Hampstead & North West London Branch Programme

Hampstead & North West London Branch Programme 2024-25



Meetings are held at 8pm on the third Thursday of the month September to April (excluding December) at Fellowship House, 136a Willifield Way, London NW11 6YD.

Please email to see if Zoom is available.

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

All enquiries to Mandy Caller mandycaller@gmail.com or telephone 07818 063594


Thursday 19 September 2024

Jan Smuts v Nelson Mandela: Who Was the Greater Statesman?, Dr Anne Samson

Jan Smuts and Nelson Mandela were South African born and led the country, the former twice between 1919 and 1924 and 1939 and 1948, the latter from 1994 to 1999. Both have a statue on London’s Parliament Square. This talk explores the similarities and differences between them and how they came to be remembered on London’s political square nearly 50 years apart.

South African born Dr Anne Samson is an independent historian specialising in the Great War in Africa, with a large focus on South Africa. She runs the Great War in Africa Association and a small publishing house.


Thursday 17 October 2024

Spies and British PMs, Professor Richard Aldrich

Professor Richard J Aldrich, is professor of Politics and International Studies at

University of Warwick


Thursday 21 November 2024

The Revolting French. France since 1789, Professor Pamela Pilbeam

Professor Pilbeam’s  illustrated talk, based on her new book, The Revolting French, investigates the impact of revolution on the French from the Revolution of 1789 to its centenary in 1889.

The nineteenth-century French state was threatened by an unprecedented number of revolts. What impact did the 1789 Revolution have on nineteenth-century events? Why were there so many revolutions at the time? Were there common factors? Were non-revolutionary issues as significant or more significant in provoking change? Why was it that insurrection was rarer in the second half of the century when revolutionary rhetoric was more prolific?

Professor Pilbeam is Professor Emeritus in French History at Royal Holloway College London


Thursday 16 January 2025

The Decline and Fall of Britain's Indian Empire, Dr. Sean Lang

The Victorian Raj in India cultivated its image of power and omniscience with great care: all Europeans were expected to uphold the image of innate western superiority, exhibited in western technology and British military might. Yet the reality was very different: not only was an increasingly vocal nationalist movement growing rapidly, but the very success of British rule contributed to its growing redundancy. The British were living on borrowed time – and, increasingly, they knew it.

Dr Seán Lang is a Senior Lecturer in History at Anglia Ruskin University, where he specialises in modern European history and the history of the British Empire. He has taught widely at school, sixth form and university level and is a regular broadcaster on radio and television, commenting on history, education and current affairs, especially issues relating to the British monarchy. He is a regular lecturer for the University of Cambridge International Summer Programme.


Thursday 20 February 2025

Agincourt. Myth and Reality, Professor Anne Curry

Agincourt, fought on 25 October 1415, is a truly famous battle victory for Henry V for which many contemporary sources survive.  Thanks largely to Shakespeare, it is also a battle which many have experienced and continue to experience! In 2015 HM Government contributed £1m to commemorating its 600th anniversary. What is it about Agincourt that makes it so special? 

Anne Curry is Emeritus Professor of Medieval History at the University of Southampton and is a Past President of the Historical Association. She has written many books on Agincourt and Henry V. In  2015 she was chair of the Agincourt 600 charity and heavily involved in commemorations both in the UK and France. 


Thursday 20 March 2025

The Army that Never Was. D Day and the Great Deception, Taylor Downing

The Army that Never Was: D-Day and the Great Deception will tell the remarkable story of the various Deception campaigns around the D-Day invasion eighty years ago. It is packed with the stories of larger than life individuals inventing and carrying out extraordinary ploys to fool the enemy into thinking that Normandy was just a sideshow and the real invasion was coming across the Channel at the Pas de Calais. Central to this Deception was the invention of a completely hoax army led by General Patton in Kent and East Anglia and the creation of hundreds of dummy landing craft, tanks and aircraft to convince the Germans it was real. New research reveals a hidden link with the cinema industry here. This is the almost unbelievable story of what went on behind the scenes of the dramatic D-Day landings. Sometimes fact is more extraordinary than fiction.

Taylor Downing is a historian, broadcaster and best selling author. Over many years he produced more than 300 historical documentaries for British and American television. For the last decade he has been writing popular history books including Cold War (with Sir Jeremy Isaacs), Spies in the Sky about aerial intelligence in World War Two, Breakdown about shell shock on the Somme, 1983 – The World at the Brink about a Soviet war scare that nearly prompted World War Three, and 1942 – Britain at the Brink about Churchill’s darkest hours in 1942. His latest book is The Army that Never Was about Deception and D-Day. He regularly appears on television and radio documentaries and in podcasts. He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society.


Thursday 17 April 2025

Past and Present on British Welfare State.  Professor Patricia Thane

The first measures of what later became the ‘Welfare State’ came from 1906 under a

Liberal government supported by the recently founded Labour Party. They included

the first state pensions, National Health and Unemployment Insurance. A reason for

this was the public response to surveys by Charles Booth and Seebohm Rowntree

which revealed more extensive poverty than expected, due above all to low pay and

precarious employment. Publicly funded welfare then gradually expanded, until from

1945 the Labour government implemented a more fully developed ‘Welfare State’.

Whereas in the 1900s the discovery of poverty led to the beginnings of the Welfare

State, the main cause of poverty now is the decline of the welfare state.


Her book The Rise and Fall of the British Welfare State. From Poverty in 1900 to

Poverty in 2023, will be published by Bloomsbury later in 2024.

Professor Patricia M. Thane is Visiting Professor in History at Birkbeck College, London

We look forward to welcoming you at Fellowship House