Current Branch Programme

We will be holding talks face-to-face and on-line during the 2023-2024 programme. More details will be added to the website as we have them available and we will also send email updates. If you have any queries please contact us at 

Updated February 2024 

2023 – 2024 programme

Monday 25 September 7.30pm, AGM

The AGM and talk will be held at the Exmouth Arms 167 Bath Road, Cheltenham, GL53 7LX and as a Zoom meeting. Food will be available at the Exmouth Arms before the AGM, if you wish to have a meal please contact us at by 5 September for further information.

If you wish to join by Zoom for the AGM and/or talk please register at:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

AGM to be followed at 8.15 by a talk from Harry Scott who was awarded the branch award for Best History Dissertation at UoG in 2022.

A Journey to Teaching

Harry is originally from Nottinghamshire but moved to the South West in 2019 to study History at the University of Gloucestershire where he graduated in 2022 receiving the Gloucestershire Historical Association best dissertation award. In 2022 he began his studies for a PGCE which he completed in June 2023, he will be working as a History teacher at a secondary school in the Stroud area from September 2023.

I will talk about why I wanted to teach, an ambition I have held since childhood and my preconceptions about the profession. I will discuss how my experience of the PGCE has matched up to these preconceptions and how the course has helped to shape my views on education and history teaching. I will also discuss my views on some of the barriers people face when trying to enter the profession and issues within it especially regarding recruitment and retention. I will recount my experiences of the PGCE and how rewarding I have found it and whilst not all of it was what I was expecting I have loved nearly every minute. I will conclude with how now more than ever I am certain the teaching the profession is for me.

Monday 23 October 7.30pm, Park Campus, University of Gloucestershire, Cheltenham

 A Tool of Empire? Re-thinking Railway History in Colonial South Asia

Dr Aparajita Mukhopadhyay, University of Kent

This talk will explore the complex and nuanced story of technology transfer in a colonial context through the illustrative example of railways in colonial South Asia. The talk will demonstrate how a new technology of transport was adopted and adapted in a colony with unintended social and political consequences. 

Dr Mukhopadhyay has a PhD from SOAS . Previous teaching stints in USA; and Goldsmiths, University of London. Research sits at the nexus of imperial history and social history of technology. First monograph was published in 2018. Presently working on the second monograph with a focus on railway crimes in 19th century India.

Co-Investigator of an ongoing British Academy Small Research Grant (November 2022-November 2023).

To watch the talk via Zoom please register using the link below. There will be a £4 charge for non-members, if you are an HA member please email for further information.

Monday 13 November 7.30pm, Zoom

A Glorious Irrelevance: Waterloo Reconsidered

Professor Charles Esdaile, University of Liverpool

Fought on 18 June 1815, the Battle of Waterloo is a subject whose general outlines might be thought to be well-known, something, indeed, on which historians can have little more to say. Nothing can be further from the truth, however, this being particularly true of the received military narrative of the day itself, this having been heavily doctored by Napoleon and his numerous apologists to ensure that the blame fell anywhere other than the shoulders of the emperor, matters being further complicated by the fact that the very battlefield has often been depicted in a manner that is extremely misleading. Beyond the actual battle, meanwhile, there is the strategic context, far too many observers having assumed that, had Napoleon only won the battle, he would have been confirmed on his throne and set free to rule France as an enlightened monarch bent on cementing the ideals of the French Revolution. What would have actually happened had the emperor achieved the unlikely feat of beating Wellington and Blücher, is obviously something about which we cannot be certain, but all the evidence suggests a very different picture, namely a war of attrition in which the imperial cause would have been ground down by a combination of domestic resistance and the implacable hostility of the great powers, the result being that Waterloo should be seen in terms of the glorious irrelevance of the title. Herein, then, lies the chief thrust of this talk.

Born in 1959 in Epsom in Surrey, Charles Esdaile studied at the University of Lancaster and spent his career teaching and researching at the Universities of Durham, Southampton and Liverpool, at which last he was a member of staff of the Department of History from 1989 to 2020; having taken early retirement in the wake of  Covid, he is now resident on the Isle of Man. A noted specialist in the Napoleonic period, his publications are numerous – they include, for example, The Peninsular War: a New History (Penguin, 2002), Napoleon’s Wars: an International History (Penguin, 2007) and The Wars of the French Revolution (Routledge and Keegan Paul, 2018) – but, of late, they have been much concerned with the Hundred Days, as witness his Napoleon, France and Waterloo: the Eagle Rejected (Pen and Sword, 2016) and Walking Waterloo (Pen and Sword, 2019).

To watch the talk via Zoom please register using the link below. There will be a £4 charge for non-members, if you are an HA member please email for further information.

Monday 11 December 7.30pm, The Exmouth Arms, 167 Bath Road, Cheltenham, GL53 7LX

The World of the Tavern in Early Modern Europe

Professor Beat Kϋmin, University of Warwick

Inns, taverns and alehouses provided the principal communication hubs in premodern society. Serving a myriad of functions and linking local communities with the wider world, they have a fascinating history which is well worth investigating. This talk adopts a European perspective to explore publicans, patrons, premises and processes between the Middle Ages and the eve of modernity. Beat Kümin is Professor of Early Modern European History at the University of Warwick and author of Drinking Matters: Public Houses and Social Exchange in Early Modern Central Europe (2007) and editor of The European World: An Introduction to Early Modern History (4th edn, 2023).

Professor Kϋmin studied History and English at the University of Bern and completed doctoral research on late medieval parishes at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. Following a research fellowship at Magdalene College, a Swiss National Science Foundation project on public houses and acting as Peter Blickle’s assistant, he joined Warwick’s History Department in January 2001. Together with Prof. Brian Cowan at McGill, he co-edits Bloomsbury’s ‘Cultures of Early Modern Europe series and serve on the boards of the journals Food & History and Brewery History Link as well as Adam Matthew’s Food and Drink in History.

Join us for a Christmas event at The Exmouth, food and drink will be available.

Monday 15 January 7.30pm, Park Campus, University of Gloucestershire, Cheltenham

The Evolution of Holocaust Education in UK Schools, 1988-2023

Dr Simon Butler, University of Gloucestershire

Simon has been teaching in Secondary Schools and lecturing in Initial Teacher Education since 1988. During this time, he has witnessed great changes to the teaching of the Holocaust, both in terms of content and pedagogy. This talk sets out to explore the most significant changes in Holocaust education and the pedagogical debates that have taken place in teaching profession across this time period.

Simon spent 15 years working in secondary schools as a Head of History, Head of Year and Assistant Headteacher. In 2002, he started working as a Teaching and Learning Consultant for Devon Local Authority. Seven years later he became Secondary PGCE History Course Leader at the University of Worcester. In 2019 Simon took early retirement and now works part-time as a Lecturer in Secondary Education at the University of Gloucestershire.

If you wish to watch on Zoom please register via the link below:

Monday 19 February 7.30pm, Zoom only

The War in Ukraine: Past is Present

Professor Christian Raffensperger, Professor and Chair of HIstory, Wittenberg University, Springfiled, Ohio, USA

The War in Ukraine: Past is Present – Professor Christian Raffensperger, Professor and Chair of History, Wittenberg University, Springfield, Ohio, USA

The Russian invasion in Ukraine of February 2022 surprised many people throughout the West, but for the Ukrainians and some Russians and other eastern Europeans it was presaged by history in both word and deed. Christian Raffensperger will talk about the past of the region and how it impacts the present war, including analysing the claims made by Vladimir Putin, and talking about the impact of current events on the crisis.

Professor Raffensperger’s academic goal has remained the same since the completion of his Ph.D. at the University of Chicago (2006)—the integration of the medieval polity of Rus into the larger medieval European world. This theme is present throughout his research and teaching. His first book, released by Harvard University Press in 2012, won the Ohio Academy of History Publication Award in 2013 and is titled, Reimagining Europe: Kievan Rus’ in the Medieval World, 988–1146.

To join us via Zoom please register below:

Monday 18 March 7.30pm, Tewkesbury Methodist Church, High Street, Tewkesbury

Living With Water in Early Modern England: Exploring and Understanding Flooding in the Past for the Present and Future

Dr Hannah Worthen, Postdoctoral Researcher at the Energy & Environment Institute at the University of Hull

This talk will explore what it meant to live alongside water in early modern England. Based on a case study of Kingston-Upon-Hull, it will examine evidence for how communities of the past adapted to and governed their watery environment. The talk will also share the work of the University of Hull’s Risky Cities project which invited communities to participate in creative workshops about flooding based on original archival research into the city’s water and flood history. It will demonstrate that flood histories can be a powerful tool for shaping flood resilience today and a necessary part of the conversation about living with an uncertain climate future.

Hannah is an historical geographer based at the University of Hull with specialisms in early modern history, gender, and the environment. She is currently based in the Risky Cities project where she researches people’s relationship with their watery landscapes in the past.

If you would like to join us va Zoom please register below:

Monday 15 April 7.30pm, Zoom

Oliver Cromwell – Hero or Villain?

Dr David L. Smith, Fellow, Selwyn College, Cambridge

Oliver Cromwell remains one of the most controversial and complex figures in British history.  He ruled over what was so far the only republic in British history, and he deeply divided his contemporaries over whether he was a hero or a villain.  Historians’ assessments of Cromwell are similarly polarised.  This lecture will explore Cromwell’s life and career through a selection of his letters and speeches and examine why opinion about him is still so divided.

David L. Smith is Fellow, Director of Studies in History, and Graduate Tutor at Selwyn College, Cambridge. His books include Constitutional Royalism and the Search for Settlement, c. 1640-1649 (1994), A History of the Modern British Isles, 1603-1707: The Double Crown (1998), The Stuart Parliaments, 1603-1689 (1999), and (with Patrick Little) Parliaments and Politics during the Cromwellian Protectorate (2007).  He edited (jointly with Patrick Little and Joel Halcomb, with John Morrill as general editor), Letters, Writings and Speeches of Oliver Cromwell, III: 1653-8 (2022).

To join us via Zoom please register below:

Monday 13 May 7.30pm, Park Campus, University of Gloucestershire, Cheltenham

Utilitarianism and Government. The Influence of Jeremy and Samuel Bentham, 1780 – 1830

Roger Morris, Private Scholar

Benthamite Utilitarianism is credited with contributing to the shape of British governmental bureaucracy and parliamentary representation after 1830. Study has adhered to Jeremy Bentham, the principal ideologist, who left a mountain of paper now almost fully published. However his brother, Samuel, Inspector General of Naval Works 1796-1808, Charles Abbot Speaker of the House of Commons 1803-17, and Mary Sophia Bentham, Samuel’s wife, had major parts to play in family support, especially during the persecution of Samuel for his ideas while IGNW. Ironically, however, those ideas were sought for their economy value after 1815 – which permits this talk to argue that Benthamite Utilitarianism influenced government thirty years earlier than has hitherto been assumed.

Roger Morris was a teacher until he was 30, a curator and Custodian of Manuscripts at the National Maritime Museum for 17 years, then senior lecturer in naval and maritime history at Exeter University for 21 years. While holding these positions, he taught for periods at the Greenwich Maritime Institute and in the archaeology department at Bristol and was General Editor for the Navy Records Society 2000-12. Various books and articles have appeared over the years.

If you would like to join us by Zoom please register below:

Talk information

Meetings normally begin at 7.30 p.m., and are usually on Mondays.

Where we are holding Zoom webinars we will send out joining instructions to members and provide links from this website. 

The venue for Cheltenham meetings is usually the University of Gloucestershire’s Park Campus, Cheltenham, (GPS: enter The Park, Cheltenham).

Gloucester meetings are usually at the Oxstalls Campus of the University of Gloucestershire. 

Both venues have large car parks, for which a parking fee is charged, and bus 94U runs to both campuses from the centre of both Cheltenham and Gloucester.

If you are coming to the Park by car, there is a map at This shows the layout of the Park Campus itself; the main car park is to the left of the lake and bus stops are shown. We will be meeting in 1a the Elwes Teaching Centre shown on the Park Campus map.

At Oxstalls the parking is very close to the building where we meet. The map at shows the location of the campus within Gloucester (zoom out if necessary); and if you then centre the campus on the map and zoom in, you can see where the main car parks are situated. The bus stops are also shown. We will be meeting in the Business School, number 7 on the Oxstalls campus map.

Meetings are free for members, £4 for visitors. (School and university students are always welcome to attend free of charge.)  

For further details please contact the secretary, Robert Sutton, tel: 01242 574889. 

For details of previous years’ programmes, please go here.