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"We wish to thank you

for providing a highly researched and excellently delivered talk."

The Friends of the Yeatman
Hospital, Sherborne

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Talks and Lectures

Luke speaks regularly to societies and groups on topics of local, social and family history. To book a talk or ask about other topics, please enquire here.

On the Parish: Life in the Victorian Workhouse

"Kill me sooner than take me there," implores Betty Higden in Dickens' novel, Our Mutual Friend (1865); even today, the Victorian workhouse still inspires powerful images of fear and hardship in the contemporary consciousness. But what evidence do we have that conditions in "the Union" were really so dire? This talk draws on stories from a number of Dorset's workhouses to explore the theme and takes a look at some of the records available to help you research your own pauper ancestors.

"Passion and Genius": The Forgotten Life of Canon C. H. Mayo

Charles Herbert Mayo (1845-1929) was born at Salisbury but spent all his clerical life in Dorset. When not tending to his congregations, he spent much of his time researching the county's rich history, which he published in numerous works. Indeed, at the time, he was one of the West Country's most eminent authors, folklorists and genealogists. With the aid of his correspondence and private research papers, this talk will examine the extent of Canon Mayo's contribution to Dorset's written heritage.

"Hospital Blues": Nursing in Dorset during the First World War

During the First World War, an estimated 60,000 volunteers served with the British Red Cross Society in auxiliary hospitals across the United Kingdom, providing much-needed support in caring for sick and wounded servicemen returning from the Front. Using the market town of Sherborne as a case study, this talk explores the pivotal role played by the VADs during the war and highlights how this remarkable contribution was largely sustained through the efforts of female voluntary labour.

A Guide to Growing your Family Tree

Family history has become an increasingly popular hobby over the last decade; yet, whilst the television programmes can make it look straightforward, it's sometimes difficult to know where to begin. This talk offers some practical advice to help you get started with your research and flags up some of the pitfalls you might be faced with along the way. Despite what you might think, it’s not just about building a ‘tree’ full of names and dates. It’s really about uncovering the stories of real people. 

J. S. W. Sawbridge Erle-Drax: Villain or Victim?

Erle-Drax (1800-1887) served as MP for Wareham three times between 1840 and 1880 and held several high offices in Dorset but he is now largely remembered for his notoriously eccentric habits. Of them all, he is perhaps best known for erecting an elaborate mock-Byzantine mausoleum "of marvellous hideousness" in a small churchyard near Sherborne and for rehearsing his funeral in "full and elaborate detail." In this talk we'll seek to strip fact from fiction to discover the man behind the legend.

Mapping out your Family History

Old maps are an invaluable source for family history research; they can help you to familiarise yourself with the area that your ancestors came from and perhaps even pinpoint where in a town or village they may have lived, worked, went to school or attended church. Using tithe and enclosure maps as good examples, this talk explains how to track down these underused records - both online and in the archives - and put them to best use in your own research.

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