Report of Events

Past Events Archive


AGM 2017

At the AGM of the Society in March Suzie Faubert the Chairman gave a report of the meetings held over the past year. David Simmons reported that the Finances were healthy. Our president Ken Fowler has decided to step down from the committee, hoping someone younger would join the committee with fresh ideas, he will however remain as the president. The remainder of the committee were prepared to continue serving.
Following the AGM The speaker at the meeting was Alex Ferris who spoke about the Plague in 17th century Smarden, an interest he pursued when researching into their Society archives he discovered 50 deaths unrecorded in the parish; These were thought to be of plague victims excluded from the village. Mr Ferris then went on to relate various perceived cures for the plague and avoidance measures from contracting it.

At the April meeting Rod Shelton gave a presentation on Lullingstone the Rise & Fall of a Roman Villa explaining the reasons for this; he brought along to the meeting two models of the Villa to demonstrate where additions were made.

In May David Carder showed slides of the Romney Churches beginning from Hythe along the ridge to Winchelsea and from there on to the marshes.
All but one of the Churches are still in use, many built of rag stone but one, Fairfield Church was wooden. Followed by a visit in June when members took a trip around 4 churches on Romney Marsh guided by David Carder.

July Members Summer Tea The Society enjoyed the Summer Strawberry Tea in the Garden of The Old Forge by kind permission of Richard Inniss, who gave a talk on the history of the house.




September 2017

Rat catchers' was the subject of David Cufley's illustrated talk on 15 September 2017.
Himself descended from a nineteenth-century dynasty of rat catchers in Enfield, David traced the history of rats from the worst medieval plague (1348-50), to the first use of the word 'rat catcher' in English (1592), the first appearance of the story of the Pied Piper of Hamelin in English (1605), and the Great Plague of London (1665) as documented in weekly printed Bills of Mortality.

Then, drawing on Henry Mayhew, London Labour and the London Poor (1851-62), he described the popular sport of Rat Matches in London pubs.
Two dogs competed in a sunken pit surrounded by spectators to see how many rats they could kill in a set time. The dogs, often terriers, killed the rats by taking them in their mouths and shaking them to death. The winner received a prize and there were wagers among the spectators. Jimmy Shaw, an ex-prize fighter, held Rat Matches on Wednesdays and Saturdays in his pub in Bunhill Row, behind the burial ground in City Road.
So popular was the sport that country rat catchers, who had been receiving 2d. from farmers for each dead rat, could now make 3d. by bringing live rats to London, where they were held in cages and fed until their time came.
London sewer rats could also be used, but only after a period of quarantine because of the danger of infecting the dogs. Jimmy Shaw's establishment accounted for 26,000 rats a year, and his was only one of some 40 London pubs to offer the sport. Contemporary illustrations show some of the rat pits, and also the traditional dress of rat catchers in a velvet jacket, corduroy trousers, and laced up boots. In the early nineteenth century rat catching was more profitable than ordinary farm labour, but as agricultural wages increased it became a less attractive occupation. It is not certain when the last pub closed its rat pit. Altogether a fascinating talk on an unexpected corner of Victorian life.




October 2017

Mary Smith the speaker at the October meeting of the Society related A School Girl's War at Maidstone Grammar School, prompted by the discovery in the school archives in the early 2000s of a book of paintings, amusing and detailed illustrations of life in the air raid shelter during the war.
The artist Miss Keen had been a teacher at the school during the war. In 2013 some of the air raid shelters were opened up and Mary Smith headmistress of Maidstone Grammar, contacted pupils who had attended the school during the war to visit and reminisce. Her book records their memories and the excellent paintings.
Primary School children have been on visits to the shelter where they experienced the siren going off and were given a war time lunch.




November 2017

William Alexander gave an excellent talk about the changing times at Castle Farm, from the earliest records of a castle on the site through to the time the Alexander family arrived in Shoreham from Scotland.
He outlined the crops and livestock kept on the farm to accommodate different agricultural requirements and trends.
William brought along many maps, artefacts obtained from the land, photographs and even a piece of wood from the original timbers that had formed the raft on which to build the earliest castle.
Altogether a very interesting evening.


Shoreham And District
Historical Society
Affiliated to
The Shoreham Society
The Kent History Federation and
The Kent Archaeological Society

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Shoreham And District Historical Society
Last Updated

January 10, 2018