Westbury Branch meetings 

The Westbury Area Branch meet every 4th Thursday of the month at 7.15pm in the
foyer of Westbury's Methodist Church [November - February meeting are held on Zoom] See below for details of topics future and past. Everyone is welcome and there is no charge. Tea/coffee available before the meeting, with time to chat before and after the talk

Please scroll down for contact details
Future Meetings

23 May  ‘Having a Robinson Crusoe in the Family’ – Graham Warmington  What happened to John Warmington when his ship was wrecked off South Africa in 1782

27 June  ‘Westbury Shops’ – Liz Argent    The  main focus is the late 1950s to the early 1970s with additions looking forward and backwards.  Can you recall when Westbury streets were lined with shops, when you could buy a suit and hat in Maristow Street, antiques in the Market Place, a newspaper at W H Smith on the Warminster Road or a quarter of your favourite sweets from glass jars at the local sweetshop?  Liz Argent will be taking us back in time to recall when our town had a wide variety of shops and a busy centre.

Future speakers  to be confirmed 

Past meetings
25 April   AGM plus Show and Tell
1 March    Last Orders! A History of Westbury’s Hostelries. - Sally Hendry
Please note the change of Thursday to accomodate Easter. We will also be meeting in person in our usual venue -  in the foyer of the Westbury Methodist Church 
Sally Hendry, is taking us on a virtual pub crawl through the history of the pubs and inns of Westbury,
Thursday 22nd February 2024 - Simon Fowler - 'Researching Brewer and Publican Ancestors'.
NB This meeting is on  zoom.  Many of our ancestors ran a pub or worked in a brewery. The talk will tell the story of pubs and breweries. Many of us have ancestors who worked somewhere in this industry. The talk will help to discover the various avenues of research available. Simon is one of Britain’s most experienced family history teachers, writers and researchers. He worked for The National Archives on and off for over thirty years. He also edited Family History Monthly and Ancestors magazines. He has also written for Family Tree Magazine and Who Do You Think You Are magazine and has authored well over a dozen books mainly genealogical help guides.
The meeting starts at 7.15pm and the talk will commence at 7.30pm. All welcome, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for joining details.
Thursday 25th January 2024 - Helen Frisby - Traditions of Death and Burial.
Our next meeting will be on zoom, so you can join us from the warmth of your own home. I am delighted to say that on Thursday 25th January we will welcome Dr Helen Frisby, who will give a talk in the Traditions of Death and Burial. [Unfortunately this talk had to be postponed last year]
Death has been a source of grief and uncertainty for humanity throughout history, but it has been the inspiration for a plethora of fascinating customs and much human creativity. This talk by Dr Helen Frisby, the internationally recognised expert on the history and folklore of death, dying and funerals. and author of the Shire book 'Traditions of Death and Burial,' explores English death and burial customs from the Norman Conquest right through to the present day. From winding sheets to funeral bells and angels, together we'll discover how ritual continues helping us to relate to the dead, in ways which are at once innovative and longstanding.
Helen is secretary of the Association for the Study of Death and Society, and a Council Member and Trustee of the Folklore Society. and has appeared on BBC Radio and The History Channel.
The meeting starts at 7.15pm and the talk will commence at 7.30pm. All welcome, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for joining details.
December 2023 - Christmas Meal we swapped our evening talk for a lunchtime of chat and a Christmas Meal.

Thursday 26th November - James Archard - Wiltshire’s Little Known Wonders?
We return to zoom for our meetings this month and  we are delighted that our local Westbury Area historian and videographer, James Archard, will be talking to us about Wiltshire’s Little Known Wonders?
He will be covering the not so well known history, in areas of Wiltshire that are well known. A captivating and enlightening talk covering some true historical Wiltshire wonders you may never of known about?
Thursday 26th October -   Steve Hobbs - ‘Researching Your Westbury House'
Sadly our planned speaker, Dr Helen Frisby, who was going to talk to us on the ‘Traditions of Death and Burial’ had to cancel at very short notice due to ill health. The evening was saved by Steve Hobbs who very gallantly jumped into the breach and gave us a very interesting talk on, ‘Researching Your Westbury House’. He was able to pinpoint properties around the town of Westbury and explain how with the use of old local maps, census records, newspapers etc. you could piece together the life of a property.
One of our members was so inspired by Steve’s talk that he decided to do a little more research into the history of the Westbury Baptist Chapel. As a result, he managed to connect one of the former Deacons with a specific property mentioned in Steve’s talk. I believe both parties were very pleased with the outcome.
Thursday 28th September - Research Evening
Thursday 24th August- Sally Hendy -  Westbury’s Quaker Graveyard  in the grounds of Pinnegar & Finch, solicitors in Church Street was probably first used in 1720 and was then in existence for almost a century, with the last recorded burial in 1814. Sally told us what has been learnt about the Matravers family members who were buried there and the rise and fall of Quakers in our community. 
Thursday 27th July - Visit to the Wiltshire FHS Resource Centre, Devizes
Thursday 22nd June - Steve Hobbs - Reading 16th and 17th century handwriting
Thursday 25th May - AGM and Show and Tell evening. 'Correspondence from the past'
Thursday 27th April - David Birks - Origins, development and redevelopment of Trowbridge  Museum. David Birks is the Museum's Learning and Outreach Officer responsible for formal and informal learning within the museum, which encompasses school workshops, holiday crafts for families, reminiscence work in care and residential home and what is termed Lifelong Learning, which covers walks, talks and crafts for adults. David's background is in fine art, and although still practising as a printmaker at home, he is more likely to be found dressed as a Victorian gentleman or a Saxon peasant nowadays. David's talk traces the museum's beginnings with the Garlick Bequest, how the collections grew through various gifts, before finding a permanent home in Salter's Mill. The story will be brought bang up-to-date with the latest redevelopment and reopening in 2021. There will be slides illustrating the talk and David will attempt to answers any questions afterwards.
Thursday 23rd March - Meeting in person at the Methodist Church Foyer - Speaker Graham Warmington. - History of Bratton Baptist Church.  Graham Warmington will be looking at the history of Bratton Baptist Chapel, His story will begin with a love story between a member of the Reeves family in the village and the pastor of the Baptist Church in Westbury. The history of the chapel stretches from the time of persecution when the local worshippers had to meet in secrecy in Earlstoke Woods, to the time when they were able to build their own chapel which has evolved as their place of worship ever since. The story includes the involvement of the Reeves and Whitakker families (featured in the book "Sheep Bell and Ploughshare"), plus its relationships with the other churches in the area right up to today.
Thursday 23rd February  - On Zoom - John Hanson -'The 1939 Register explained.' The key to getting the best from anything is understanding it and the process involved in the first place. Something like the 1939 Register is no different so the lecture will look at the history behind the 1939, its release, and the problems that exist because of its difference anything else. It will also try to show how to get the best from it and find those elusive people.
Thursday January 26th 2023 
We were very pleased to welcome Jackie Depelle to our zoom meeting who helped us with our series of talks on the 20th century census' with the talk 'Bridging the Gap : tracing forwards from 1911' She explained the basic research strategy for building a family tree is to work from the Known to the Unknown however it can be difficult to make connections back to census records. Now the 1921 census is available that can be worked in conjunction with other documents which can be used to provide details of our ancestors' lives across this potential awkward time period.  The talk reviewed several identifying chronological timelines which can help keep our research focussed.  Many are obvious, some perhaps unexpected as a sample case study reveals picking up from First World War Internment.



 Meetings: Methodist Church, Station Road, Westbury BA13 3HA, (Click for map) fourth Thursday each month 7.15pm

Contact - Mrs Lynne Vercoe   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 


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