4th March 2015: Tales, Titbits and Trivia

The first part of the Society's March meeting took the form of its Annual General Meeting. Reports were accepted from the Secretary and the Treasurer. It was noted that the Society has had another successful year with good attendance at meetings and a series of interesting speakers. David de Saxe and Cristina Nance stood down as Chairman and Treasurer respectively and both were warmly thanked for their services. John Newman was elected as the new Chairman of the Society and Jim Symonds as its new Treasurer. Jenny Oram was prepared to continue as Secretary and was duly elected. Anne Findlay stood down as a Committee member and was thanked for her many years' service. Paul Burnham, Celia Deeks, Ellie Morris and Karen Mitcalfe were re-elected to the Committee and David de Saxe was also elected as a Committee member. The meeting was reminded that the first excursion this summer is on 9 May when the President, Ian Coulson, will lead a guided walk around Sandwich. The second excursion will take place on 10 June when David Carver will give a guided tour of medieval churches and buildings on Sheppey.

Following the AGM Chris McCooey, a freelance author and lecturer, gave a talk entitled 'Tales, Titbits and Trivia' in which he told various tales with a Kentish connection. The most bizarre involved the fate of Oliver Cromwell's head which was separated from Cromwell's body when Cromwell's corpse was disinterred from its grave in Westminster Abbey at the time of the Restoration. The corpse was convicted of regicide, was hung and then beheaded. The head was set on a spike outside Parliament until it came tumbling down after a fierce gale in 1685. The head continued its chequered career, eventually being acquired in 1815 by Josiah Henry Wilkinson who was born in Kent and whose descendant had the head interred again in 1960 in the precincts of Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge (Cromwell being MP for Cambridge before becoming Lord Protector). Thus Oliver Cromwell's head was finally laid to rest after a turbulent journey lasting 301 years! Less bizarre was the tale of the origins of the game Subbuteo whose inventor (Peter Adolf who lived at Langton Green) wished to call the game 'The Hobby'. Prevented from doing so for copyright reasons, Adolf, a keen bird watcher, came up with the name Subbuteo after the Hobby Falcon (falco subbuteo). A mixture of other tales, some informative, others amusing completed the evening's proceedings.

Jenny Oram