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
Non-members: £10.00

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

Philip Hughes: Lord Shaftesbury Estate, Wimborne St Giles

Memorial Hall BA9 9JF Memorial Hall, Wincanton

Breathing Life Back into St Giles House at Wimborne St Giles A good crowd came to the Balsam Centre to hear an overview, delivered by Philip Hughes, of the fortunes of Lord Shaftesbury’s house at Wimborne St Giles and its gradual repair and conservation (from 2011 to 2014). Having been in the same family for [...]

John Blashford-Snell: The Legend of Livingstone

Memorial Hall BA9 9JF Memorial Hall, Wincanton

Many or most have heard the quotation “Dr Livingstone, I presume” and, indeed, that is how John Blashford-Snell started his lecture, with a black and white film clip of the 1939 version of those events.  But how much more there is to the Livingstone story we steadily learned in the course of the detailed presentation. [...]


Marcus Giles: A Country Vet (based on Wincanton)

Balsam Centre BA9 9HB

For those whose only connection to a veterinary surgeon has been taking their pet cat/dog/rabbit/budgie for a consultation and treatment, or watching “All Creatures Great and Small”, Marcus Giles’ reflections on his life in the profession was an absorbing talk, packed with information and observations. He started by giving us background to the origins of [...]


Memorial Hall BA9 9JF Memorial Hall, Wincanton

An opportunity to better understand the unique style of performance that is Flamenco produced an evening that took us through nearly a thousand years of history, through the flow and eddy of steady migration and the centuries of cultural development that goes with such a span of time and changing dynamics of population. Centred in [...]

Ric Weeks: The Newt – The Roman Villa

Balsam Centre BA9 9HB

On the footings of a pre 5th century building, the reconstruction of a Roman villa has provided fascinating insight into many aspects of the Roman world in Britain. The concept was inspired by the discovery of ruins of a Roman-British villa that once stood on the estate; a careful excavation determined the structure dates back [...]

Lucy Browne: Heraldry

Balsam Centre BA9 9HB

A qualified genealogist Lucy Browne specialises in West Country ancestry; she researches house occupation and provides assessments for historic building surveys. Her talk, ‘How Local is your Local History? Tales of the Unexpected from Coats of Arms’ explored heraldic imagery on public display in locations such as pubs and churches and how it might not [...]

Wincanton Racecourse – Hall & Woodhouse Brewery

Balsam Centre BA9 9HB

Two strands of local history meshed in the recent talk given by Mark Woodhouse; those of the history of Hall and Woodhouse Brewery and of Wincanton Racecourse. Since 1777 the brewery started by Charles Hall has been refreshing the thirsty of this area;  it’s reach now stretches into London and to North Devon.  From Ansty [...]

Weston Zoyland airfield

Balsam Centre BA9 9HB

Mr Turner’s reservoir of photographs that accompanied his talk on the oldest airfield in our region provided a wide-ranging retrospective on the progress of flight and air warfare from the days immediately succeeding World War 1 to the conflict that was World War 2, through the 1920s, 1930s and into the 1940s. Aerial shots showed [...]

Judge Jeffries and the Monmouth Rebellion

Balsam Centre BA9 9HB

The Bloody Assizes and the most known character connected to them, Judge Jeffries, were drawn out from the broad brush-strokes that often constituted our knowledge of them from school history lessons. George Tatham gave a well-attended evening the background to the Duke of Monmouth’s rebellion which led to those Assizes.  Following the death of Charles [...]

The Witches of Selwood

Balsam Centre BA9 9HB

Some three-score people converged to learn about The Witches of Selwood from Dr Andrew Pickering. While many may be familiar with the Salem witch trials in New England and/or the Pendle witches of Lancashire, Andrew Pickering put forward a clear case for our, lesser known, local witch history being as well regarded.  It may have [...]

Development of the London Mounted Police

Balsam Centre BA9 9HB

Chris Forester will tell us the story of this noted section of our capital's service whose aim is to enforce the law, protect public order, and the public itself; a service guided by "be sober, be vigilant".