Eastbourne Ashridge Circle
Founded 1947

Meetings in 2017-18


Please use the links below to view our previous meeting programmes.

25th September 2017, 2:30pm & 7:30pm


LUCY WORSLEY - Illustrated

Dr. Lucy Worsley is passionate about making history engaging to the widest possible audience. Her new biography of Jane Austen takes a new look at Jane Austen’s life from the perspective of her bi-centenary. It considers what home meant to Jane, and tells the story through the rooms, spaces, possessions and places which mattered to her. Dispelling the myth of the cynical, lonely spinster Lucy instead offers us a witty and passionate woman of her time, who refused to settle for anything less than Mr. Darcy.

Lucy is Chief Curator at Historic Royal Palaces; she is an hugely popular writer, broadcaster and speaker. Her talks in theatres and festivals are always well attended and we are delighted to welcome her to the Ashridge Circle.

9th October 2017, 2:30pm & 7:30pm



Passions are running high in Ukraine and the breakaway states of the Caucasus. Vladimir Putin’s adventures in Ukraine took the West by surprise. But John thinks in some ways they followed a pattern that goes back more than a century to the time of the Tsars. Since the Soviet Union’s break-up, Transnistria, Abkhazia and South Ossetia have become Russia’s ‘forgotten’ satellite states – unrecognised and unheard of by most outsiders.

Now Donetsk and Luhansk have joined the list, and Russia has full control of Crimea. In 2015 John met people on both sides of these disputed borders, and promises some surprising insights. John has been called “one of Britain’s greatest tellers of travellers’ tales”. For many years he was a broadcaster with the BBC World Service and Radio 4, making travel documentaries and contributing to programmes such as ‘From Our Own Correspondent’. But it’s for his thought- provoking talks and photographs that people know him best. He has spoken to over 1,000 audiences in six countries, and holds the Royal Geographical Society’s Ness Award for popularising geography and the wider understanding of the world.

23rd October 2017, 2:30pm & 7:30pm



Michael is a world travelled writer and lecturer who has enjoyed a life-long interest in the theatre and, in particular, the works of Shakespeare and Oscar Wilde. When selected as one of only six persons - from an application list of over 600 - to be a member of the Laurence Olivier Awards Panel, he saw 108 theatrical productions in 14 months.He has over many years presented numerous talks within the theatre genre and related subjects both on board cruise ships and before land based organisations. Written in the rst person, Michael gives a portrayal of the joys and sadness in the life of Oscar Wilde from birth to death. He also features the famous trial scene when Wilde spoke of the poem ‘The love that dares not speak its name’ and delivers extracts from ‘The Ballad of Reading Gaol’ and other great works.

6th November 2017, 2:30pm & 7:30pm



Dr. Melanie Windridge is a plasma physicist, lecturer, writer with a taste for adventure. She has a PhD in fusion energy from Imperial College London and is Communications Consultant for fusion start-up Tokamak Energy. She also works in education with the Ogden Trust, Anturus and Your Life. Melanie loves the mountains and believes science and exploration go hand in hand. In her talk, she will be discussing the Northern Lights. Do we really understand the aurora? Dr Melanie Windridge investigates, bringing together space, place and science in style. Speaking about her new book and describing a journey that takes her through Scandinavia, Canada and Svalbard – culminating in a spectacular solar eclipse – Melanie delves into the science and history of the Northern Lights.

13th November 2017, 2:30pm & 7:30pm


KEITH LIDDELL - Illustrated

Dr. Keith Liddell, MD. FRCP is a retired Consultant Dermatologist who now lives in Eastbourne with his wife, Linda. He qualifed in Medicine at Leeds Medical School and was awarded a Nuf eld Scholarship in Tropical Medicine to India. He has been deeply interested in archaeology and the classics since childhood and over the years he has explored many remote archaeological sites, so his hobby and profession have enabled him to specialise in the subject of medicine around the world. He has lectured nationally and internationally on different aspects of medicine in antiquity and his illustrated talks feature photos taken by Linda.

His presentation will cover medical conditions, their effects on Communities as well as their spiritual management. Although many civilisations will be mentioned he will concentrate on Angient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans.

20th November 2017, 2:30pm & 7:30pm


JOHNNIE WALKER - Illustrated

Johnnie Walker made his name in the 60s with the pirate ship Radio Caroline. His night-time show was essential listening for 86% of the night-time audience, which increased to over 20 million Europe-wide on the night of 14 August 1967, as Walker and ‘Caroline’ continued in defiance of Government legislation which silenced all the others. During his first seven-year period with Radio 1 from 1969 to 1976, Johnnie Walker established a reputation as a DJ who accorded more importance to the records he played than the chat in between. On his lunchtime show, he pioneered new names like Steve Harley, Lou Reed, Fleetwood Mac, The Eagles, and Steely Dan. Pop The Question and the Tuesday Chart Rundown were other well remembered features of the show. In April 2006 he began his Sunday show on Radio 2 reflecting spirituality. That same year he was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List. Johnnie now presents Sounds Of The 70s, Radio 2 In Concert, Johnnie Walker’s Long Players and Johnnie Walker Meets ... - a series of occasional in-depth interviews with some of music’s biggest names – all on BBC Radio 2.

22nd January 2018, 2:30pm & 7:30pm


ALAN WENHAM - Illustrated

Alan Wenham was born and raised in Eastbourne. He returned here 40 years later following his retirement as a local authority chief executive. It was only then that he began to appreciate the fascinating history of the town and now delights in sharing it with others. He is associated with a number of local groups and organisations in a voluntary capacity. ‘TheTerminus Road’,as it was originally called, has hosted four different railway stations as well as some of the most exclusive shops in the region.Those who could afford it were treated to tea dances most afternoons. Ladies did not carry baskets - that was a job for the maid or the delivery boy.This fully illustrated talk shows how one of Eastbourne’s principal streets evolved and features some of the people who made it happen.

12th February 2018, 2:30pm & 7:30pm


Film Director Marc Sinden (son of Sir Donald) and the actress Maddie Smith, star of Bond, Hammer and the Up Pompeii lms invite you to an intimate evening sharing the anecdotes and personal stories that have never been publicly told before. Marc and Maddie will tell the hysterical stories of living and working with a famous British actor, the real stories that Donald never told of working with Clarke Gable and Grace Kelly, the pressure of fame, what it was like to go to bed with 007 and being the sex symbol of the Hammer Horror series. Using film clips, they will illustrate aspects of the actors wonderful, crazy life!

12th March 2018, 2:30pm & 7:30pm



Author and local historian Geoff Hutchinson was born in Hastings in 1942 and has lived in East Sussex all his life. He has a tremendous enthusiasm for local history and the colourful characters associated with it. He also has a passion for drama and his ability to combine the two has proved a successful formula. His personal crusade is to make history lively and vibrant. His books, presentations and impersonation of local worthies have proved popular with all ages and have led to him making many contributions to radio and television. He has, over the last 20 years, built a considerable reputation as an entertaining speaker. For this presentation he invites you to meet and spend some time in the company of Rudyard Kipling as the author re ects on his eventful life through his readings and verse. Delivered in the first person, it is an informative, humorous and moving insight into the great man’s life.

19th March 2018, 2:30pm & 7:30pm



Born into a working class family at the end of the Second World War, Alistair benefited hugely from the Education Act of 1944 and had seven wonderful years as a pupil at Ecclesfield Grammar School in the West Riding of Yorkshire. Football was a major pre- occupation and he played for the school team as well as playing a handful of games for Sheffield Wednesday Juniors. He still follows Sheffield Wednesday and he is a season ticket holder and one-time shareholder. He did his degree (LLB) at the London School of Economics 1962-5 and a Masters Degree (LLM) at Sheffield University 1966-7.

He married in 1969 and was widowed in 1991. He has two daughters by his late first wife and a daughter and son with Kate whom he married in 1993. He was called to the Bar in 1969, took silk (QC) in 1993 and became a Circuit Judge in 1997; then a High Court Judge in 2008 when he was knighted.

He has loved every moment (almost) of a hugely interesting and enjoyable career, which has provided him with a fund of memories, some sad, some amusing, but all, hopefully interesting. He wishes to share some of these with you today. He will recount the wonderful story of the Cromford taxi murder – but also touch upon other of his trials – both on the bench and at the bar. And, he hopes to inform and entertain.

9th April 2018, 2:30pm & 7:30pm


ANDY THOMAS - Illustrated

Andy Thomas is a leading researcher into unexplained mysteries and author of many books, including the acclaimed ‘The Truth Agenda’ and ‘Conspiracies: The Facts - The Theories - The Evidence’. Andy widely writes and lectures and has made numerous radio and TV appearances. Andy makes a welcome return to the Ashridge Circle following his very successful talks on the mystery of Crop Circles and A Conspiracy History of the World. In a thought-provoking and lively presentation, Andy Thomas explores some of the most famous global mysteries, finding unexpected linking threads between them. What is the truth about real-life ‘X Files’ - UFOs, ghosts, pyramids, mysterious animals, religious apparitions, psychic phenomena and visions of the future, and what is their connection to famous conspiracy theories concerning everything from the Moon landings to the ‘New World Order’? Are we really told the truth about the world we live in? A lecture guaranteed to spark debate!

23rd April 2018, 2:30pm & 7:30pm



The best known of all HM The Queen’s former press secretaries, Dickie Arbiter is the man the world’s press always call when the Royals are in the news for whatever reason be it weddings, deaths, births, celebrations, overseas visits, scandals, incidents and general interest stories. An exceptionally talented speaker Dickie has 50 years of experience covering royalty, heads of state, and other globally recognised personalities.

There have been kings and queens in the UK for over a thousand years, and despite quirks of nature and accidents of birth, the join from one reign to the next has been almost seamless. Dickie dips into the history of the monarchy from the Hanoverian Georges to the present day Elizabethan age and beyond.

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