Branch and Local News


Chairman             (Richard Slessor)                         01242 604482 

Secretary             (Robert Sutton)           01242 574889

Publicity Officer    (Andrea Robertson)     01242 575049


The terms of office of Mrs Tweedy, Mr Watkis, Mr Greet, Dr Robertson and Mrs Robertson as ordinary committee members come to an end at the 2017 AGM. Mrs Tweedy does not wish to seek re-election and we extend our thanks for her service to the branch over many years, including as Branch Chairman in the 1980s and 1990s. The other members of the committee whose terms are due to end have indicated that they are willing to stand for re-election for a further three-year term. Mrs Miers has resigned from the committee and we record our thanks for her work as a committee member, including making the arrangements for the summer outing.

As noted last year, we recognise the need for succession planning, particularly since the branch officers will not be able or willing to remain in office indefinitely. We would be delighted to hear from any member who is interested in serving on the committee; please contact the Chairman or Secretary. This does not have to be before an AGM; we can coopt you initially at any point in the year.


Resolutions were passed at the 2015 AGM to change the official name of the branch to the 'Historical Association Gloucestershire Branch’ and to authorise the Treasurer to consolidate the two existing branch accounts into one new account. The saga surrounding the proposed banking change seems finally to be about to come to an end (though that might be tempting fate!) We are now proposing to switch to another bank which seems to be less bureaucratic. It is hoped that full details will be available for approval by the forthcoming AGM.

We sincerely hope that the changes really will be finalised very soon now, but until we confirm they have been formally completed, please continue to make all cheques for Associate Membership subscriptions and any other payments payable to 'Cheltenham and Gloucester Branch of the Historical Association’.


School and university students are always welcome at all our meetings, without any entry fee.

Meetings normally begin at 7.30 p.m., but please note the special arrangements for the AGM evening and the second October meeting.

As usual, we have aimed to devise a programme of talks covering a wide range of interesting topics, both geographically and chronologically. Details are on this website at

One highlight will be the talk by Peter Hennessy (Lord Hennessy of Nympsfield), about whom the
Guardian has said, ‘in his hands the constitution becomes a breathing, dynamic entity with the power to change history’. He will be talking about ‘Writing the history of our own times’ - an interesting topic at any time, but doubly so given the current UK political situation!

Again this year we will have two presentations to mark Black History Month. Dr Lydia Plath of Warwick University will talk in Cheltenham on nineteenth century American race and racism in the South; and in Gloucester Peaches Golding will discuss Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman elected to the United States Congress, who in 1972 became the first black candidate to run for a major party's nomination for President of the United States, and the first woman to run for the Democratic Party's nomination. (Please note that this second October meeting will be on Thursday October 26 - not Monday.) Mrs Golding has a special interest in Shirley Chisholm, and has recently talked about her on Matthew Paris’s BBC programme Great Lives

Mrs Golding is an interesting person in her own right. Born in South Carolina (her father was an educator who won a settlement of $2000 from the Atlantic Greyhound Bus Company in 1947 after his arrest for refusing to move to the back of a bus, eight years before the Rosa Parks case), she
taught after graduation at the University of Ibadan in Nigeria, and has since lived and worked in Bristol for 35 years. She has been very much involved with community projects, and in April this year she became Britain’s first black woman to be appointed as a Lord Lieutenant (of Bristol,
in fact).

You may also be interested in a Black History Month talk in Cheltenham by David Olusoga (author of Black and British: A Forgotten History) on October 25, organised by the University of Gloucestershire. Details from


Again this year we are dividing our meetings between Cheltenham and Gloucester. The venue for Cheltenham meetings will continue to be the Teaching Block, University of Gloucestershire, Park Campus, Cheltenham, (GPS: enter The Park, Cheltenham). Gloucester meetings will be at the Oxstalls Campus of the University of Gloucestershire.

Both venues are easily accessible by car (with plenty of parking), and also by bus 94U from both Cheltenham and Gloucester. Full details of how to get to the venues are on this website at

Just a reminder that if you find it physically difficult to walk to our Cheltenham meeting venue (3-4 minutes) from the main car park at the Park campus, please let either the chairman or the secretary know. Although we are unable to guarantee it, it is often possible to make use of a small car park closer to the building in which the meetings are held.


Although only a small number of members came to our branch Christmas lunch at the Star Bistro
last year, it was a very pleasant occasion enjoyed by those who were able to attend. This year is the fiftieth anniversary of the foundation of the National Star Centre which runs the Star Bistro, and it would be good to support this well-respected organisation. The bistro enables young people with disabilities to work, train and learn alongside professional hospitality and catering teams. We can confirm that both service and food are excellent.

We have provisionally booked the Star Bistro for lunch on Saturday 2 December 2017. Please keep this date in your diary; further details and a booking form will be circulated soon.


The subscription rates remain unchanged at £15 (£12.50 concessions). Current associate members should have received a copy of the membership form for 2017-18 with the summer newsletter.  Please complete the form and return it as soon as possible to the Secretary, Mr R Sutton, 9 Tom Price Close, Cheltenham, Glos GL52 2LE. Cheques should continue
to be made payable to 'Cheltenham and Gloucester Branch of the Historical Association'


On 1 July, 18 members and guests enjoyed a guided tour of Chavenage, near Tetbury. An English Augustinian community was established at Horsley in the late eleventh century, coming under the control of Bruton Abbey in Somerset. The administrative headquarters of the estate was presumably in Horsley, where the abbey had a small dependent monastery, but despite this, monastic buildings of some sort had been erected at Chavenage by the late fourteenth century. Parts of the present-day house are thought to date from this period. Around that time a fine medieval Cotswold barn, still surviving, was built on the adjoining farm.

After the dissolution of the monasteries, Chavenage was granted to Thomas Seymour (Lord Seymour of Sudeley, husband of Katherine Parr), but reverted to the Crown after Seymour’s execution for treason in 1549. In 1564 Edward Stephens became owner of the Chavenage estate; he gutted the medieval building he found, and added the two wings and the porch to create a manor house of the classic Elizabethan style. His grandson Nathaniel was a colonel in the Parliamentary army during the Civil War, and was reluctantly persuaded to support the execution of James I. The story goes that his daughter Abigail was so horrified by this that she laid a curse on her father for bringing the name Stephens into disrepute; the colonel was soon taken terminally ill and never rose from his bed again!

A highlight of the tour was the room in which Cromwell is said to have slept, which has magnificent wall tapestries.

We regret to report the death of Dr Evelyn Christmas, a long standing member of the branch and committee member for many years, who served at various times between the 1960 and 1990s as Branch Secretary and Chairman and who had attended meetings regularly until ill-health and a subsequent move away from Gloucester to be near her family in Leeds. She was awarded the Fellowship of the Historical Association in 2009 in recognition of her service to history over many years, not only with the HA, bu t also as a teacher and lecturer on the staff of the institution that is now the University of Gloucestershire. Dr Christmas was also an officer of the Bristol and Gloucester Archaeological Society.

We are also sad to have received news of the death of another stalwart of the branch, Mary Bowen. Mrs Bowen had moved to Aberdeen some years ago for family reasons, but long-standing members will remember her as committee member and Branch chairman in the 1970s when she led the branch through very successful times in terms of membership and attendance.


Andrea Robertson continues to do great work on developing new publicity approaches for the branch, including focusing on specific groups of people who might enjoy attending particular meetings.

Ideas for publicity from members are always welcome; please contact Andrea at


Many of our members are now receiving branch news by e-mail, which keeps our costs down, though we recognise that not all members have computer access. If any member's situation has changed, and they can now accepy material by e-mail, the secretary ( would be pleased to hear from them.


Ideas for content, improvement or format of this website are always very welcome; please contact Richard Slessor.


The Association's next Local History Day will be held at Churchdown Community Centre, Parton Road, Churchdown, Gloucester on Saturday, 28 April 2018. The theme will be aspects of life in Gloucestershire between the two World Wars.

Further details will be available at in due course. Some idea of the format of the Local History Days may be seen from the programme for the 2017 Local History Day, on the Assiciation's website.This will be held at St Mary's Church, Deerhurst on Saturday 16 September 2017 at 7.30 p.m. Dr Graham Jones of the University of Oxford will speak on ‘The Deer of Deerhurst: Landscape, Lordship, Custom and Ritual’.

Admission is from 7 pm. Tickets (£5, students £3) can be purchased on the door. The meeting will be preceded by the AGM of the Friends of Deerhurst Church at 6.15 pm. For directions and further details please visit