Maldon U3A - Meetings 2017

Click on an underlined title to go to a report of that talk.

Monday 16th January 2017 Graphology
by Sandra Grayson.
Monday 20th February 2017 Growing Old Disgracefully
by Chris Winter.
Monday 20th March 2017 The Life of Henry VIII
by Tony Strange.
17th April 2017 >>> No meeting as it's Easter Monday <<<
15th May 2017 Becoming a successful Author
by Martin Lloyd.
19th June 2017 AGM and strawberry tea.
17th July 2017 Local Architecture
by Veronica Smith.
23rd August 2017 The English Tea Company
by Jane Malyon.
18th September 2017 Maldon & District Design of Ancient Buildings
by Veronica Smith.
16th October 2017 Keeping Active
by Arthur Tear.
20th November 2017 History of Essex through Foods
by Rev. Keith Lovell.
18th December 2017 Christmas Special

January Monthly Meeting

Veronica said she was pleased to be able to introduce a speaker because the scheduled speaker unfortunately was not able to attend today, however next month's speaker was able to travel from Loughton to be with us today.   She is Sandra Grayson, a handwriting specialist. With that the microphone played up and was exchanged.

Sandra was wired for sound but that too played up so she used the wired hand microphone and introduced her subject of Calligraphy. With that the projector stopped working so she explained how she used to have a good job working for Corporate clients until the IBM Personal Computer appeared when they found they could obtain various Fonts with the click of a key on a keyboard.   She then got a good job in the City until one day while teaching a 8 year old child about handwriting she realised she was in the wrong profession and gave in her notice.

She said this was one of those Life Changing Moments - she then started teaching handwriting full time and ended up on cruise ships.   24 countries later she now lectures to the U3A and WI and similar organisations - however next year she will be in Stratford Upon Avon and opening a Calligraphy School which will be open to everyone.

At this stage the projector was started (audience clapped) with the aid of Sandra's extension lead and a move of the sound desk.   Sandra then showed samples of handwriting on the screen and explained how one could get a good idea about the writer.   A list of what can and cannot be interpreted from the handwriting was presented and discussed.   The signature followed by a full stop caused some amusement because it meant the writer is saying "I have had the last word".

A selection of famous signatures were then shown and explained - very interesting.   After a Question and Answer session Veronica thanked Sandra - the audience expressed their thanks as well.

Thank you Sandra for turning up today and with your interest you explained the subject so well - we wish you well in Stratford Upon Avon.

John Bowen

March Monthly Meeting

With rain threatening and a high wind we were ushered into the large hall having first collected our new Membership Badges – assuming we had paid!

Our Chairman appeared on stage nursing what looked like a broken arm and carried out the normal introduction duties.

After the usual 10 minute break to enable Members to sign up for the many coming events, Henry VIII was introduced.

With a tremendous roar Henry leapt onto the stage, dressed as though he had just left his Chambers.

Amidst gasps of bewilderment, John Strange introduced himself in a bold manner – a manner he continued to entrance us with for the best part of an hour.

He concentrated on his 6 Wives.

Born on the 28th June 1491 at Greenwich Palace he became heir to the English Throne in 1502 but became King at age 18 on the untimely death of his brother in 1509.   Soon afterwards he obtained the Pope's permission to marry his Brother's Widow, Catherine of Aragon.

He reminded the audience that the sole duty of a Royal Wife was to produce a male heir and so continue the Tudor line.   Unfortunately this was not to be the case with Catherine producing only Mary after a number of miscarriages.   He said he was married to her for 24 years – much to the amazement of the audience.

An annulment was request from Pope Clement VII, who did not agree as Catherine of Aragon's Nephew was Charles V – the most powerful ruler in Europe at that time.

Henry then declared that he was the Head of the Church of England and married Anne Boleyn in a secret ceremony.

In 1533 Anne gave Henry a daughter, Elizabeth ( the future Queen Elizabeth I) but after a couple of miscarriages Henry was still waiting for his heir – she was arrested in 1536 and beheaded in the Tower of London.

Henry was a very good jouster but fell off he horse in 1536 and was unconscious for 2 hours – he was very badly shaken up and suffered a leg wound which became ulcerated and remained with him for the rest of his life.

His 3rd wife was Jane Seymour, the Lady-in-Waiting to Anne and did produce the heir Henry so desperately wanted – she died in childbirth.

Henry looked far and wide for a wife and was persuaded to marry Anne of Cleves from Germany.   Hobarth painted a miniature of her from the front – Henry was not to know she was “ugly” and could not speak English.   She agreed to an Annulment and was given a generous settlement including Hever Castle and the name "The Kings Sister" and outlived his later 2 wives and the King, dying in 1557.

In 1540, Henry married Catherine Howard but was short lived as he found out she had been unfaithful – she was executed for adultery and treason in 1542 in the Tower of London.

His final marriage was to Catherine Parr who really acted as a nurse maid to him – by now he weighed some 28 stone with a waist of 60 inches and ulcerated legs.

He died on 28th January 1547 and was succeeded by his son, Edward VI. Henry was buried next to Jane Seymour in St Georges Chapel in Windsor Castle.

Catherine Parr soon married Thomas Seymour and moved to Sudeley Castle in Winchcombe near Cheltenham where she gave birth to Mary but soon fell ill and died and then buried there - you can still visit her tomb. John said she is the only English Queen not to be buried in Royal Grounds. She was 36.

A superb afternoon with great presentation – half without the microphone – enjoyed by all. Thank you to John Harris.

John Bowen

October Monthly Meeting

Andy Tear from Danbury Sports and Social Centre appeared on-stage looking a lot younger than his real age and fit with it.   He said that with his “helper” Andy Simmonds he was going to show us today a number of fitness exercises that would keep us all fit and healthy.

For the next hour he put Andy Simmonds through a quite rigours sequence of moves – all for our entertainment.   Good humour between the two on-stage prevailed throughout.

Thank you both for an entertaining afternoon.

John Bowen

November Monthly Meeting

Chairman Brian Johnson Chairman Brian Johnson opened the meeting and invited the Group Leaders to approach the stage and update the audience with their latest information.

After a 15 minute break to enable those present to register for the many activities scheduled for the coming months, the speaker was introduced.

Keith Lovell Once wired for sound the Rev Keith Lovell said that for 34 years he had been the vicar of Tollesbury but had retired some 8 years ago – he was still a practicing vicar as the need arose.

Today he said he was going to tell the History of Essex through Foods.
He said he has researched 9 foods and listed them, but a lady called out that she grew and ate the Essex Wonder Tomato – they agreed to share the information after the meeting.

Keith started with the story of Mr Deal from the village of Inworth growing in the 1880s a garden pea which he named the Kelvedon Wonder on the basis that no one would know where Inworth was.   Kelvedon was on the rail link to London and this was used to transport his produce and known to many people.   It is a main cropping variety and still popular today.

Maldon Salt had been produced from water in the River Blackwater for thousands of years as this river was the second most salty river in England – the first being in Chester.   Iron Age man heated clay vessels but the Romans increased production by using heated clay lined pots to boil the water off so leaving the salt.   Today this is exported to nearly every country in the World.

He told the story of the trial whereby a recently married couple have to declare “they would not have changed for none other” after a year and a day.   Assuming they are not challenged they are awarded a flitch of bacon at Dunmow.   The couple are then carried through the streets in a chair – the original being in a church – modern figures being wider than those of the middle ages.

Thomas George Osbourne started the Cockles business in 1881 and supplied the Crooked Billet public house in Old Leigh.   In 1928 his first boat was built and called the Renown.   It famously went to Dunkirk and because it had a shallow draught it was used to ferry 1,000 men to larger ships.   Tragically on the way home it stuck a mine and was blown to pieces together with Frank and Leslie (Lukie) Osbourne, Harry Noakes and Harold Porter.   There is a memorial in St Clements churchyard to honour these brave men.   The business is thriving and run by the Osbourne Brothers.

Oysters have been harvested from Essex for thousands of years but since the Roman times mainly at Maldon and Mersea Island (where Keith now lives) and when there is a “R” in the month – rest of the time they are spawning.

The Wilkins family started farming the Tiptree strawberries in 1885 and in the early 1900s produced 300 tons/year. They are exported now to nearly every country in the world.

Saffron was introduced into England in the 14th Century and grown in such large quantities the town of Saffron Waldren was so named.   In the 16th Century it produced the largest quantity in the world, however it proved to be difficult and very labour intensive – 150 crocus are need to produce one gram of saffron – more expensive than gold – it largely died out, but is being revived.

Many named varieties of Essex Apples have been produced thoughout the ages – Keith told us about but two – one had a poor looking skin but tasted quite nice then.   The Seabrook family have produced many including Garnet and Opal.

Whilst writing this up I have realised Keith could have found more than a dozen more “Foods from Essex” including vineyards.

Thank you Keith for an interesting talk.

John Bowen

December Christmas Party

Chairman Brian Johnson opened the meeting and welcomed any new Members and the large number of Members present. He reminded members that the Newsletter contained the latest information from the many Interest Groups.

Veronica said that the format of this meeting was entertainment based on "Shows" then, after a social break, the second part would be based on Christmas Carols.

The hall stage had been decorated with all things Christmas as were all the many tables. Sparkling and still water, orange and apple juice and mulled wine were brought around to be consumed together with trays of "nibbles".

The enthusiastic keyboard player and the pleasant lady singer entertained the large audience firstly with songs from the musicals and then of a more Christmas nature.

Sandwiches were brought around on nice plastic trays – there was a good mix of white and brown bread and a different range of fillings.

At the conclusion of the event the entertainers were thanked with a lovely bouquet of flowers for the lady singer and a "bottle" for the keyboard player.
The U3A organisers were thanked individually.

A good afternoon was enjoyed by all.

John Bowen.




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Last revised 22 December 2017.