Village Hall Talks at Wootton-By-Woodstock

The project was conceived to raise funds to renovate the village hall in Wootton-by-Woodstock, which was built almost entirely from timber ninety years ago. Following a decade of successful events, much of the refurbishment has been completed. So, all proceeds will now be donated to the Wootton Conservation Trust, which bought and manages the extensive Jubilee Meadow - a Local Nature Reserve open to all and one of the most popular features in Wootton

The Antonia Keaney Talk

The Antonia Keaney Talk

7.30pm Friday January 17th 2020

Antonia is Researcher and Social Historian at Blenheim Palace and her talk in Wootton is called A Passion for Fashion – 300 Years of Style at Blenheim Palace. She will look at clothes which would have been worn by family members, as well as some of the more unusual accessories used by them - including false eyebrows made from ‘mouse’ skin, wigs, hoops and scalp scratchers. She will also look at King Louis XIV’s passion for shoes and how the styles he favoured have been adopted by the fashionistas of today.

Antonia's talk will also highlight examples of clothing worn by Victorian children, including the young Winston Churchill, who, of course, was born at Blenheim. Churchill, as well as being Prime Minister twice, was an accomplished writer, artist, sometime bricklayer and arguably - in fashion terms - the inventor of the ubiquitous and ever-popular onesie.

It is a unique insight into the Palace’s fashionable past and highlights the leading role the house and its many occupants have played in the changing face of fashion down through the ages – right up to the special relationship Blenheim enjoys with the House of Dior. This link is on-going - and it is celebrated with a look at the early catwalk shows of the 1950s, and the launch of Dior's Cruise collection, which took place at Blenheim in May 2016.

Antonia will also examine adult and children's fashions from the 18th and 19th Centuries, as well as contemporary style from renowned designers including Christina Stambolian, Stephen Jones, Christian Louboutin and most recently, Dolce & Gabbana.

Antonia has curated and co-curated a series of highly successful exhibitions at the palace - including Blenheim in World War I (2014); Capability Brown (2016); A Passion for Fashion in 2017 and Lights, Camera, Action in 2013 with Blenheim starring in a wide range of TV adverts and programmes, in addition to both Hollywood and Bollywood blockbusters. It has featured in films such as Hamlet and The Young Victoria, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix; Gulliver's Travels and, more recently, in Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation and 007’s Spectre. Antonia has also featured on Radio 4's Saturday Morning Live, as well as appearing on the BBC's Countryfile programme.

Antonia enjoys hugely the company of her dogs – particularly Percy, a wire-haired Dachshund, who has inspired her to write and illustrate her first children’s book – Percy at the Palace (a Dog’s Eye View of Blenheim). She is currently working on her second children’s book, Percy and the Pug (Chatting with Churchill) in which Percy encounters Winston Churchill in the grounds of Blenheim Palace. ----

To reserve seats, please contact us through the "Contact Us" link above

(Children over 16 welcome)

The Richard Norton-Taylor Talk

The Richard Norton-Taylor Talk

7.30pm Friday February 21st 2020

Richard has a highly distinguished track-record delving into the world of spies and their Whitehall masters - and, for his talk in Wootton, he will reveal the secrets of his forty-year career as a journalist, largely on The Guardian newspaper. Early in his career, Richard successfully campaigned against official secrecy, gaining a reputation inside the Whitehall establishment and the outside world alike for his relentless determination to expose wrong-doing and incompetence. His special targets have always been the security and intelligence agencies and the Ministry of Defence, institutions that often hide behind the cloak of national security, he says, to protect themselves from embarrassment and being held to account.

Encouraged by his trusted contacts in intelligence agencies and Whitehall departments, Richard was among the first of the few journalists consistently to attack the planned invasion of Iraq in 2003 - and he subsequently covered for The Guardian the devastating evidence of every witness to the Chilcot Inquiry. He also enjoyed unique access to a wide array of defence sources, giving him a rare insight into the disputes among top military commanders as they struggled to fight wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with under-resourced and ill-equipped troops.

Described by a former senior Intelligence official as a "long-term thorn in the side of the intelligence establishment", and winner of numerous awards for his journalism, Richard is one of the most respected defence and security journalists of his generation. His new book, The State of Secrecy - Spies and the Media in Britain is both provocative, and rich in anecdotes - and is regarded as an illuminating and critical account of his experiences investigating the secret world.

Richard left The Guardian in 2016 during which time he was regularly asked to contribute to programmes on the BBC and other radio and television stations. He won the Freedom of Information Campaign Award in 1986 and again in 1994. He jointly received Liberty's Human Rights Campaign of the Year award in 2010 for investigating “Britain’s complicity in the use of torture”. He is now vice chair of Liberty.

His books include: Whose Land Is It Anyway ?, an investigation into land ownership; In Defence of the Realm ? The case for Accountable Security and Intelligence Services; A Conflict of Loyalties, an account of GCHQ and the ban on trade union membership there; and Truth is A Difficult Concept, based on the evidence revealed by the Scott arms-to-Iraq inquiry; Sleaze, The Corruption of Parliament; The Liar: The Fall of Jonathan Aitken; The War We Could Not Stop; and The Hutton Inquiry and its Impact.

His award- winning plays, most of which have been broadcast by the BBC, include Half the Picture (based on evidence to the Scott inquiry and the first play to be performed in the House of Commons); Nuremberg; The Colour of Justice (taken from evidence to the Macpherson inquiry into the murder of the black teenager, Stephen Lawrence); Bloody Sunday (the winner of an Olivier award); Called to Account (a hearing on the Tony Blair’s decision to invade Iraq); Tactical Questioning (on the killing by British troops of the Iraqi hotel worker, Baha Mousa; and Chilcot (based on the inquiry into Britain’s role in the invasion of Iraq). ----

To reserve seats, please contact us through the "Contact Us" link above

(Children over 16 welcome)

The Mike Birkhead Talk

The Mike Birkhead Talk

7.30pm Friday March 13th 2020

Mike is one of the world's leading natural history film-makers and has produced and directed many award-winning films and series in India, Sri Lanka and Africa, often featuring Sir David Attenborough. Recent films include H is For Hawk: A New Chapter; David Attenborough's Big Birds; Attenborough's Wonder of Eggs - and he is currently making Wonder of Song for the BBC with Sir David. His talk in Wootton will be called Attenborough’s Wonders, Hawks and Sri Lanka and will feature some of Mike's finest work

Mike is the younger brother of Prof Tim Birkhead, a world expert on birds, who has also appeared at the Wootton Talks to great acclaim. In his teens, Mike had soccer trials with Leeds United - but he credits Tim's passion for natural history in helping Mike discover his own love of the natural world. After gaining a doctorate at Oxford University and spending two years at post-doctoral work in the Department of Zoology, Mike ventured into television and joined London Weekend Television in 1984 and, looking back, he calls this career move "pure good fortune" as LWT encouraged entrepreneurship and independence.

He then left to set up his own company, Mike Birkhead Associates - 30 years later, he has many programmes under his belt, garnering a wide range of awards (Land of the Tiger, Tiger Crisis, Battle to Save the Tiger, Echo an Unforgettable Elephant, Siberian Tiger Quest, Wild Sri Lanka, Attenborough's Big Birds). Mike says he does not regret failing to play for Leeds United - now realising how much serendipity is involved in a career in independent film-making.

To reserve seats, please contact us through the "Contact Us" link above

(Children over 16 welcome)

Village Hall Talks - Wootton By Woodstock


All Talks Start
At 7:30pm

Tickets Cost
£8 For

Max Capacity

OX20 1DZ

John Lloyd & John Mitchinson Talk, Summer 2009

Local Links

The Woodstock Bookshop

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Robin Laurance Photography

Ashmolean Museum

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