SNOW and freezing winds did not deter our hardy members from attending the meeting on March 1 (the first day of Spring!). Their fortitude was rewarded by an entertaining lecture by Dr. Gill White on her fifth visit. Her subject was the fascinating history of Bess of Hardwick and the house she built in Derbyshire, Hardwick Hall. The position of women in today's society would probably amaze Bess, although the ways of succeeding in the 16th Century were somewhat different. She became the second richest woman of the time (Queen Elizabeth 1 was the first). Born into minor gentry, her astonishing progress was achieved through four marriages and by being an astute business woman. She persuaded her second husband, Sir William Cavendish to build a house at Chatsworth. Her fourth was to George Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury which ultimately broke down. Thrown out of Chatsworth she bought the Hardwick Estate which had been owned by her brother. Not content with the existing Hall she built the impressive house we see today but still retaining the hall. She later also regained Chatsworth.

Dr. White gave us some wonderful snippets of what can be seen at Hardwick which has been little altered since built. When death duties were payable by the Duke of Devonshire (as the head of the Cavendish family had become) and either Chatsworth or Hardwick had to go, he opted to retain Chatsworth and pass Hardwick to the National Trust in lieu of death duties.

Our president, in thanking the speaker, said that when he had to choose whether to study either history or geography he chose geography but if the teacher had been Dr. White he would have chosen history.

We meet at 10am each Thursday at The Boathouse, Evesham Rowing Club. Our speaker on 8 March is Yvonne Penn of the Sailors' Society and on 15 March Dick and Lisa Robinson will be speaking about WW1 Nurse at the Front, Sister Edith Appleton. Full details can found on our website