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History 4 Fun

14 November 2023


Member trying on gauntlet Member trying on a gauntlet at a recent session where they learned
about knights and the weapons and clothing they would have had.

The History for Fun group at East Suffolk u3a has been going since about 2016 and quite a few of us have been attending since we started. Members choose their own topics and do some research on the topic and then feed back to the group. We try to decide what we are doing on a half termly basis and we usually have two talks each month, one longer one, then refreshments, and then a shorter one. The basic premise is a person, place or event that our members are interested in.There is a hard core of us that thrives on doing research. We have a few members with dementia, and obviously they are welcome to come and just enjoy the sessions without any expectations.

As to what we have done, well that's a long story. This month we did Jane Austen and The Real Oliver Twist - Robert Blincoe. In the past we have covered Thomas Clarkson - the abolitionist who lived locally in his later years, William Wordsworth, the celebration of (seaside) piers in 1999, the storm of 1987, the RSPCA, John Newton (who wrote Amazing Grace), Florence Nightingale, The Tolpuddle Martyrs, The Romanoffs, Portraits of Elizabeth I, Tomatoes - a local history of the Land Settlement Association in Newbourne, Black Tudors, Lancashire Witches, Why does Santa wear red?, Robert Owen, Model Villages, and in November it will be the History of Hampton Court Palace. Plus, we have done much more over the time, including Zoom talks during lockdown.

At a recent meeting of History 4 Fun, we had a visit from Sir William FitzWarin alias Tom Harris. We were treated to a whole range of swords and weapons being passed amongst us all. The weight of some of them drew gasps of ‘how heavy’ they were. We learnt about how the clothing helped protect the knights and how the suits of armour were created for each individual knight. A few brave members tried on the helmet and the gauntlet. A very interesting, different and lively morning thanks to our knowledgeable visitor.

As a leader I double check annually that the members are happy with this approach as opposed to working straight through a period of history. However, it seems to work well as we never know what will come up during the half term period. I now also have a second member, John, who shares the lead and various volunteers take on several jobs over time. John always has a talk ready in case we need one.

The group is great fun and there is a very relaxed and friendly atmosphere in the group. At first our coffee times were very short, but now, everyone is so busy chatting that I often have to call them back to the talk!!!! What is really lovely is that we have a high proportion of men in the group, unlike some groups that seem to be predominantly female. I think that we are very lucky as it makes such a well-balanced group. I would highly recommend this type/model of history group.

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