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 10 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.

Brief round-ups 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: free
Non-members: £7.50
Tea and cake or a glass of wine offered inclusively

From time to time Special Talks are being booked. The venue for these is the Memorial Hall. The first takes place on Friday 22 September 2023. Charges for these talks differ from the standard Talks charge. Keep an eye on this site for details.

Special Talks (per person):
Member: free (donation welcomed)
Non-members: £15.00

John Smith: Battle of Britain

Memorial Hall BA9 9JF Memorial Hall, Wincanton

Battle of Britain – How the West Country was defended An attentive audience was enthralled by John Smith’s presentation of the pivotal actions in the skies overhead during nearly 20 weeks in the summer of 1940. A particular frisson was added to the event by the attendance of Mark Dowding, a grandson of Air Chief [...]

Paul Hooley returns to speak on “Keep Calm and Carry On”

Memorial Hall BA9 9JF Memorial Hall, Wincanton

  A wartime legacy hardly used during WW2 A bookshop in Alnwick, a laboratory in Bedfordshire, and a slew of merchandise that has proliferated since 2000 are all connected – by what?  By the well-known war-time phrase “Keep Calm and Carry On” – except that phrase was barely used during WW2, we learnt from Paul [...]

Emily Utgren: From Sweden to Stourhead

An attentive gathering was treated to an enthusiastic tale by Emily Utgren of her journey from growing up in Sweden on the edge of the forest, to studying and working in Britain and to journeying around the world to absorb the thinking behind Japanese gardens. Historic houses in Sweden have only small, formal gardens, in [...]

Janet Few on 17th century life in this area

A wet, miserable evening was forgotten as a gathering of some 50 or so were warmed, cheered and entertained by the pictures of 17th century country life drawn in words by Mistress Agnes and Master Christopher from North Devon, dressed in costume, as ordinary folk of the day. Numerous anecdotal comments and descriptions of what [...]

Gary Hunt on The River Cale ….CATCH

Memorial Hall BA9 9JF Memorial Hall, Wincanton

Community Action for Transforming Cale Habit A gale of enthusiasm blew into the Balsam Centre on Wednesday 26 April in the form of Gary Hunt, one of the founding members of CATCH, “a community group committed to returning [the Wincanton stretch of] the River Cale to a self-sustaining ecosystem that is rich in bio-diversity and [...]

Joe Rogers: West Somerset Railway

Memorial Hall BA9 9JF Memorial Hall, Wincanton

The origins of this now heritage line lie in purely commercial intentions.  From Joe we learnt that, in the mid-1800s, coal from the vast South Wales coalfields took a hazardous sea-route around Cornwall en-route to its various destinations.  A proposed railway line from Watchet, then a prosperous and busy harbour, to Bridport/West Bay in Dorset [...]

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

TICKETS AVIALABLE FROM EVENTRBRITE Flamenco is the quintessential art form of Andalusia, unique, passionate and emblematic. It exists thanks to a blending of different cultures and artistic styles in southern Spain over many centuries, ranging from Byzantine to Gypsy, and Berber to Jewish. At its heart lies the mysterious force known as ‘duende’, an experience [...]

Ric Weeks: The Newt – The Roman Villa

Balsam Centre BA9 9HB

TICKETS AVAILABLE FROM EVENTBRITE   Doors open from 6.30pm 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; [...]

Lucy Browne: Heraldry

Balsam Centre BA9 9HB

TICKETS AVAILABLE FROM EVENTBRITE  Doors open from 6.30pm 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’ will explore heraldic imagery on public display in locations such [...]