Winchelsea Second Wednesday Society
invite a very wide range of speakers to share their knowledge, passion and experience with us, followed by a lively question and answer session and a fabulous homemade afternoon tea. We meet at 2.30pm in the New Hall, Rectory Lane.

Next meeting…

9th February 2022
A Man and a Brother: the Transatlantic Slave Trade
Bill Doherty

Small Screens and Magnificent Miniatures

Society Chair, Natasha Robinson writes:   And so we’re into February, which for me, always feels like the real start of the year.  January is the strange limbo between two different years. The first few days are still a bit Christmassy, until Twelfth Night. We eat mince pies and Christmas cake or drink Port that was bought for the holiday season and never finished before the turn of the year. In the Russian Orthodox Church, Christmas is yet to be celebrated as they still follow the Julian Calendar and look forward to 7th January.

For a few weeks we straddle the past and the future uncomfortably, filled with hopes and resolutions that haven’t yet imbedded themselves into our routine. We have to retrain ourselves to write 22 everywhere instead of 21. Even the weather hasn’t decided what to do; should it be unseasonably warm or endlessly wet; sappingly dull or crisp and sunny.

For Second Wednesday Society, January brought us Dr Gillian White. Miniatures, from the Latin, ‘miniare’, to illuminate a manuscript, not from ‘minutus’, meaning small. So the fact that we were back on our own small screens was entirely due to caution and not a means to better understand the intimacy of the art.

On a sparkling day, she shared the extraordinary beauty and history of these unique jewels with us. Nicholas Hilliard, a goldsmith initially, created these intricate, exquisite and personal works of art, during the reign of Elizabeth l, who commissioned and wore them herself. Astonishingly, the largest follow the dimensions of a playing card and many are the same size as an Instagram post, often serving a similar purpose, making the Monarch, in this and so many other fashions, the influencer of her day.

The third Monday in January, the 17th this year, was Martin Luther King Day. It’s a Federal Holiday in the United States and was marked here, by the band of the Grenadier Guards playing Happy Birthday by Stevie Wonder, outside Buckingham Palace. “Life’s piano can only produce melodies of brotherhood when it is recognised that the black keys are as basic, necessary and beautiful as the white keys” said Dr King.

Over five decades later, the power and truth of his work, means that we all understand that the quotation has nothing to do with Peter Willson’s December talk and everything to do with what Bill Doherty, our February speaker, will explain to us this month. And that in itself, has to be slow but sure progress.

‘A Man and a Brother’, part of the slogan used by the Abolitionists, was popularised when Josiah Wedgwood created a cameo depicting their emblem of the supplicant slave, with its heart-breaking question.

He gave these medallions away free to promote the cause, even sending some to Benjamin Franklin for distribution in Pennsylvania, the first of the colonies to pass an abolition law. Pennsylvania, named of course after William Penn, whose family owned Wickham Manor, Winchelsea.

Bill will talk to us about the economic and political factors that created the transatlantic  slave trade and examine the balance of forces in the struggle for abolition.  We will be back in the New Hall for Bill’s talk.

2022 Programme

This is the Second Wednesday programme through to the autumn.

9th  February
“A Man and a Brother: the transatlantic slave trade”  Bill Doherty

9th March
“A Schoolgirl’s War: the paintings of Helen Keen” Mary Smith

13th April
“Statues”  Andrew Ashton

11th May
“Strictly Scottish Country Dancing” Maddy Coelho and Paul Youlten

8th June
“Sussex Literary Landscapes”  Geoffrey Mead

13th July
“Crossing the Great Divide: 10 days with the wildlife of Costa Rica”  Michael Howard

14th September
“Careering through the Diplomatic Service”  Richard Thomas

12th October
“Camping De-Lux: Billy Butlin’s holiday villages by the sea”  Dr Kathryn Ferry