Friends Meetings & Programme

With the restrictions imposed due to the Covid-19 pandemic now removed, the programe of regular meetings held at the Willis Museum should be reinstated starting on 16th September. The programme of future talks is being currently updated.

Under normal circumstances, the Friends hold ten meetings a year when the guest speaker normally covers a local history subject. The meetings are on the third Thursday evening of most months in the Archaeology Gallery at the Museum in Market Place, Basingstoke. The doors are opened between 7.10 and 7.30 with the meeting commencing at 7.35.

There is a short break after the talk when tea and coffee are available for a nominal amount and there is the opportunity to take part in our raffle for attractive prizes.

Nearby car parking costs £2.00 for the evening after 7pm.

Admission is FREE for Members. A limited number of Non-members are always welcome, except for the members only meeting in October, providing they have pre-booked by phoning the Museum on 01256 465902 (daytime) at least twenty four hours in advance. A small admission charge of £3.00 per person is payable at the door. This £3.00 can be used towards a full membership fee of just £12.00 for the year if you join the Friends on the night. This ensures that you will have a seat at all future meetings without the need to pre-book.

Our Next Meeting is:

Jun21 poster

FRIENDS OF THE WILLIS MUSEUM TALKS PROGRAMME 2021

January 21st - Alan Turton

Arson in His Majesty’s Dockyards – the story of ‘John the Painter'

Alan will tell the story of ‘John the Painter’. This man went under many aliases and was a renowned criminal with personal grudges, specialising in setting fire to docklands, including Portsmouth. One of the first home-grown terrorists, he ended up apprehended by the Bow Street Runners in Odiham.

February 18th - Alan Jones

Keep Your Hair On

Alan Jones will talk about the history of Wigs, extensions, beards and eye brows. Discover the secretive and lucrative international world of Hair that is straight, wavy, long, natural or dyed! Smuggling, politics, religion, and fashion collide in a billion dollar trade.

March 18th - Neil Sadler

A Policeman’s Lot can be quite an interesting one

Neil spent 30 years as a police officer. Starting “on the beat” in the exotic holiday resort of Bognor Regis in the 1970s, he retired from a post in national and international police training. You may be amazed to hear who he met on his first solo night shift at 3am. Changes in police uniform and equipment and why not to be squirted with pepper spray. Also, where not to try and escape the traffic cops in one European country and a novel use.

April 15th - Jenny Mallin

A Grandmother’s Legacy: the early days

How Benjamin Hardy in 1798, a seventh generation weaver ancestor of Jenny Mallin from Mirfield in Yorkshire, sails to Madras with his British Army unit, fights for the next 22 years in India and decides to settle his family there for the next five generations.

May 20th -  Andy Skinner

‘The Mysterious Death of William Rufus’

This talk explores a nearly-thousandyears-old mystery - the death of King William II, a stone’s throw from Southampton, in August 1100. Was it a hunting accident, as reported at the time, or something much more sinister?

Andy Skinner is a Learning & Engagement Officer for Southampton City Council Cultural Services - SeaCity Museum. Andy has a bachelor’s degree in History from the University of Southampton and a master’s degree in Museums Education from the University of Leicester. He has worked for Southampton City Council since 2012.

 June 17th – Paul Robbins

 ‘You've Never Had it so Good!’

A nostalgic look back at society, culture, news, and music from the wonderful golden decade that was the 1950’s. Do you remember white £5 notes, rationing, trams, the festival of Britain, smog, and the third man film? If so, then this is the talk to bring back so many memories! 

​Paul Robbins, an experienced presenter, historian, and author. Paul has over 40 years of experience in public speaking.

July 15th -  Dr Gale Pettifer

‘The Murder by Smugglers in Hampshire 1747’

In 1747, a notorious smuggling gang kidnapped and murdered William Galley, a Custom-House officer from Portsmouth, and Daniel Chater, a shoemaker from Fordingbridge. Smuggling was a venture perpetrated by gangs who were often considered to be folk-heroes, as avoiding custom duty was seen as a poke at the Government. However, the brutal murders of Galley and Chater sent shock waves through eighteenth century society.

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