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Eastbourne Ashridge Circle|Founded 1947

Lecture Date: March 11, 2024


Speaker: MELINDA STONE - Illustrated

A wide-ranging and closely-researched account of the often downtrodden daily lives of British women 300 years ago and their place in a male-oriented world.

History is often told in terms of battles, political and religious machinations and industrial developments. Rather less attention is paid to the realities of daily life for ordinary people living in any particular period; and, even when this aspect is addressed, the focus tends to be significantly more on men’s lives than women’s.

The 17th century was a period of increasing literacy in England, but opinions on women’s education and roles in society fluctuated significantly through the years from the death of Elizabeth I, via the Civil War and the Restoration, to the accession of Queen Anne in 1702.

In a century in which much changed for the fair sex – for maids, wives and widows alike – Melinda will explore different areas impinging on women in the 17th century, such as childhood, education, marriage, clothing, food, childbirth, medicines, employment opportunities and even the esoteric practice of witchcraft.

After 40 years working in the NHS, mainly in East Sussex, Melinda reinvented herself as a tour guide at Herstmonceux Castle and subsequently gave illustrated talks about it. As she learned more of the Castle’s history, she began exploring the day-to-day lives of the women who lived there, which in turn mushroomed into a much wider examination of key events in women’s lives across England at the time.