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Friends of the Willis Museum Logo

A registered charity that promotes, supports, assists and helps improve the Willis Museum in Basingstoke.

Meetings & Programmes

With the restrictions imposed due to the Covid-19 pandemic now removed, the programme of regular meetings held at the Willis Museum has been reinstated.

Under normal circumstances, the Friends hold ten meetings a year when the guest speaker normally covers a local history subject. The meetings are on the third Thursday evening of most months in the Archaeology Gallery at the Museum in Market Place, Basingstoke. The doors are opened between 7.10 and 7.30 with the meeting commencing at 7.35.

There is a short break after the talk when tea and coffee are available for a nominal amount and there is the opportunity to take part in our raffle for attractive prizes.

Nearby car parking costs £2.20 for the evening after 7pm.

Admission is FREE for Members. At present due to a limitation on numbers in the Archaeology Gallery, the meetings are restricted to members only. As conditions improve we hope to allow a limited number of Guests to attend again. When guests are permitted to attend they will have to pre-book by phoning the Museum on 01256 465902 (daytime) at least twenty four hours in advance.

A small admission charge of £3.00 per person is payable at the door. This £3.00 can be used towards a full membership fee of just £12.00 for the year if you join the Friends on the night. This ensures that you will have a seat at all future meetings without the need to pre-book.

Our Next Meeting

Friends of the Willis Museum Talks Programme

July 21st 2022 - Derek Spruce​

Basingstoke – A Town well endowed with Almshouses

Derek Spruce will talk about how the local Almshouses were developed due to the generosity of benefactors such as Sir James Deane

September 15th - Dr Ian Harrison

The Work of the National Railway Museum

Dr Harrison will talk about the creation of the National Railway Museum in 1975 and the problems of running a museum where many of the exhibits are very large!

October 21st - AGM

November 17th - Kathy Brown

The Trafalgar Way

Kathy Brown will talk about the Trafalgar Way which runs from Falmouth in Cornwall to the Admiralty in central London, and through Basingstoke that was created to commemorate a remarkable, but little known, true story.

January 19th - Richard Croft

The History of Kingsclere

Richard, the Chair of the Kingsclere Heritage Association will talk about his research into the history of Kingsclere

February 16th - Sarah Somerville

 The History of Shaw House

Sarah Somerville will talk about the history of Shaw House, an Elizabethan manor house, told through the development and changes in its gardens. Built from the profits of the cloth trade in 1581, the house has enjoyed visits from royalty, including Elizabeth I and Charles I, as well as being the setting for Civil War battles and accommodation for soldiers during World Wars. The gardens were once as grand as the building itself, with aromatic shrubs surrounded by painted statues and sparkling fountains.   

March 16th - Ian Porter

The Real Downton Abbey

Ian will talk about what it was really like to be in domestic service and the relationship between upstairs and downstairs. What all the jobs entailed. Inaccuracies on TV. Indoor and outdoor staff. Leisure time. The ‘Servant Problem’ from 1901. How the Great War changed things.

April 20th - Nick Saunders

Special Operations in WW2 and the training of secret agents at Beaulieu

Nick Saunders will talk about the wartime finishing school for the Special Operations Executive at  Beaulieu during WW2, where secret agents learned vital espionage skills before embarking on dangerous missions. 

May 18th - Alan Turton

The Willow of Basing - the Life and Times of Sir William Paulet

Alan Turton will talk on William Paulet, 1st Marquis of Winchester. Paulet, was one of the most successful survivors and at the forefront of Tudor politics throughout the long, turbulent period spanning the accession of Henry VIII and the early years of Queen Elizabeth I.

June 15th - Paul Stickler

The Murder of Sydney Spicer