Royston Pike Lecture Series

Now in its 44th year, the Royston Pike Lecture Series continues to attract audiences with its eclectic mix of subjects. Here is a summary of the lectures in the programme:  

Thursday 12 September 2019 - 7.30pm
To Eritrea and Ethiopia: Retracing a Victorian Expedition by John Pilkington
Elmbridge Borough Council, Civic Chamber, Esher KT10 9SD
In 1868, Queen Victoria’s government mounted an extraordinary bid to rescue a small clutch of European hostages in the Abyssinian highlands. They built a Red Sea port, then a railway across the coastal plain, and finally brought in 44 Indian elephants and took on 26,000 local people to serve the soldiers and carry their heavy guns into the heart of Africa. A hundred and fifty years later, John followed their route, partly on foot with a donkey, and compared Eritrea and Ethiopia then and now. He found today’s people spirited and energetic, living in dramatic and extremely challenging lands.
John Pilkington is an old friend of the Royston Pike Lecture Series, and this will be his 16th talk for us. He’s often called “one of Britain’s greatest tellers of travellers’ tales”. He has spoken to over 1,000 audiences in six countries, and holds the Royal Geographical Society’s much-coveted Ness Award for popularising geography. 

Monday 14 October - 7.30pm
A Nice Cup of Tea! by Russell Bowes
Cecil Hepworth Playhouse, Walton-on-Thames KT12 1AU
Much has been written about plants that changed the world - cotton, sugar, tobacco, but little about Great Britain’s “national drink” - tea. We get through nearly 35 million cups of it a day, but do you know where tea came from? Have you suffered on your knees through the Japanese tea ceremony? What was the Temperance Movement? Who invented the tea bag? And why should you never add the milk first?
Russell is a freelance garden historian and has been giving talks on the subject since 2000. He has spoken at the National Portrait Gallery, the Imperial War Museum, Chelsea Physic Garden, The Eden Project and Blenheim Palace, as well as for many National Trust Members’ associations, over 90 branches of the U3A, the WI, and hundreds of local horticultural and historical societies.

Wednesday 27 November - 7.30pm
Palestine: Beyond the Wall by Jan Parsons
Riverhouse Arts Centre, Walton-on-Thames KT12 2PF

Palestine is a land of striking contrasts, from its ancient limestone hills crowned with scattered villages and more
recently dense clusters of Israeli settlements, to the vast stretches of the Judean desert, rich in remarkable sites and
buildings. Very few tours visit places like Mar Saba, Hisham’s Palace and the palm shaded oases of this beautiful landscape.Jan Parsons travelled through Palestine in 2017 with the Palestine Exploration Fund, meeting some of the hospitable Palestinian people across the West Bank including Bedouins and the Samaritan community with their ancient customs. We will visit the holy sites in Hebron, a volatile city where tensions run high, Qumran, home to the Dead Sea Scrolls and Temple Mount in Jerusalem - a significant site to the three major world religions. Jan’s talk will also address the impact of the Separation Wall in the context of the more recent history of Palestine.
Jan Parsons was Chairman of Guildford Travel Club from 2013 – 2019. A keen photographer, her particular interest is visiting ancient and remote sites away from the tourist trail where travel, history, culture and archaeology meet. 

Wednesday 15 January 2020 - 7.30pm
Oh No It Isn’t: A History of Pantomime by Pete Allen
Cecil Hepworth Playhouse, Walton-on-Thames KT12 1AU

What is it about Pantomime that attracts thousands of people every year to this strange concoction of fairy tales, music, dance and cross-dressing? Why do normally reserved, respectable, theatregoers find themselves chomping at the bit to gleefully shout out contradictory comebacks and what is it really like to play the back end of a Pantomime Cow? All this, and the answer to whether something really is behind you, will be answered in this festive talk about what has become one of the great British seasonal traditions.
Pete Allen is the Director of The RC Sherriff Trust, a charity set up through the will of the playwright and author RC
Sherriff that supports the arts in Elmbridge. Previously, he was the Arts Development Officer for Elmbridge Borough Council, was co-founder and Artistic Director of WhirlygigArts and Storm the Stage Young People’s Theatre, was the Director of The Together in Waddon Community Project and has worked extensively as a professional theatre director.

Thursday 27 February 2020 - 7.30pm
Bowing to Tradition: Unexpected Sides to Japanese Society by Jim Holmes
Riverhouse Arts Centre, Walton-on-Thames KT12 2PF

From the country that gave us all that is high tech and automated, it comes as a surprise to find that many aspects of Japanese society defy modernity. Children’s pushchairs still made out of rattan, tiny tractors for miniscule fields and bullfighting where nothing gets hurt, there’s much more than mega cities, Buddhist temples and volcanos in Japan. Travel with Jim Holmes through the less expected sides of Japanese life and see how simple, low tech and contradictory it really can be.
Jim Holmes is a professional documentary photographer that lived and worked in Japan for many years, producing images for travel and educational books for UK readers.

Wednesday 25 March 2020 - 7.30pm
Relationships: Everyone Seems Normal, Until You Get to Know Them by Maggs Latter
Riverhouse Arts Centre, Walton-on-Thames KT12 2PF

Maggs take a humorous and quirky look at relationships. Exploring whichever we choose, whether it is human,
an inanimate object, a strange hobby or a furry friend, relationships come in all forms. Investigating in a lighthearted
way, Maggs looks at how we behave towards and feel about the connection with our relationships and how it affects us and other people.
Maggs Latter is an arts consultant and speaker who has lived locally for over 30 years. She has been a drama teacher, an advisor for Surrey County Council, a youth worker and a founding member of the Barn Theatre Club.
She is a member of the 120 singers of the Elmbridge Choir and participates in all things theatrical. A former Arts Officer for Elmbridge Borough Council and former Head of Friends of the Riverhouse Arts Centre, Maggs is now a Trustee of the R C Sherriff Trust.

Thursday 23 April 2020
Mount Everest: The Longest Climb by Dominic Faulkner
Riverhouse Arts Centre, Walton-on-Thames KT12 2PF

In 2006, Dominic Faulkner led the British Everestmax expedition - the ultimate ascent of Mount Everest in a journey that lasted six months and has never been repeated. Starting at the earth’s lowest point on the shores of the Dead Sea, the team cycled and negotiated their way through eight countries and 8000km to reach the north side of Mount Everest. The climb took place against the backdrop of one of the worst years in the mountain’s history. Dominic’s account of their journey is richly illustrated with images and video footage.
Dom Faulkner is an educator, writer and explorer. He has travelled widely and loves nothing more than riding a mountain bike or paddling a canoe into the wilderness. He is the author of the Longest Climb, short listed for the
Boardman Tasker Award for mountain literature.

Tickets are £3 per person, payable in cash and available at the door. No advance booking required.

 Download the full 2019-2020 programme.

For further details or to be included on the mailing list for current or future lecture brochures please contact arts@elmbridge.gov.uk.

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