk will delve into the details of this devilish device.