Friday, September 11, 2015

BIRTHDAY LECTURE: 7 November 2015, Liddington Village Hall, near Swindon


Richard Jefferies was a prolific journalist who contributed to a wide range of periodicals and newspapers, including some of the best known titles of his day. In Professor Sloan’s talk he will use a selection of Jefferies’ work which first appeared in the press to consider who his readers were, the nature of his appeal as a journalist, and the positions he took on some of the contemporary issues that he addressed in his columns. Was he progressive or reactionary, sentimental or pragmatic in his views of the changes taking place in rural life and work, and on the relationship between the country and the town or city? How do Jefferies’ views compare with those of some of his fellow rural commentators, and how did they change over time?
Prof Barry Sloan is based in the English department of the University of Southampton. He is currently preparing material for a book which draws on the periodical press, and the work of agricultural writers such as Alexander Somerville, James Caird and H. Rider Haggard, and of cultural commentators such as William Howitt, Richard Jefferies and George Sturt, to examine the history of the social/cultural representations of the agricultural labourer in England from the 1830s to 1914.

Saturday, May 09, 2015

STUDY DAY - Jefferies' London

SATURDAY 27th June 2015

Richard Jefferies Society Study Day--Jefferies' London
(Open to the public. Admission is free.)

“It is by no means so generally realized how great a part London plays in his [Jefferies] writings,” writes Samuel Looker in his introduction to Richard Jefferies London [London: Lutterworth Press, 1944].

Simon Coleman will discuss Jefferies’ London in the morning and participants will be invited to select and read relevant passages from Jefferies' works.

The managers of St Pancras Parish Church Hall double-booked us for the first hour of our meeting, so the vicar has allowed us to meet in the Church for the first hour. We shall visit the British Library in the afternoon to look at some of the Jefferies’ archives. Registering for day passes on the day may be slow. You need to bring proof of identity (passport, driving licence, bank card, credit card, bearing signature) and proof of address (utility bill less than three months old, Council Tax Bill or TV licence issued for the current year).  The initial registration can be done online at

10.00   Meet at St Pancras Parish Church, Euston Rd, London NW1 2BA opposite Euston Station (see map). Readings from the floor – select a relevant piece of Jefferies’ writing by or about Jefferies (5 minutes long) on the subject of London to read to others.

11.00   Relocate to St Pancras Parish Church Hall (in Lancing Street) for refreshments and a talk on Jefferies’ London by Simon Coleman. Followed by more readings from the floor.

1.00-2.30 Lunch break at the Friends Meeting House on the Euston Road – there is a cafĂ© and restaurant or you can eat your packed lunch in the garden.

2.30 Visit to Manuscripts Room British Library – see above.

4.00     Depart

Please let the Hon. Sec know by 1st June if you are able to attend by emailing

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Programme for 2015

Sat 7 March    Joint meeting with the Friends of Alfred Williams.
Venue: Richard Jefferies Museum, Marlborough Road, Swindon, Coate SN3 6AA. Time: 2-4.30pm.

 This year it is the Society’s turn to host the gathering. Select a short extract to read to others by or about Richard Jefferies or Alfred Williams or just come along to listen.


Sat 27 June    A Study Day. 
                       Venue: London - St Pancras Parish Church Hall (am only):

                        Time: 10.00am-4.30pm.

                        Theme: Richard Jefferies’ London.

Sat 7 Nov         AGM and Birthday Lecture

                      Venue: Liddington Village Hall. Time: 10.30am-4.30pm

Birthday Lecture: ‘History & Rural Affairs with reference to Richard Jefferies’. Speaker: Prof. Barry Sloan.
Meetings are open to the public and free to attend.

Monday, August 11, 2014

The Presence of the Past: Richard Jefferies, the Middle Ridgeway and landscape change

Richard Jefferies Society Birthday Lecture

Saturday 25 October 2014 - 2.30-4.40pmSubject: The Presence of the Past:  Richard Jefferies, the Middle Ridgeway and landscape change
Speaker: Prof. Patrick Dillon
Venue: Liddington Village Hall, Church Road, Liddington, SN4 0HB
Admittance: Free
Richard Jefferies' lifetime spans a period of intensification in agriculture, culminating in ‘High Farming’, followed by one of depression. The ups and downs of farming and the associated impacts on wildlife and the countryside are recurring themes in his writing. Viewed from the perspective of environmental history, Jefferies' works can be seen as a commentary on an ever changing relationship between economy and ecology, land-use and wildlife. In this lecture Patrick will offer an insight into the downland landscapes of Jefferies' country and the changes that have taken place subsequently. The agriculturally-dominating influence of the London market, the relationship between ploughland and grassland, land holding, and countryside sports, emerge from the historical record as the chief forces that have created the landscape we see today and the wildlife that inhabits it.  In exploring these themes, he will draw on a book, ‘Middle Ridgeway’, written jointly with Eric Jones, and illustrated with landscape paintings by his daughter Anna Dillon. Publication of the book is anticipated in 2015.
Patrick Dillon is an Emeritus Professor at the University of Exeter.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Programme for 2014


Sat 1 March*   Joint meeting with the Friends of Alfred Williams. It is the Friends turn to host the meeting. Select a short extract to read to others by or about Richard Jefferies or Alfred Williams or just come along to listen.

Sat 5 April*     Guided walk and talk around Coate Farm by Clive Carter as a result of his discoveries about the buildings as part of an architectural and historical survey and study.
Sat 10 May*    Illustrated talk about Geoffrey Winthrop Young and his Bevis archive by Jean Saunders.

Sat 26 July      A Study Day. Jefferies’ Museum: 10.30am-4.30pm. Theme: Humour in Richard Jefferies’ writing.
* Meetings are held at the Richard Jefferies Museum, Marlborough Road, Coate, Swindon SN3 6AA starting at 2pm.
There is plenty of parking space at Coate Water (about 5 minutes walk away) and there is a footpath to the back garden of the Museum that runs close to the miniature railway.

From Swindon town centre (Fleming Way), there are several bus services that stop next to Coate Water roundabout. These include: Monday to Saturday - daytime: Numbers 13, 14, and 20.

The Museum is open to the public every Sunday from May-September (2-5pm) and the second Wednesday of the month, 10am-4pm, throughout the year.

Sat 25 Oct         AGM and Birthday Lecture, Liddington Village Hall.
                         AGM 10.30am-1pm
                         Birthday lecture 2.30-4.30pm

Birthday Lecture, 25 October 2014
Subject: The Presence of the Past:  Richard Jefferies, the Middle Ridgeway and landscape change
Speaker: Prof. Patrick Dillon

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Walking the Icknield Way and the Ridgeway by Hugh Thomson

Hugh Thomson has spent many years travelling through and writing about Peru, Mexico and the Indian Himalaya but turned his attention, this time, closer to home. Travelling along the Icknield Way, he passed the great prehistoric monuments of Maiden Castle, Stonehenge and Avebury, before ending at the Wash near Seahenge. His journey took him through Jefferies Land and Liddington Castle. Hugh will take us on an exploration of our local ancient landscape along a 400 mile journey from coast to coast. In his book, Hugh casts unexpected light – and humour – on the way we live now. Copies of the book will be available to buy on the day that Mr Thomson will be pleased to sign.

Friday, August 09, 2013

Story-telling event at the Richard Jefferies Museum

A splendid event was organised for children at the Richard Jefferies Museum on 5 August.

The story-telling and activities were based on a short "love story" extract from Richard Jefferies Wood Magic.

You can read all about it and see pictures of the occasion here

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Harmony by Julian Anderson

The Richard Jefferies Society has written to a young British composer congratulating him on his opening composition for the first night of the BBC Proms (12th July).

 The new work entitled Harmony, for choir and orchestra, by Julian Anderson lasted 5 minutes, was commissioned by the BBC and performed by the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Chorus. The piece was inspired by Richard Jefferies’ autobiography The Story of My Heart and words taken from it included:

 The clock may make time for itself; there is none for me...The shadow goes on upon the dial, the index moves round upon the clock, and what is the difference? None whatever. If the clock had never been set going, what would have been the difference?

In the introduction to the BBC broadcast Anderson was quoted as saying that you can launch a concert opening with two approaches: a ‘loud fanfare’ or ‘calm and meditative’. He preferred the latter and described Jefferies as a mystic author who had visions on the Wiltshire downs of time standing still and of eternity. Harmony was a celebration of Jefferies’ vivid nature writing. Tibetan bowls and rain-sticks were played as part of the instrumentation - they have a hypnotic sound that Jefferies would have enjoyed.

In a review in The Telegraph on 13th July, Ivan Hewitt wrote that ‘it was a nice conceit, to begin the world’s largest music festival with something called Harmony, and the piece caught with delicate precision the idea that music stopped the ordinary clock time.’

The interview and composition was broadcast on BBC radio 3 and can be played at:

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Food and drink in Jefferies' world

Saturday 27th July - Richard Jefferies Society Study Day.

Venue: The Richard Jefferies Museum, Marlborough Road, Coate, Swindon SN3 6AA

From 10.30am to 4pm. Lunch from 1-2.30pm - opportunity to look around the Museum and grounds.

John Price, Eric Jones and Peter Bainbridge will be introducing the subject of the study day with short talks followed by readings from the audience of relevant passages to illustrate food and drink in Jefferies' world.

Bring a packed lunch. Refreshments provided.

Admission free.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Denys James Watkins-Pitchford (BB)

On Saturday 11th May 2013 at 2pm, Ray (Badger) Walker will talk about his personal friendship with Denys James Watkins-Pitchford.
Badger is a Derbyshire man and he met BB in the early 1980s. Their shared passion and interest for the countryside, and of Jefferies’ writing, led to a solid friendship. By coincidence, Badger’s father was born in Chiseldon opposite the church where Richard Jefferies married Jessie Baden.
DOORS OPEN 1PM (Opportunity to explore the Museum)