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Talks

Reweirding London: Authors on the Secret City

Mudlarking, Criminal Queens and the deep City. Join us for an evening of short films and talks where we reweird London.

24 March 2022 7pm – 10 pm
The Amersham Arms, 388 New Cross Road, London SE14 6TY
£7 / £5 concessions (Advance tickets advised)

Caitlin Davies – Queens of the Underworld: A Journey into the Lives of Female Crooks
Lara Maiklem – Mudlarking: Lost and Found on the River Thames
Tom Chivers – London Clay: Journeys in the Deep City
Short films on London from Video Strolls.

Lara Maiklem – Mudlarking: Lost and Found on the River Thames
Mudlark (/’mAdla;k/) noun A person who scavenges for usable debris in the mud of a river or harbour

Lara Maiklem has scoured the banks of the Thames for over fifteen years, in pursuit of the objects that the river unearths: from Neolithic flints to Roman hair pins, medieval buckles to Tudor buttons, Georgian clay pipes to Victorian toys. These objects tell her about London and its lost ways of life.

Moving from the river’s tidal origins in the west of the city to the point where it meets the sea in the east, Mudlarking is a search for urban solitude and history on the River Thames, what Lara calls ‘the longest archaeological site in the world’.

Review – Mudlarking: lost and found on the River Thames - Current  Archaeology

Lara Maiklem moved from her family’s farm to London in the 1990s and has been mudlarking along the River Thames for over fifteen years. Known as the ‘London Mudlark’, she has a combined social media audience of over 83,000 followers and has been featured in the Guardian and on BBC News, BBC World Service and BBC Radio 3. She now lives with her family on the Kent coast within easy reach of the river, which she visits as regularly as the tides permit. She is the author of Mudlarking: Lost and Found on the River Thames and A Field Guide to Larking. Both will be available on the night from The Word bookshop.

Tom Chivers – London Clay: Journeys in the Deep City
A beguiling mix of history, geology, folklore and memoir that captivated me from the first page.

Lara Maiklem, author of Mudlarking

Tom Chivers follows hidden pathways, explores lost islands and uncovers the geological

London Clay: River Lea Walking Tour with Tom Chivers and Siddhartha Bose -  Pages of Hackney

mysteries that burst up through the pavement and bubble to the surface of our streets. From Roman ruins to a submerged playhouse, from an abandoned Tube station to underground rivers, Chivers leads us on a journey into the depths of the city he loves.
A lyrical interrogation of a capital city, a landscape and our connection to place, London Clay celebrates urban edgelands: in-between spaces where the natural world and the metropolis collide. Through a combination of historical research, vivid reportage and personal memoir, it will transform how you see London, and cities everywhere.

Tom Chivers is a writer, publisher and arts producer. He was born in 1983 in south London. He has released two pamphlets of poetry, The Terrors (Nine Arches Press, 2009; shortlisted for the Michael Marks Award) and Flood Drain (Annexe Press, 2012), and two full collections, How To Build A City (Salt Publishing, 2009) and Dark Islands (Test Centre, 2015). His poems have been anthologised in Dear World & Everything In It (Bloodaxe Books, 2013) and London: A History in Verse (Harvard University Press, 2012). His non-fiction debut London Clay: Journeys in the Deep City will be published is Transworld/Doubleday and will be available on the night.

Caitlin Davies – Queens of the Underworld: A Journey into the Lives of Female Crooks
This book is an extremely important part of women’s social history. Read it! – Maxine Peake

Queens of the Underworld: A Journey into the Lives of Female Crooks:  Amazon.co.uk: Caitlin Davies: 9780750993173: Books

Robin Hood, Dick Turpin, Ronnie Biggs, the Krays … All have become folk heroes, glamorised and romanticised, even when they killed. But where are their female equivalents? Where are the street robbers, gang leaders, diamond thieves, gold smugglers and bank robbers?
Queens of the Underworld reveals the incredible story of female crooks from the seventeenth century to the present. From Moll Cutpurse to the Black Boy Alley Ladies, from jewel thief Emily Lawrence to bandit leader Elsie Carey and burglar Zoe Progl, these were charismatic women at the top of their game. But female criminals have long been dismissed as either not ‘real women’ or not ‘real criminals’, and in the process their stories have been lost.
Caitlin Davies unravels the myths, confronts the lies and tracks down modern-day

Queens of the Underworld: A Journey into the Lives of Female Crooks:  Amazon.co.uk: Caitlin Davies: 9780750993173: Books

descendants in order to tell the truth about their lives for the first time. Caitlin Davies was born in London in 1964. Her non-fiction books include Taking the Waters: A Swim Around Hampstead Heath, Downstream: a history and celebration of swimming the River Thames, and Bad Girls: The Rebels and Renegades of Holloway Prison, which was longlisted for the 2019 Orwell Prize for Political Writing.
Caitlin’s latest book is Queens of the Underworld, a journey into the lives of female crooks from the 17th century to today, will be available on the night from the Word Bookshop.

Short films provided by Video Strolls. Video Strolls curates and hosts accessible public discussions and screenings of artists’ films about place, people and journeying.

24 March 2022 7pm – 10 pm
The Amersham Arms, 388 New Cross Road, London SE14 6TY
£7 / £5 concessions (Advance tickets advised)

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Conway Hall Talks

Psychogeographical Pilgrimage – Seeking Thin Places

Sonia Overall takes the path of the lone woman walker, seeking out ‘thin places’ where past and present collide, and where new ways of living might begin.

Thursday 1 July 2021 7.30 pm (GMT) start Book here. At present this is an online only event. Please register for an online ticket. In partnership with Conway Hall. Conway Hall is a charity and we politely ask you to add a donation of at least £5 when registering.

Sonia Overall takes to the old pilgrim roads, navigating a route from Canterbury to Walsingham via London and her home town of Ely.

Vivid in her evocation of a landscape of ancient chapels, ruined farms and suburban follies, Overall’s secular pilgrimage elevates the ordinary, collecting roadside objects – feathers, a bingo card, a worn penny – as relics. Facing injury and interruption, she takes the path of the lone woman walker, seeking out ‘thin places’ where past and present collide, and where new ways of living might begin.

Sonia Overall is a writer, psychogeographer and Senior Lecturer at Canterbury Christ Church University, where she runs the MA in Creative Writing. Her publications include the novels A Likeness and The Realm of Shells, and the poetry collection The Art of Walking. She is the founder of the Women Who Walk network of walking artists and academics, and an occasional musician, mummer and puppeteer. Her book Heavy Time is out 1 June 2021 from Penning in the Margins. She is the leader of the #DistanceDrift Sunday morning lock down walks.

Thursday 1 July 2021 7.30 pm (GMT) start Book here.

At present this is an online only event. Please register for an online ticket. In partnership with Conway Hall. Conway Hall is a charity and we politely ask you to add a donation of at least £5 when registering.

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Conway Hall Talks

Love-Locks: The History and Heritage of a Contemporary Custom

Walk over a major bridge in a Western city and chances are you will come across at least one or two love-locks. These are padlocks inscribed with names or initials and attached to a public structure, typically by a couple in declaration of romantic commitment, who then proceed to throw the key into the river below. Some assemblages of these love tokens are modest; others number the thousands. This has become a truly global phenomenon, with over 400 love-lock assemblages uncatalogued across 62 countries in all continents bar Antarctica: popular custom in the true sense of the term.

Thursday 11 February 2021 7.30 pm (GMT) start Book here.
This is an online only event. Please register for an online ticket. In partnership with Conway Hall. Conway Hall is a charity and we politely ask you to add a donation of at least £5 when registering.

A padlock is a mundane object, designed to fulfil a specific – and secular – purpose. A contemporary custom has given padlocks new significance. This custom is ‘love-locking’, where padlocks are engraved with names and attached to bridges in declaration of romantic commitment. This custom became popular in the 2000s, and its dissemination was rapid, geographically unbound, and highly divisive, with love-locks emerging in locations as diverse as Paris and Taiwan; New York and Seoul; Melbourne and Moscow.

As the love-lock custom gained popularity and familiarity, it became an established folk motif in films, television, and novels — from popular custom to popular culture — Ceri Houlbrook considers what these transitions demonstrate about the relationship, or interrelationship, between popular custom and popular culture.

Ceri Houlbrook explores the worldwide popularity of the love-lock as a ritual token of love and commitment by considering its history, symbolism, and heritage. Ceri is a Lecturer in History and Folklore in the History Group. Her primary research interests are the heritage and material culture of ritual and folklore in the British Isles, from c.1700 to the present day. She completed her PhD at the University of Manchester in 2014, having focused on the archaeology and heritage of the British coin-tree. She is the author of Unlocking the Love-Lock: The History and Heritage of a Contemporary Custom (Berghahn Books 2021).

Thursday 11 February 2021 7.30 pm (GMT) start Book here.
This is an online only event. Please register for an online ticket. In partnership with Conway Hall. Conway Hall is a charity and we politely ask you to add a donation of at least £5 when registering.

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Uncategorized

Online: Play Like A Feminist – Why Video Games Need Feminism

The goal is for all of us, -whatever our gender, ethnicity, ability or social class – is to spend more time playing as a tool of radical disruption.

In partnership with Conway Hall

7.30 pm (GMT / UTC) Monday 23 November 2020

Book online. Recommended Donation £5

Playing like a feminist is empowering and disruptive; it exceeds the boundaries of gender yet still advocates for gender equality. Playing like a feminist offers a new way to think about how humans play —and also a new way to think about how feminists do their feministing. Chess argues that feminism needs video games as much as video games need feminism.

Roughly half of all players identify as female, and Gamergate galvanized many of gaming’s disenfranchised voices. Games themselves are in need of a creative platform-expanding, metaphysical explosion; feminism can make games better. Chess reflects on the importance of play, and playful protest, and how feminist video games can help us rethink the ways that we tell stories. Play and games can be powerful. Chess’s goal is for all of us—regardless of gender orientation, ethnicity, ability, social class, or stance toward feminism—to spend more time playing as a tool of radical disruption.

Shira Chess teaches courses in media studies and media writing. Her research focuses on digital media studies with an emphasis on gender and gaming. Dr. Chess’ teaches courses that focus on both understanding and creating digital and traditional media. Prior to teaching in Grady College, she taught at Miami University of Ohio and worked as a game developer and web designer. She is the author of Ready Player Two and Play like a Feminist.

In partnership with Conway Hall

7.30 pm (GMT / UTC) Monday 23 November 2020

Book online. Recommended Donation £5

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Conway Hall Event Talks Uncategorized

Online: Wanderers: A History of Women Walking

Kerri Andrews discusses her book, Wanderers, about ten women over the past three hundred years who have found walking essential to their sense of themselves, as people and as writers.
7.30pm (BST) 23 September 2020 in partnership with Conway Hall.

Kerri Andrews discusses her book, Wanderers, about ten women over the past three hundred years who have found walking essential to their sense of themselves, as people and as writers.

Book for this online event at the following link: book here. We may be able to make physical tickets available. If this becomes possible we shall let everyone know. Conway Hall is a charity and we politely ask you to add a donation of around £5 when registering.

Wanderers traces their footsteps, from eighteenth-century parson’s daughter Elizabeth Carter – who desired nothing more than to be taken for a vagabond in the wilds of southern England – to modern walker-writers such as Nan Shepherd and Cheryl Strayed. For each, walking was integral, whether it was rambling for miles across the Highlands, like Sarah Stoddart Hazlitt, or pacing novels into being, as Virginia Woolf did around Bloomsbury.

Offering a beguiling view of the history of walking, Wanderers guides us through the different ways of seeing – of being – articulated by these ten pathfinding women.

Kerri is Senior Lecturer in English Literature at Edge Hill University. She writes about literary history, particularly untold or forgotten histories, and has published widely on women’s writing. Her book, Wanderers: A History of Women Walking, will be published by Reaktion Books in September 2020. Kerri is also one of the leaders of Women In The Hills, an Arts and Humanities Research Council-funded project aimed at exploring the factors enabling and inhibiting women’s access to upland landscapes. The project brings together people from all areas of walking, mountaineering, land access and management, to drive change in women’s access and experiences.

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Event Talks Uncategorized

Tear Down their Statues, Build your own Monuments

Really sorry.. we have had to cancel this event. We hope to be back with these brilliant talks in the autumn.

Alex von Tunzelmann – Fallen Idols

In 2020, statues across the world were pulled down in an extraordinary wave of global iconoclasm. From the United States and the United Kingdom to Canada, South Africa, the Caribbean, India, Bangladesh, and New Zealand, Black Lives Matter protests defaced and hauled down statues of slaveholders, Confederates, and imperialists. Edward Colston was hurled into the harbour in Bristol, England. Robert E. Lee was covered in graffiti in Richmond, Virginia. Christopher Columbus was toppled in Minnesota, beheaded in Massachusetts, and thrown into a lake in Virginia. King Leopold II of the Belgians was set on fire in Antwerp and doused in red paint in Ghent. Winston Churchill was daubed with the word ‘racist’ in London.

Statues are one of the most visible – and controversial – forms of historical storytelling. The stories we tell about history are vital to how we, as societies, understand our past and create our future. So whose stories do we tell? Who or what defines us? What if we don’t all agree? How is history made, and why?

Alex von Tunzelmann is a bestselling author, screenwriter, broadcaster, and media commentator. She lives in London.

The Stone Circle in SE4.

This is the story of the Stone Circle and sun clock installed on Hilly Fields for the Millennium in 2000. It covers the people and ideas behind the conception, planning and installation of this unique and much-loved local landmark. Presented by Clare Cowen of The Brockley Society.

Lucy Coleman Talbot – The Lore of Crossbones Graveyard

Lucy Coleman Talbot wrote her PhD on the famed Crossbones Graveyard, SE1, and has been advocating for its protection since 2016. Her landscape biography explores the layers of history and heritage encased within this post-medieval burial ground, which has become a place of myth, mourning, ritual, and resistance.

Owned by Transport for London since the 1990s, campaigns to protect the burial ground against commercial development date back to the 1880s. However, it is shamanic poet John Constable’s encounter with The Goose during an experimental, psychedelic writing session that sparked a vibrant new chapter in the graveyard’s story.

This evening Lucy will introduce you to The Goose and her Outcast Dead. Allowing her to demonstrate how the lore of Crossbones has transformed the burial ground into a memorial for all those existing at the margins of society, dead and alive… a patch of wild garden in a South London side street.

Books sales thanks to The Word Bookshop

Films from Video Strolls

14 June 2022 7pm – 10 pm
The Amersham Arms, 388 New Cross Road, London SE14 6TY
£6 / £4 concessions – Advance Tickets.

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Talks

William Blake and Heaven and Hell (with Puppet William Blake).

Presented with London Fortean Society

Statler and Waldorf from The Muppets meet the Ancient of Days.

7pm Tuesday 7 June 2022

£5 / £3 Concessions Advance Booking

The Miller, 96 Snowsfields, London Bridge, London SE1 3SS

Tube and Rail: London Bridge

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Cain Fleeing Abel William Blake, 1826

The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

The Marriage of Heaven and Hell is one of William Blake’s most extraordinary works – at times outrageous, radical, heretical, profound, bewildering and very funny. Come and join John Higgs – the author of William Blake Vs The World – for a reading of this magnificent little book, as he attempts to understand both the text and what it reveals about William Blake himself.

John Higgs is a writer who specialises in finding previously unsuspected narratives, hidden in obscure corners of our history and culture, which can change the way we see the world. In the words of MOJO magazine, “Reading John Higgs is like being shot with a diamond. Suddenly everything becomes terrifyingly clear”.

William Blake Vs The World will be available on the night via The Word Bookshop.

Puppet William Blake

Myra Stuart channels the wisdom and weirdness of ages through cuddly fleece. Expect Statler and Waldorf from The Muppets meet the Ancient of Days.
Hopefully more Blakean ephemera to be confirmed.

Blakeogeographer

Irish poet and Blakeogeographer Niall McDevitt will tell the story of Blake doing an ‘anorak psychogeographical recce’ in Southwark, as well as reading from Blake and reciting an original poem inspired by The Marriage of Heaven and Hell.
‘Savagely witty’ -Heathcote Williams.

Niall McDevitt is a poet and Blakeogeographer. He does astonishing things with place, poetry and the past. Niall is the author of three collections of poetry, b/w (Waterloo Press, 2010), Porterloo (International Times, 2013) and Firing Slits, Jerusalem Colportage (New River Press, 2016).

Presented with London Fortean Society

7pm Tuesday 7 June 2022

£5 / £3 Concessions Advance Booking

The Miller, 96 Snowsfields, London Bridge, London SE1 3SS

Tube and Rail: London Bridge

Facebook Page

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Uncategorized

Reweirding: Lost Landscape and Found Lore

Discover what remains of south London’s Great North Wood and revel in the revival of the Deptford Jack in the Green mayday celebration. Complementary verdant short films from Video Strolls.

28 April 2022 7pm – 10 pm
The Amersham Arms, 388 New Cross Road, London SE14 6TY
£5 / £3 concessions – Tickets are available on the door.

Lost Landscape: The Great North Wood

It is hard to imagine that the busy townscape of South London was once a great wood, stretching almost seven miles from Croydon to Deptford or that, scattered through the suburbs, from Dulwich to Norwood, a number of oak woodlands have survived since before the Norman Conquest.
These woods were intensively managed for a thousand years, providing timber for construction, furniture and shipbuilding, and charcoal for London’s blacksmiths, kilns and bakeries. Now they afford important green space, a vital habitat for small mammals, birds and insects.

Drawing on a wealth of documents, historic maps and environmental evidence C.J. Schüler, author of The Wood That Built London, charts the fortunes of the North Wood from its earliest times: its ecology, ownership, management, and the gradual encroachment of the metropolis. His book will be available on the night from The Word Bookshop.

Found Lore: The Deptford Jack in the Green

‘It is not more than 3 or 4 years since such a band were seen in the streets of Deptford. Jack in his greenery, twirling, and the male and female dancers with him pirouetting something after the traditional style.

The Kentish Mercury 18th May 1906

A photograph survived of the Deptford Jack in the Green on the back of which is a note from the photographer Thankful Sturdee, believed to have been written in about 1934, which reads: ‘Jack in the Green. Fowlers troop of Mayday revellers. ‘Jack in the Green’ was an old institution in Deptford and regularly kept up until about twenty years ago, when the police stopped all such customs’.

Deptford Jack in the Green. Thanks to The Folklore Society.

The Fowlers Troop Jack in the Green was revived by members of Blackheath Morris Men and friends in the early 1980s. It is a revival of a Jack in the Green from the late 19th/early 20th century which was taken out around Deptford, South East London on May Day by the original Fowlers Troop.
Sarah Crofts tells the tale of the Deptford Jack-in-the-Green and presents David Alyward’s film of the 2006 procession.

The Amersham Arms, 388 New Cross Road, London SE14 6TY
£5 / £3 concessions (tickets on the door)

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Uncategorized

Unofficial Britain – Journeys Through Unexpected Places

This is a land of industrial estates, factories and electricity pylons, of motorways and ring roads, of hospitals and housing estates, of roundabouts and flyovers. Places where modern life speeds past but where people and stories nevertheless collect. Places where human dramas play out: stories of love, violence, fear, boredom and artistic expression. Places of ghost sightings, first kisses, experiments with drugs, refuges for the homeless, hangouts for the outcasts.

Online event: Thursday 1 October 7.30 pm (BST) in partnership with Conway Hall.

£5 donation. Please book ins advance.

Free image/jpeg, Resolution: 4928×3264, File size: 2.45Mb, underpass tunnel

Book for this online event at the following link: book here. We may be able to make physical tickets available. If this becomes possible we shall let everyone know. Conway Hall is a charity and we politely ask you to add a donation of around £5 when registering.

Struck by the power of these stories and experiences, Gareth E. Rees set out to explore these spaces and the essential part they have played in the history and geography of our isles. Though mundane and neglected, they can be as powerfully influential in our lives, and imaginations, as any picture postcard tourist destination. This is Unofficial Britain, a personal journey along the edges of a landscape brimming with mystery, folklore and myth.

Gareth E. Rees is founder of the popular Unofficial Britain website and author of three books: Marshland, The Stone Tide and Car Park Life, published to rave reviews in 2019. Modern myths and folklore of place have always driven his writing, which includes horror and weird fiction tales for anthologies, including The Best of British Fantasy 2019. He is also vocalist for garage rock band The Dirty Contacts.

Categories
Conway Hall Event Talks

Online event: The Alchemy of Us – How Humans and Matter Transformed One Another

Online: Monday 25 May 2020 7.30 pm (BST)

This event will be held Online. Please register using the “Book Now” link

Register online. Do please donate £3 or so to our friends as Conway Hall. Conway Hall is a charity that has lost almost all of it’s income during the Covid-19 lock-down.

Ainissa Ramirez shows how materials were shaped by inventors, but also how those materials shaped culture, chronicling each invention and its consequences—intended and unintended. Filling in the gaps left by other books about technology, Ramirez showcases little-known inventors—particularly people of colour and women—who had a significant impact but whose accomplishments have been hidden by mythmaking, bias, and convention. Doing so, she shows us the power of telling inclusive stories about technology. She also shows that innovation is universal—whether it’s splicing beats with two turntables and a microphone or splicing genes with two test tubes and CRISPR.

In her new book The Alchemy of Us Ramirez tells the stories of the woman who sold time, the inventor who inspired Edison, and the hot-headed undertaker whose invention pointed the way to the computer. She describes, among other things, how our pursuit of precision in timepieces changed how we sleep; how the railroad helped commercialize Christmas; how the necessary brevity of the telegram influenced Hemingway’s writing style; and how a young chemist exposed the use of Polaroid’s cameras to create passbooks to track black citizens in apartheid South Africa. These fascinating and inspiring stories offer new perspectives on our relationships with technologies.

Ainissa Ramirez is a materials scientist and sought-after public speaker and science communicator. A Brown and Stanford graduate, she has worked as a research scientist at Bell Labs and held academic positions at Yale University and MIT. She has written for Time, Scientific American, the, American Scientist and Forbes, and makes regular appearances on PBS’s SciTech Now.