10 October 2017 What we can learn about fungi from Beatrix Potter – Professor Roy Watling
(Halkett Hendrie Memorial Lecture)
Prof. Watling set up the first ever Fungal Biodiversity Sanctuary at Dawyck near Peebles, an extension of his love of fungi, something which drew him to interacting with the early studies of Beatrix Potter. She was passionate about fungi of all kinds, spending many hours illustrating them from nature, and more importantly, studying how the spores germinate and develop. Roy’s talk showed how she pre-empted some of the world’s most important mycologists in the observations she made.
14 November 2017 The Chambers Brothers’ Contribution to Peebles & Scotland in the 19th Century – Rosemary Hannay
The lives of William Chambers (1800-1883) and Robert Chambers (1802-1871) spanned almost the whole of the 19thcentury and their influence is apparent in many of the major intellectual and cultural developments of that century in Scotland. From humble beginnings in the Scottish Borders town of Peebles, the boldness and ingenuity with which they seized every opportunity led to the transformation of the publishing industry in Britain and through it, the growth of the self-education movement. Their role in such diverse areas as the massive slum clearance programme in Edinburgh, the restoration of St Giles Cathedral and, most controversially, Robert’s role in the development of evolutionary theory which scandalised the polite society of Edinburgh, illustrates the scope of their influence in their time.
12 December 2017 Plants associated with Christmas & the stories behind them – Colin Crosbie (Charles Morrison Memorial Lecture)
Christmas plants represent a large part of the celebration of Christmas. They carry a deep symbolism because the Christian celebration was superimposed on ancient pagan rituals linked to the celebration of the Winter Solstice, 21-22 December in the northern hemisphere. Dating back centuries before Christ, different cultures brought evergreen trees, plants and leaves into their homes, possibly to celebrate the return of life at the beginning of winter’s decline. Colin gave us a fascinating account of the pagan origins of some of our Christmas plants, why we use them and how to look after them.
9 January 2018 The Tontine Hotel in Peebles Life since 1808 – Kate Innes and Sandra Whitnell
When the Tontine opened in far off 1808, the Peninsular War had just begun, and George III was on the throne. The Tontine was not just a place where a weary traveller could lay their head for a night or two, but a hub of Peebles high life – social, political, and economic – but especially social! The speakers gave us a glimpse into the hotel in past times, telling us about feasts, riots, elephants, and much more!
13 February 2018 John Buchan and Tweeddale – Ursula Buchan
This talk explored the many ways in which the land where his parents grew up, and where he spent the holidays of his childhood and youth, influenced the great man. It is impossible to think of John Buchan as anything but a Borderer, even though he never lived in Scotland permanently after the age of 20. He depicted this beloved country in a number of his short stories and novels, most famously The Thirty-Nine Steps, when the hero, Richard Hannay, finds temporary sanctuary there, while being chased by both the police and by German agents. The man who was, at various times, a barrister, journalist, colonial administrator, propagandist, politician and statesman even took his title from the Tweed valley, when he became the first Lord Tweedsmuir in 1935.
13 March 2018 Archive Film (Laxdale Hall – 1953) followed by Annual General Meeting