Westbury Branch meetings
The Westbury Area Family History Group, a branch of the Wiltshire Family
History Society, meet every 4th Thursday of the month at 7.15pm in the
foyer of Westbury's Methodist Church. The branch has regular interesting
and informative talks and discussions by members and guest speakers on
all aspects of family history and general history.
On Thursday 23rd June we will be welcoming Dinah Starky who will tell us
all about Sevington School, a Victorian school, opened in 1849, built by
Joseph Neeld from Grittleton House, out the Chippenham for his estate
workers. A Miss Squire started teaching there eleven years later, aged
nineteen. She continued to teach there until 1913, a span of almost
sixty years. The school room was built to hold twenty-five pupils, but
by when it closed there were only three pupils on the roll.
When the school closed in 1913, everything was left untouched. Today you
can still see the desks and forms which were used in Miss Squire's time
along with her desk, pointer and blackboard. The reading books. Dinah
will open the world of a Victorian School to us.
On Thursday 28th July, we will be welcoming Dr Helen Frisby to deliver
her talk on 'Traditions of Death and Burial' Death has been a source of
grief and uncertainty for humanity throughout history, but it has also
been the inspiration for a plethora of fascinating traditions. The
covering of mirrors to prevent the departed spirit from seeing itself;
the passing bell rung to assist the soul to heaven; the 'sin eater' who
sat beside a coffin eating and drinking to 'absorb' the corpse's sins -
all of these were common approaches at one time or another. Yet in the
modern day, death has become more clinical than spiritual, something
kept hidden behind closed doors. Helen explores English approaches to
death and burial from the medieval era to the present day, exploring
ancient customs which have long since lapsed, those such as lighting
candles that have survived until the present day, and new approaches
such as eco-burials, which are changing how we relate to death, dying
and the dead.
Westbury Branch meetings restrictions
For our regular meetings to take place at the Methodist Church, we have to follow Their rules so please adhere to Covid restrictions in place at time of meeting
Higby to their meeting on Thursday 26th May.
Matthew is the director of Matthew Higby & Company Ltd a Somerset firm,
whose work is primarily based around the conservation, restoration or
replacement of church bells. Matthew and his team have developed the
business into one of the largest and most versatile bell hanging
companies in the world. Some of the local churches whose bells they have
worked on are St Denys’ in Warminster, Edington Priory and Corsley
Church and they have worked on bells that started their lives in the
1600 that have fascinating histories. Matthew will introduce us to this
world of bells.
photographer talked to us about 'Searching Wiltshire’s Hidden
History'. He explained how he set out to research areas and the
options he had to do this. He told us about what he finds, the
people he meets and finally how he communicates his findings to a wider
On Thursday 24th June at 7:30 Helen Bagott, a freelance editor and writer shared her love of social history. Using genealogy resources she has researched hundreds of postcards sent during the early years of the 20th century. She has published her first collection of some of the true stories in "Posted in the Past". Drawing on the research from her collection of more than 300 postcards, she shared some of the stories in an illustrated talk.
On Thursday 27th May at 7:30, Mr David R Cuffley, from Kent talked about "Brickmaking". The talk was originally presented to try to give family historians an idea of the work their brickmaker ancestors were doing and their working conditions. It’s has been extended to give local historians an idea of the work on the brick-field with some sources for further information. It covered the period from 1700s to WW1 with an emphasis on the 19th century, and how the workforce acts as teams, their wages and social conditions.
Meetings: Methodist Church, Station Road, Westbury BA13 3HA, (Click for map) fourth Thursday each month 7.15pm