At the Nursteed Centre, Devizes


Please note: the Society's Resource Centre (ie for its office, libary, research etc) is on the Bath Road, at the other side of Devizes from the Nursteed Centre.

The Devizes Branch regular meetings are on the third Tuesday of each month (except December) at 7.30pm.  Some meetings may be on Zoom.   See below for contact details, details of topics, venues and any changes.  Everyone is welcome, and there is no charge.  Tea/coffee available and time to chat or ask questions.  Please keep an eye on this page for any changes.  

Tuesday 16 July - "West Country Myths and Legends" - Tony Painter will present a collection of odd stories, mysterious happenings, dastardly deeds and historic legends culled from his researches into West Country history for the Alan Godfrey series of old Ordnance Survey maps.

Tuesday 20 August - "Discover the exciting story of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers!" Our summer annual out-visit - a guided tour of the REME Museum, Calne Road, Lyneham SN15 4XX at 2pm. There is plenty of parking, and the tour may take up to 2 hours.  The on-site Crowns Cafe is open from 10 until 4.  Something to interest everyone.  [Share transport or need a lift?  Call 01380 723830.]

Tuesday 17 September - ""Reading old handwriting" with Jenny Pope.  As coordinator of WFHS's team transcribing old documents in the County Archives, Jenny is very well-placed to explain the the wide range of old writing that family historians may encounter.

Tuesday 15 October - "Extraordinary Wiltshire Women"  - Ruth Butler.  Discover the stories of Wiltshire women who shaped the nation's history - from medieval heiress Ela of Salisbury to a 20th century queen of speed The Hon Mary Bruce.  

Tuesday 19 November - "Shipwrecks and Survivors" - Graham Warmington.  In 1782 John Warmington was shipwrecked off S Africa and was one of 18 who survived a trek across tremendously difficult terrain, and was one of only four who returned to England.

Tuesday 10 December - Christmas Party (note - on the second Tuesday)


Recent meeting - June - "I Give and Bequeath" by long-time member Julia Hunt.  Many of Julia's ancestors lived in Aldbourne, and she has transcribed almost all the wills left by villagers.    Julia set the scene by explaining how and when wills were written, and which authorities held or now hold them.  We then heard many examples of information that can be gleaned from wills and from the documents sometimes kept  with them in the archives.  We heard of loving spouses and parents, of a father despairing about his son's behaviour, of generous bequests, of careful division between family members that revealed favour or disfavour, and so on.  It was a remarkable picture of life in the village, the name of which we learned is pronounced more as "Awbun" than "Ald-bourne".

Recent meeting - May - "Searching for Surnames:  challenges, pitfalls and the downright ridiculous " - Kirsty Gray.  Kirsty reminded us that there can appear to be many variations of the same family surname. She showed examples when there were up to ten variations of the same surname between parish registers and various censuses due to a variety of factors. The working man may have been illiterate and not able to spell, or read, his surname. The transcribing of poor handwriting was another possible area where errors happened. All these problems meant that the family historian had to be inventive in order to follow the family line.

Recent meeting - April - "Writing Your Family History" - Jackie Depelle.  This was another successful hybrid meeting, with us in our usual meeting place and Jackie on-screen leading us through a wide range of options for creating enjoyable and understandable records for family and friends to enjoy. She gave us many useful clues for our improving our own record keeping and adding historical context from diverse places – never forgetting to record the original source and not just a web site.

Recent meeting - March -Members’ Evening.  Two members entertained and taught us some olden days geography as well.  One had inherited many cards, photos and stamps.  They revealed relatives’ travels through Europe to live in the Far East, while a ship’s passenger list revealed - possibly romantically – how and where ancestors first met.  Our next speaker's ancestor led an exotic life, playing key roles at a remarkably young age with the Royal Niger Company, liaising between West Africa and officialdom back in London.  Sadly he died at sea.  Another ancestor left a mysterious set of clues, with conflicting personal details before marrying, having a child and then simply disappearing (from our eyes, at least).   

Recent meeting - February  -  "The Mourning Brooch" - author Jean Renwick revealed the research behind two novels inspired by an inherited mourning brooch. Her talk was full of information and inspiration for family historians, revealing productive sources of all sorts and telling fascinating stories of  real and fictional characters and events in Yorkshire, the USA and Europe.  This was our first use of Zoom to bring our speaker into an otherwise normal meeting: with Jean's engaging style, it worked really well.

Recent meeting - January  -  "The First Christmas Presents" - Andrew Campbell.  This was a historical, not religious, exploration of the gold, frankincense and myrrh brought as gifts by the Magi at the birth of Christ.  With great knowledge, excellent images, and plenty of humour, Andrew took us on a tour exploring where the gifts came from in the ancient Middle East, who might have brought them, why they were valuable and what they were used for.

The Nursteed Centre - our usual meeting place for the Devizes Branch of WFHS


Meetings: Nursteed Centre, Nursteed Road, Devizes SN10 3AH, (Click for map)  third Tuesday of each month, 7.30pm

Access: 800 yards along A342 towards Andover: signed on the right by the pedestrian crossing.
Contact: Branch Chairman David Weaver on 01380 723191 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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