Our popular WHS Talks are held at the Balsam Centre, Balsam Park BA9 9HB (accessed from Memorial Hall Car Park), usually on the last Wednesday evening of the month.
Doors open 6.30pm with the talk starting at 7pm. Our 9 talks throughout the year range widely, covering local and national topics such as the Roman Villa at the Newt, life of a local vet in 20th century, restoration of Earl of Shaftesbury’s house, the Nuremburg Trials.
A brief round-up of previous talks are available if you click the “Previous Talks” button further down this page.
The programme is being constantly developed so do revisit this site, check out our Instagram or Facebook and look out for our eye-catching posters in various locations around the town advising forthcoming subjects.
Entry Charges (per person):
Members and under 18s: free
From time to time Special Talks are being booked. The venue for these is the Memorial Hall. Last year we heard from John Blashford-Snell, and enjoyed a live performance of Flamenco dancing. Charges for these talks differ from the standard Talks charge. Keep an eye on this site for details.
Special Talks (per person):
Members: free (donation welcomed)
Non-members: See listing for prices
Joe Rogers on Tithe Barns in Somerset and Dorset
28 September 2022 @ 19:00 - 21:00
Reconvening after the summer break, a goodly turnout of members old and new were treated to an engaging insight into the origins and uses ancient and modern of the wonderful old medieval buildings known as tithe barns, of which we are lucky to have a plethora in our part of the country.
Joe Rogers’ interest in the subject was piqued by the uses of these old structures in today’s world, many becoming activity venues for local communities, function areas for businesses, exhibition spaces and housing. Some, sadly, have been demolished, generally during the earlier part of the 20th century.
His interest led him to travel this country round and round gathering information and photographs on these generally large structures most often connected to religious houses, not that all their barns were tithe barns. Some, though of similar design, were used solely to store an abbey’s own produce, not the tithe (or tax in kind) paid by their tenants. The map Joe built up during his research showed just how many there were stretching from Cornwall to Cumbria to Kent. It was noted there are few outside England.
As so often, it’s the small facts that build the picture. The height of the entrances used to accommodate loaded carts was greater than the exit used by empty carts. The slots left when medieval scaffolding was dismantled doubled as ventilation points. Barn orientation made use of the prevailing direction of wind, again for ventilation of the crops stored. And, sometimes, a high aperture to allow owls access to predate the vermin always attracted by the hard-won harvest.
Questions that followed Joe’s talk indicated he had caught the audience’s attention for this interesting subject: appreciation was suitably expressed.