Held at Buckfast Abbey Conference Centre
with Mark Cottle
The Life & Times of William Marshal, Knight (1147-1219)
Saturday, 20th September 2014
William Marshal's career spanned a long and dramatic period of English history - he knew personally all the Kings of England from 1135 to 1272. Born the fourth son of a minor baron, he ended his days as Earl of Pembroke and Regent of England. In short, the Marshal 'lived a life of epic proportions' and one that reflected many of the major themes of his age and class: warfare, chivalry and tournaments, marriage and dynastic ambition, pilgrimage and crusade. With reference to a contemporary biography written about him we will follow the career of one of the most remarkable men of a remarkable age.
A Photographic Odyssey : Shackleton’s Endurance Expedition Captured on Camera
Tuesday, 23rd September 2014
On Ernest Shackleton’s third Antarctic expedition in 1914, his ship, the Endurance, became trapped in the pack ice. Held fast for over 9 months, it was eventually crushed by the ice and sank. After surviving for five months in makeshift camps on the ice, Shackleton’s men rowed to the remote Elephant Island. From there, with five other men, Shackleton sailed for help in one of the ship’s lifeboats, the James Caird, to South Georgia. This journey, of about 800 miles and across some of the worst seas in the world, remains one of the most remarkable open boat journeys ever made. Against the odds, Shackleton reached South Georgia, and after some setbacks was eventually able to get back to Elephant Island to rescue the crew of the Endurance.

Frank Hurley, an Australian, was the expedition’s photographer and a pioneer in the emerging world of photo-journalism. Greenstreet, First Officer on the Endurance, called him “a warrior with his camera who would go anywhere or do anything to get a picture”. Hurley’s photographs form the visual narrative of an epic journey, capturing new and amazing landscapes in which a great human drama is played out.

The aim of the lecture is to capture Hurley’s achievements as a photographer of the Antarctic in the first flush of human contact when it was still essentially terra incognita.

Emma, Matilda, Hildegard, Isabella & Margaret : Medieval Portraits of Women in Power
Saturday, 29th November 2014
Spaning the period from the eleventh century to the fifteenth, this course focuses on the lives and careers of six women, who in differnet was rose above contemporary confines of their roles. Emma, wife respectively to Æthelraed the Unready and King Canute; Matilda, daughter of Henry II, who fought Stephen for control of the crown in a civil war; Hildegard of Bingen, abbess, poet, musician, healer and theologian; Isabella, ‘shewolf of France’, wife and eventual nemesis of Edward II and Margaret of Anjou, the driving force behind Henry VI and the Lancastrians in the Wars of the Roses. Together they form a roll call of medieval women who marked their personalities and ambitions firmly on the tapestry of their times.
The Early Stuarts and the Civil War
Saturday, 14th February 2015
James I (James VI of Scotland), inheriting the throne of England after the death of Elizabeth I, was arguably one of ENgland's less attractive kings, but he kept his kingdoms in peace, preserved the powers of the crown and held the church to a middle course. Unlike his mother and son, he died peacefully in his bed. By contrast, his son Charles, was a man with good qualities but temperamentally unsuited to the role he inherited. His power struggles with parliament unleased the civil war, brough about his execution, the abolition of the monarchy and the establishment of a republic. We will follow the course of these contrasting reigns with reference to the Civil War.
From Beowulf to the Exeter Book : Anglo-Saxon England Through teh Eyes of its Poets
Saturday, 21st March 2015
Four great Anglo-Saxon manuscripts of Anglo-Saxon poetry have survived: Beowulf, Junius, Vercelli and Exeter. Written in Anglo-Saxon, they form a compendium of a wide range of themes including heroic, religious, elegiac as well as riddles and charms. Together they provide fascinating insights into leading preoccupations of Anglo-Saxon England like warfare and religion but also to ordinary aspects of everyday existence. Looking at the poetry with reference to history and archaeology, we can go some way to a better understanding of the spirit of the age of Anglo-Saxon England
Masonry, Manuscipts & Music : An Inspirational Journey Through Medieval England
Saturday, 16th May 2015
The architecture, manuscript illumation and music of medieval England are among the greatest achievements of any period of English cultural history. The aim of the day is to open a window onto this world to capture something of the essence of its Romanesque and Gothic cathedrals, its rich span of manuscript illumination, both sacred and profane, and its music, both religious and secular. Essentially inspirational and aspirational, these are forms of artistic endeavour which can touch the sublime
Courses in Other Years