Programme 2019 - 2020


Evening talks  7.30-9 pm on the 2nd Wednesday of the month at The Roman Way Community Centre, 36 Roman Way, Market Harborough, LE16 7PQ (doors open 7 pm - free parking onsite).

Additionally, there is a local field trip in June and a full day local history conference at The Roman Way Community Centre on a Saturday in October. .

Download a handy tri-fold programme in pdf format here

Sep 11th


Joanne Mungovin

Joseph Merrick of Leicester, The Elephant Man
The story of Leicester-born Joseph Merrick, 1862-1890, has passed into the realm of legend. Known as the elephant man because of severe physical deformities he was displayed as a freak; in 1980 he was the subject of a film depicting cruelty and suffering at the hands of his manager until his eventual rescue by Dr Frederick Treves of the London Hospital. But the truth is quite different. Joanne’s interest in Joseph Merrick stems from her passion for and 20 years research into the history of Leicester, the home town she shares with Joseph.

October 9th

David James

Blacksmithing and Conservation today
David James is from the firm of George James and Sons, Blacksmiths; it still uses the same premises as when it was founded in 1841 as a village blacksmiths at Broughton near Kettering, but it did install a new forge in 1950. Today it specialises in conservation and creative work. The firm restored the 18thC gates to Kings Norton Church, and the gates at the entrance to the Memorial Gardens in The Square as well as gates and railings by Jean Tijou at Hampton Court Palace. Cathedrals and churches (including Great Bowden) have seen his beautiful new creative gates and railings.  David will explain the magic of working hot iron and how the repair and creative work is accomplished.

Saturday Oct 26th

History Day

Aspects of History of the Harborough District

November 13th

Steve Dimmer

Tales from the Trenches
Steve Dimmer will retell   some of the myths and legends that came out of Great War. The Angel of Mons and The Christmas Football Match are relatively well-known, but other tales such as The German Ghost Spy, The Monocled Mutineer and The Comrade in White will be less well-known.  The evening traces the story of these myths and   examines the likely explanation, shedding fascinating new light on many curious and unexplained wartime tales, such as the zeppelins, the actual assassination of Arch Duke Ferdinand,  the Kitchener poster, propaganda, the real plan behind Churchill's despatching water closets to Russia and the small personal story of one single soldier.

December 11th

Robin Jenkins

Church Monuments of Leicestershire and Rutland
The two counties have a wealth of fine funerary monuments which besides being works of art in their own right, reflect the historical attitudes of society and its leaders. There are some nationally outstanding monuments as well as many others reflecting their time in history and the aspirations, wealth and feelings of worthiness of those they commemorate.  They can be   found in churches, both small and those wrought as extensions to the importance of the ruling class. From Sleeping mediaeval knights and their wives, small children to those killed in distant colonial wars the churches of the two counties display them. Robin Jenkins, senior archivist at the Leicestershire Record Office, will help us explore this wealth of art and social history.


January 8th

Nat Alcock

Cruck Building in Midland England
Crucks are the pairs of curved timbers used in the construction of both stone and timber-framed buildings in parts of England. They are found in humble cottages as well as, in modified form, in the halls of the great (as at Nevill Holt). Dr Nat Alcock is an expert on vernacular architecture and has made extensive studies of cruck construction. An acute observer and recorder of vernacular architecture he will give us an account of cruck buildings in the midlands, in its wider context.

February 12th

Alan Langley

The Harborough Workhouse, who were the inmates?
Parishes had long had workhouses for the homeless and poor but after the Poor Law Act of 1836 these were consolidated into large unions. The new Market Harborough work house at 33 Leicester Road (now St Luke’s hospital) served the town and 42 surrounding parishes.  But who used them?  Why were they admitted? How long did they stay? Alan Langley has been studying the Market Harborough workhouse records to find out more about the unfortunate people who stayed there.

March 11th

Sarah Wilson

Flag Fen
Flag Fen, on the outskirts of Peterborough is at the junction of the land with the low lying Fens. Here in the early 1980s was discovered a bronze age causeway, since subject to much archaeological study and re-construction.  It shares the same prehistoric landscape with the recent discoveries of the platform settlement at Must Farm near Whittlesey.  Sarah Wilson is the archaeologist at Flag Fen and can tell us about the discoveries, their significance and conservation and   careful   reconstruction of the Bronze Age landscape. Flag Fen has enabled an understanding and appreciation of the life in the Bronze Age.

April 8th




Len Holden

AGM followed by:
Len Holden:  Paddy Logan and his suffragette daughters
John (Paddy) Logan (1845-1925) was a radical and outspoken entrepreneur, engineering contractor and property dealer. He made a fortune building railways and docks. He built himself a large country house at East Langton and in 1891 became MP for Market Harborough. He gifted the town the play area and housing development around Logan Street as well as paying half the costs of the Harborough swimming pool. Less well known is that he had two daughters who became suffragettes and played a significant role in promoting women’s rights and suffrage in Leicestershire. Len Holden will tell their story.

May 13th



Mike Stroud

William Knibb of Kettering
William Knibb 1803 - 1845 was a Baptist minister from Kettering who took up the cause of fighting slavery in the West Indies.  To him the whole concept of slavery was totally abhorrent, and he determined to do all within his power to "slay the monster" that was slavery. He followed the Kettering Baptist Minister Andrew Fuller 1754 - 1815   who in 1792 co-founded the Baptist Missionary Society. Indeed leaving school aged 12 he worked as an apprentice printer to Fuller’s son.   William Knibb became a missionary to Jamaica, much influenced life there where he died aged 42.  Mike Stroud will recount the life and work of this great man.

June 10th



Local field trip - tbd

July 15th


To be reviewed

Mathew Morris

Castles of Leicestershire and Rutland
(An extra talk - part of the July Leicestershire & Rutland 
Festival of Archaeology. Free admission to Society members)