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Newsletter - May 2011


May’s lecture

Anne Sebba’s story of William Bankes started with the first scandal of his life; his fame as an explorer turned to notoriety when he was accused of indecent exposure. Fortunately for him, and owing partly to the evidence of the Duke of Wellington, a family friend, the case was dismissed. At the age of forty-eight he inherited Kingston Lacy, in what was then the wilds of Dorset; he employed Charles Barry (who rebuilt the Houses of Parliament) to turn his unassuming country house into a much grander Italian-style stately home. When another more serious sexual scandal broke, Bankes fled the country to France and then Venice. Exile gave him the occupation he might not otherwise have had; he commissioned craftsmen to produce stone- and wood-carving – often to his design – which he sent home for his brothers and sister to install in Kingston Lacy. It is intriguing to think that he may have returned once, in secret, to see this work in its place, before he died in 1855. When the house passed into the hands of the National Trust in 1981 it was, although in a poor state, the richest gift they had ever received.

Dr Lucy Worsley

Our June lecturer, Dr Lucy Worsley, has been making quite a name for herself with her presentation of If Walls Could Talk: The History of the Home on BBC Four. The programme took us through 800 years of domestic history by exploring the British home through four rooms, meeting experts and historians on the way.

There is also a tie-in book and if you have ever wondered what the answers to the questions “Why did the flushing toilet take two centuries to catch on? Why did medieval people sleep sitting up? Why did gas lighting cause Victorian ladies to faint?” – then this is the book for you.
We look forward to meeting Lucy Worsley in person on 21st June for her talk on Horses, Women and Great Country Houses, The Life and Loves of the first Duke of Newcastle.

Our website

We are constantly updating our website, and we hope you take advantage of the information on it to find out about current events and read about past visits.

To read the report on the very successful trip to Museum of London, Docklands, just go to
and our visit to the Victoria and Albert museum is also written up and this can be read on

Garden Party

Details of July’s Summer Garden Party are now posted on the website and application forms have been sent to all members. The gardens are part of The National Gardens Scheme and should be spectacular in midsummer. The front garden was designed and planted in 2000 by Chelsea winner Arne Maynard and there is also a contemporary walled kitchen garden; gardening enthusiasts are sure to want to take advantage of this private viewing, and usual delicious tea.

Layer Marney Tower

The Antiques Roadshow visited Layer Marney Tower in May and the programme recorded there will be broadcast later in the year; those who made the visit with our Society in April 2009 may like to watch out for this and refresh their memories with its interesting history and architecture.

We don’t want to lose you

Our Programme Secretary has been trying valiantly to process all the renewals and in spite of her best efforts thirty or so members have not replied to reminders. The new programme year has started! Please contact Tina Feilden on and tell her if you have not received your new programme card!

What’s on and where?

A lot of the events listed in the April newsletter are still open. A couple of new exhibitions to note:

National Portrait Gallery London
BP Portrait Award, 16 June –18 September 2011

Somerset House Courtyard
Ai Weiwei’s bronze animal heads, until 26 June

The Old Year

Just to round off we can look back on last year’s lectures. Here, compiled by your Programme Secretary, is a table of rating of our Speakers – in order of preference of those who responded to our feedback request.

Norwich DFAS Feedback Speaker Ratings 2010/2011
1. Sept 10 John Ericson The Shakers  90%}
1. Feb 2011  Dr Christopher Herbert C15 Artists of Bruges 90%}
3. May 2010 Oliver Everitt  King George III 84%
4. March 2011   Elizabeth Rumbelow  Diaghilev 81%
5. Dec 2010  Shirley Smith  Journey of the Magi  79%
6. Jan 2011  Mary Yule The Art Fund  75%
7. Oct 2010 Daniel Snowman    History of Opera 74%
8. June 2010 James Taylor Captain Cook 72%
9. April 2011 Anne Anderson Aestheticism 70%
10. Nov 2010 Jo Walton Graves .. and epitaphs 62%


Any comments or queries about the contents of this Newsletter, or suggestions for future items, please email