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Programme 2024

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Thu 26th September 2024
An evening remembering The Avon Rubber Company in Melksham
(note 4th Thursday)

Thu 17th October 2024
Atworth – The Romans to the 3rd Millennium
Presented by Gervase O’Donohoe

Thu 21st November 2024
AGM & Social Evening

Recent Events

Thu 18th July 2024
Proposed Coach to Tiverton with Horse Drawn Barge Trip
Limited to 50, so Members have priority. Please book your tickets from February
more details...

Tue 11th June 2024
Town Walk led by Paul Carter
Meet at Rachel Fowler Centre at 7pm
more details...

Thu 16th May 2024
Further display of our local Artefacts & Social Evening
(7pm – 9pm)
more details...

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The Extraordinary Ladies - Thu 20th April 2017
of Wiltshire, including Matilda Talbot

Presentation by Claire Skinner from the History Centre



(including Matilda Talbot)

(and Mary Bruce)

Presentation by Claire Skinner from the History Centre

Thursday 20th April 2017 - 7:30pm
Melksham Assembly Hall
(Visitors always welcome £3)

Report -



Our April meeting at Melksham Assembly Hall was a talk and slide show by Claire Skinner, from the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre.

Claire's talk was titled “ Extraordinary Ladies of Wiltshire”.

Claire gave us an interesting insight into four of the local Ladies who have left their mark on History in Wiltshire.

Maud Heath was a 15th Century lady from Langley Burrell, who walked each week to Chippenham market to sell her goods, she was a childless Widow and when she died in 1474, she left her estate to a charitable trust to build a causeway from across the flood plain to Chippenham. The charitable trust still maintains the causeway today and there is a monument to Maud at Bremhill.

Lady Valerie Meux, was a 19th century socialite who lived at Dauntsey Park. She was never accepted by her husband’s family or polite society and was a controversial Lady around London society , driving her carriage which was drawn by two Zebras.
She died in 1910 and left her estate to Sir Hedworth Lambton on condition he changed his name to “Meux”.

Dorothy Lawrence. Dorothy wanted to be a journalist and had some success with letters to the Times newspaper. In 1915 she changed her appearance to a man, and traveled over to France and enlisted as a man so that she could serve in the army at the Somme. She eventually found herself back in England and with no income and no credibility as a journalist, by 1925 her increasingly erratic behavior was brought to the attention of the authorities. After confiding to a doctor that she had been raped in her teenage years by her church guardian, and with no family to look after her, she was taken into care and later deemed insane. Committed first to the London County Mental Hospital at Hanwell in March 1925, she remained institutionalised until she died in 1964.

Matilda Talbot. Born in Scotland, worked as a cooking instructor, moved to Lacock Abbey to stay with her Uncle. Her uncle died in 1916 and she inherited Lacock village and Abbey. In 1944 she gave the Village and Abbey to the National Trust to ensure its future existence. Matilda died in 1958 and is buried in Lacock.

Mary Victor Bruce. Born in 1895 as Mary Petre, had a very colourful life and a passion for speed, aged 15 she rode a motorbike about London with her dog in the sidecar and was up in front of the magistrate several times for speeding. She married the Honourable Victor Bruce in 1926 and her quest for speed continued, entering the Monte Carlo Rally. In 1926 she drove 1000 miles up through Norway and 250 miles inside the Arctic circle.
Mary also powered powerboats and held several records. Her most famous exploits were flying. She held several records, she was the first person to fly from England to Japan, the first to fly across the Yellow Sea, and the first woman to fly around the world alone (crossing the oceans by ship. A quite remarkable Lady.

Our next meeting will be an Afternoon Visit to Steeple Ashton on May 18th Leaving Melksham Church Street car Park at 1.45pm if transport is needed, or meet at Steeple Ashton for 2.15. There will be refreshments in the village hall and it may be possible to view the village from the top of the church tower.

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